What’s your excuse today then? Too many people in the resistance area? Don’t want your make up to run? Your dog ate your treadmill? According to a recent Weight Watchers poll, Brits will use just about any excuse not to hit the gym. Some of the most popular reasons were expense, lack of time or lack of company. The majority of people will stop participating in a new workout program within the first 90 days which is why health clubs that are packed in January can seem virtually empty by March. Here are some tips to help you avoid losing the exercise thrill and get the most out of your gym membership.
Make workouts part of your schedule
Many see exercise as part of recreation, and not a necessity which means it’s the first thing to wipe off the schedule when things start to get hectic. You need to decide that working out is just as important as anything else in your life, and if you don’t, everything else will take precedence; business meetings, family obligations, TV, work stress. Write your gym time into your calendar and stick to it as you’d stick to a date with Brad Pitt.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew
You start your new regime, motivated and fired up to go hell for leather at achieving a bikini body in a matter of weeks. By starting out too hard and too fast, there’s only one way to go, and that’s downwards. Your muscle fibres become injured, so for 48 hours you're walking around like a mummy and avoiding the gym in fear of the pain. Start of slow and steadily and allow yourself one or two rest days per week to avoid burn out.
Set achievable goals
If you set your sights too high, you may find yourself discounting the gains you are making. Instead of looking far into the future, give yourself intermediate weekly and monthly goals, such as doing an extra rep or running your fastest mile. If you always have new goals to shoot for, it stays interesting.
Chart your progress
Gains from one workout to the next can be subtle, and the only way to know how well you're really doing is to write everything down. Keep a journal of your workouts, as well as what you eat. Don’t focus on the number on the scales too much, but monitoring steady weight loss will also help you realise your good efforts. But exercise isn’t all about losing weight - do you feel healthier? Happier? Less stressed? Whether you’ve completed a 5k without stopping or made it to the fifth floor without breaking into an asthma attack, pat yourself on the back and remember to write it down. When you’re feeling unmotivated because you haven’t got the body of Miranda Kerr you’d hoped to have after a week, look back at your progress and how much better you feel.
Mix it up
Doing the same workout over and over again gets old quickly, your muscles will become used to the same exercise and you won’t be achieving the same results than when you first started. Fit Sugar recommends changing your weight training routine regularly to keep things interesting and to help break through plateaus, and try and do a few exercise classes such as spinning and an aerobics dance class to use different muscles. A good rule of thumb is to change your sets, reps, weight, and rest periods every 3-4 weeks, as you would your music playlist. You'll have more fun if you learn new tools and keep doing different things.
Treat yourself to a 1:1
Book in a session with a personal trainer every few months, to give your workout a boost and to make sure you haven’t picked up any bad habits along the way. They will also be able to check you’re still making progress, and show you new exercises and workout tips along the way.
features writer & lifestyle blogger and avid shoe wearer.