If a year ago you had told me I would soon be writing about how much I love going to the gym I wouldn’t have believed you. Why? Because I was a world champion exercise avoider. I hated physical education at school, and didn’t play any sports growing up. So my one (and only) saving grace was the fact I walk everywhere because I still haven’t learnt how to drive.
I was forever making excuses – telling myself I’d join a gym next month, or once I got a big project out of the way. But it never happened. Until, finally, last summer I seamlessly settled into a regular fitness routine.
At first I worried it was just a phase, but 12 months have passed and I’m still working out four to five times a week. It has been a huge lifestyle change, and here are the simple tactics that made it possible…
As part of the Instagram Generation, we’re hardwired to expect instant gratification. But no one goes from inactive-exercise-avoider to Olympic athlete overnight. So if you’re starting from zero, like I did, take things slowly and avoid setting ambitious targets. I knew I had a habit of quitting fitness plans after two weeks, so just committed to one barre and yoga class each week to begin with. And after a few months I started introducing weight training and high-intensity workouts to my schedule as well. If I’d jumped straight into four or five gym sessions a week I would have quit in the first month, but pacing myself made the process less daunting.
FIND YOUR TRIBE
I was reluctant to join a gym at first, because I worried the fitness instructors would be pushy and judgemental. But thankfully I found the opposite to be true. I love the trainers I see every week, and quickly gravitated towards those that best understand my needs. No two teachers are the same, and you’ll naturally find some unlock your motivation more than others. The same goes for the presenters of fitness DVDs and YouTube channels. So it’s really important to find your tribe. Even if takes a while to track them down.
PUT WORKOUTS IN YOUR DIARY
My weekly fitness routine is a blend of barre, yoga and group personal training sessions. This is ideal for me because every class is timetabled, and therefore has to go in my calendar. Before joining a gym I repeatedly put off exercise, but I’ve discovered I’m less likely to slack off and make excuses if I have a class booked and added to my schedule. So, even if you’re working out solo, be sure to put that evening run or morning gym session in your diary. If it’s written down you’re more likely to stick to the commitment.
GET AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
Around the time I got hooked on barre and circuit training, one of my best friends started swimming and spinning multiple times a week. And we unofficially became each other’s accountability partners. We never workout together, but if one of us is having a bad week or has hit a plateau we’ll step in to offer support and advice. It can be as simple as saying, “You’re doing amazing! Give it one more go,” or recommending a cool fitness channel to follow on YouTube.
When I started my fitness journey last summer I was so weak I couldn’t even do one push-up on my knees. So the first time I was able to do 10 push-ups on my knees (and later 30) I rewarded myself with a glossy magazine. And when I finally became strong enough to do a few push-ups on my toes I treated myself to some new activewear. Celebrating progress – whether big or small – has helped me stick to a regular routine and remain focused.
How do you make sure you stick to a regular fitness routine? Leave a comment below or tweet me at @cocosteaparty with your tips and tricks…