So, how’s that New Year’s resolution to hit the gym going?
We’re nearing the middle of January, which means anyone who made a pledge to hit the gym more in 2022 is more than a week into his or her intentions for better health.
But what mistakes are commonly made by those getting back into working out? And what are best ways to ensure that your resolution isn’t given up on by March -- or even earlier?
Houston-based trainers Marci Jenson and Austin McCafferty of Orangetheory Fitness offered these five tips to help people keep their New Year’s resolutions to exercise more.
Set realistic goals.
If you’ve never run a mile in 6 minutes or less, or run a mile at all for that matter, don’t expect to run one in five minutes by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around.
The same logic applies to a desire to bench press a certain amount of weight or increase stamina on a bike.
The best thing is to set realistic goals you not only can attain, but have fun achieving.
Otherwise, burnout will quickly set in, and the white flag is waved on that New Year’s resolution.
“It’s going to take time to see those adaptations take place,” McCafferty said. “Process is a big thing and setting your proper goals without being too unrealistic can help you with that process.”
Have some accountability in place.
Another way of saying this? You shouldn’t be in it alone.
In order to help stick with that resolution, surround yourself with people or things that will help steer you toward whatever goals you have.
“Choose who you want to who is going to hold you accountable to that goal, whether it’s a friend, a trainer or an app,” Jenson said. "There’s many resources you can use to have that accountability.”
Don’t be afraid to ask how to do exercises.
There are certain techniques to follow for each exercise, especially more strenuous ones such as squats or push-ups. The same rings true for machines at a gym that work certain muscle groups.
If anyone is unfamiliar, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. There’s plenty of people around a gym, such as trainers or other people working out, to ask how to properly perform exercises.
“It just takes a little bit of effort to ask for help along the way,” McCafferty said.
The reason it’s so vital to do exercises right is because serious injury could occur if they’re not performed properly.
“Educating yourself is very important first, because that will lead to results and to staying with that program or activity for a long time,” Jenson said.
Be just as dedicated outside the gym.
Even if a New Year’s resolution is stuck to and someone is getting to the gym about as much as (s)he had hoped, it can all be negated with bad habits outside of the gym.
The other hours of the day matter, too. You’ll want to eat right, stay properly hydrated and remain somewhat active when you’re not at the gym.
“What are you willing to do to make this happen?” Jenson said. "There are the 22 or 23 other hours of the day. Everything they are doing outside the gym is just as important. It can either hinder or help the progress or things they are doing in the gym.”
Embrace the process.
More than anything, trying to fulfill a New Year’s resolution for better health is a lifestyle change.
“Goals are good, but is your goal a quick fix or a lifestyle change?” Jenson said. “We try to help understand the difference between the two and what is healthiest for them long-term.”
Falling in love with the process, or the steps taken along the way toward fulfilling goals, is the best way to ensure there won’t be another New Year’s resolution next year to hit the gym, because you already are there.
“When we see a new member, one thing we are trying to separate is their goal and what they believe their process is, versus a realistic approach as well,” McCafferty said. “We are breaking down timelines along the way while also talking about more life. When you come in, we hope you leave getting more life out of this. Getting that life isn’t just about reaching your goal after three months.”
This story was first published in 2020. It has since been updated.