Remember New Year’s Eve? If it was a good one, perhaps not. But ignoring the specifics of what exactly you got up to that evening, you can be sure that you were looking towards the New Year. Many of us made promises we were unlikely to keep, and among the most common failed resolutions is the promise we make to ourselves to get in shape. Research suggests that £37m is wasted on unused gym memberships in the UK (and 77% of resolutions aren’t followed through on).
So, whether you’re among the New Year’s resolution crowd, coming back after an injury, a planned rest or simply finding excuses for the time of year, this guide is intended to get you back into the gym and exercising.
Getting (Back?) into the Habit
Gym attendance is all about momentum. Once you’ve been going for a while, you don’t even think about not going. The problem is that initial month where you haven’t quite formed a habit. So here’s how to go about it:
- First and foremost, you have to make your Gym day a day when legitimate excuses are less likely to present themselves. This is why pre-work Gym sessions are so popular: you’ll only have yourself to blame if you don’t get up in time. Immediately after work is also a great time to attend, though sometimes overtime will ruin your best practice;
- Commit to go for a short workout every day for the first thirty days. Your eventual regime may not be as regular, but immersing yourself into the world of the Gym is a good way to remind yourself you’re there to stay;
- Don’t launch yourself into a massive multi-hour workout at the outset. You’ll risk injury at worst, and at best you’ll use your achievement as a get out clause for all the other days you fail to achieve your goals;
- Giving yourself a tangible reminder of what you’ve achieved is important, even if that’s only ticking off each day on the calendar as you go;
- Workout with a friend – this is probably the single best thing you can do at the Gym. Friends push you, monitor your attendance, tell you when you’re letting your team down and simply provide company. Get a workout friend now;
- Your ultimate goal should be to feel more fulfilled, not to become more attractive or more accomplished (though yes, it’s ok to want these things!);
- Forming a habit is easier when you reward yourself for showing up, even if it’s buying a chocolate bar that you like (though once the habit is formed, it’s best to drop rewards that are contrary to your goals!);
- You must enjoy your gym visits. Having objectives is all very well and good, but choosing the machine that will get you there fastest isn’t any good if you just don’t enjoy using it. Try your hand at everything and find the things that you actually enjoy doing. And that stuff you don’t like so much? Bare it in mind for when you want to challenge yourself and you need to feel like you’ve accomplished something;
- Finally, don’t stop once you’ve started!
Other Important Conditions to Consider
Not all gyms are created equal, and neither are the people who use them or the time of year. It’s worth considering:
- Is it a good time for you to pick up your Gym membership? One of the problems of the fitness New Year’s resolution is that people make it at a time of year when the nights and mornings are dreary and dark, and the weather outside is cold. It’s hard to form habits when the world seems against you!
- Some people prefer Gyms with a ‘no pain, no gain’ attitude and plenty of weight lifting machines. Some people prefer the mega-gym with a window out onto the street where they can be seen. Others prefer personal one on one trainers. Others simply want a friendly face on the front desk and an informal, friendly atmosphere on the machines. You’ll only find the right gym for you by asking around and trying out a range of gyms – so try not to get tied down;
- Some people will form habits by turning up to the gym twice. Others will go through every point of the list above and still find themselves getting out of the habit. Sometimes we’re beyond the help of even the many help guides on the internet, and honestly, there’s nothing so very wrong with that!