HOW TO MOTIVATE YOURSELF TO EXERCISE BEYOND JANUARY
January is often seen as a time for new beginnings and a fresh start. Hence all the usual clichés of ‘New year, new me’, ‘This is the year I’ll get in shape’ and so on and so forth. As such, it’s a busy time for gyms and fitness clubs.
But we often find that the gym starts to die down again after just a few weeks, with so many of us falling back into old habits and giving up on our fitness journey. So how do people stick it out? We spoke to Chris Smith, manager of The Belfry Leisure Club, who shares his top gym motivation tips to help you enjoy the gym throughout January and beyond.
- Set smart goals
Many of us go into January with the aim of getting fitter, but do we really know why? What is it that you’re trying to achieve? Do you simply want to improve your health and longevity? Do you want to feel confident in your body? The first step is finding your ‘why’. Getting to the root of your motivation will help you to stay focused on that cause.
Once you’ve found your ‘why’, you can then start to make goals. You might want to lose some weight, tone up or increase your endurance. But goals are no good if you can’t measure their success. This is where SMART goals come in. SMART goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
For example, if your goal is to lose weight for your summer holiday, your SMART goal could be to lose 5% of your body weight in three months. Or if your goal is to improve your tone, your SMART goal could be to lose 1% of body fat per month for the next 6 months.
By creating SMART goals, you can keep track of your performance, helping you to maintain the motivation to go to the gym.
- Find out what you like
One of the biggest blockers that many find when they start working out is that they just don’t enjoy what they’re doing. That’s completely natural – if everyone enjoyed working out, we’d all be in tip top shape all the time. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it.
The trick is simply finding the type of exercise that you enjoy the most. This means trying new things. If you’ve been running on and off for years but can’t seem to get into a routine, perhaps it isn’t the exercise for you. Maybe you could try cycling or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) instead? Once you’ve found the exercise that you love, you’ll start to get an endorphin boost from it and you’ll eventually find that you look forward to working out.
- Get accountable
Another way to help yourself stay motivated is to find a way to get accountable. If you’re naturally disciplined then this shouldn’t be much of an issue for you, but many people find the temptation to give it a miss too difficult to resist, and before you know it, you’ve missed the last three months’ gym sessions.
Finding a workout buddy to help you stay accountable is a great way to make sure you don’t miss your workout sessions. This could be someone to run with, someone to help you do sit-ups, or even just someone to travel to the gym with. It’s human nature to not want to let others down, and this could be just the motivation you need to get yourself out of bed, off the couch and down to the gym.
- Schedule appropriately
One of the main barriers that many people claim stops them from exercising is that they simply don’t have enough time. It’s totally understandable not to want to put any more pressure on an already hectic schedule. But to really achieve the results that you’re looking for, accepting that it’s not easy and that commitment is needed is half the battle.
Instead of viewing your workout routine as a chore, find something that you love doing and view it as another part of your weekly routine, alongside going to work, taking a bath and cleaning your bed sheets. The physical and mental benefits of regular exercise will make it worth finding the time in your weekly schedule.
- Use technology in the right way, not the wrong way
In a similar vein, when you’re struggling to find the time to work out, think about the amount of time you spend on your phone, scrolling through your social media accounts every day. The average adult in the UK spend 2 hours and 28 minutes on their smartphone every day.
However, that doesn’t mean to say that smartphones can’t aid your workout routine. There are thousands of fitness apps out there that can help you stay focused. For example, Myzone is a great heart-rate based system that connects the fitness industry’s wearable technology of choice with your smartphone to track progress and improve your performance. And if you buy twelve personal training sessions at The Belfry Leisure Club, you’ll receive a free Myzone belt.
Simply using your phone productively rather than unproductively can free up time and aid your fitness journey.
- Treat yourself to some new workout gear
You don’t need to spend lots of money on expensive equipment to exercise, especially if you’re going to the gym where it’s all there for you. However, treating yourself to some new workout gear towards the end of January can be just the motivation you need to keep at it beyond the new year spike.
If you’re starting to feel the new year energy wear off, perhaps buying some new running shoes or those leggings you’ve had your eye on for a while will be all you need to look forward to the next few gym sessions, pushing through the lull and helping you to form a consistent workout routine.
- Eat according to your goals
It might not be your goal to get the ‘perfect’ body, but if you’re looking to trim down or improve muscle tone, it is important to eat foods that aid your goal. Of course, to lose weight, you should avoid foods high in calories and fat, and to improve muscle mass, it’s important to get in enough protein. Using apps like MyFitnessPal can help you stay on track.
The point here is that eating according to your goals will help you see results faster, and this will help you stay motivated to keep training. It won’t happen in days or even weeks, which can sometimes feel demotivating. So, by eating well, not only will you be forming good habits, you’ll help to speed up the process.
No one became a regular gym go-er overnight. Everyone experiences setbacks, but the trick is mastering how to bounce back from them. Doing so quickly is key. By finding something you enjoy, setting goals and keeping track of them, creating variety and allowing yourself time to rest, you’ll find that you start to fit exercise into your daily routine without thought. It’s this habitual style of working out that will help you to sustain your fitness-levels over time.