This time of year, resolutions are top of mind. Some of us aim to cut unhealthy habits like too much screen time or too much sugar. But it’s probably no surprise that in many polls, getting fit, or exercising more, often tops the list. So how do you ensure that, no matter what type of exercise you do to reach your fitness goals, you’re turning exercise itself into a habit you can maintain throughout the year, and maybe even, for good?
Turn motivation into habit
Starting something new—like a gym membership or a new sport—can feel exciting. Maybe you can’t wait to put on the athletic wear you were gifted over the holidays, or you’re looking forward to trying a new fitness class. Gyms and other physical activity facilities offer so much more than simply a spot to work out: for many, they’re a mental break from work or a space to socialize with new friends. Whatever the reason you’re feeling inspired to start working out, it’s important to make sure that what inspired you to start this new routine won’t disappear over time. “Motivation is great, when it’s around,” says Medcan trainer Stephanie Tzemis. But to make sure you stay motivated, you have to turn your excitement for the gym [or exercise] into a habit. “If you haven’t built your habit, [motivation] is not going to stick around.”
Results take time, so building a habit will be key to making those results your reality. “It can feel like a slow process to make lasting change,” says Medcan fitness manager Tyler Kerr. You will feel the benefits of your new routine quickly, however you might need to wait a month or two to really see big changes when you look in the mirror or try on clothes.
To help with habit formation, plan for exercise by making it an appointment in your schedule, just like you would a meeting or a dinner party. “It’s one of the easiest things to push to the wayside,” says Kerr. “So put it in the calendar!”
Ask for help
If it’s your first time working out in a gym, it may take some time to know what exercises to do, or how to do them. Learning a new sport or activity can be difficult without help from an instructor or coach—and that’s totally normal. “It’s okay to not have all the answers. You don’t have to know how to do every type of workout,” says Tzemis. No matter which area of fitness you’re interested in, access the wealth of information out there. “Watch YouTube, buy books. Hire a trainer so they can do your research for you,” suggests Medcan trainer Simon Lim. Having clarity and knowledge about your goals is what will keep your motivation going strong. “If you don’t know why you’re doing something, it’s going to be hard to keep doing it,” says Lim.
Working with a trainer can also help you to understand your motivational factors. Are you trying to fit into jeans that are too tight, or do you want to be able to lift your grandkids into your 70s? “The real success is when a client switches from, ‘I’m hitting this goal’ to ‘I’m working on myself,’” says Lim. Consider that your workout routine is doing more for you than helping you lose five pounds or making you more flexible, it’s about improving and prolonging the quality of your life.
Keep it simple
It’s easy to get ahead of yourself and set several goals at once, especially when you’re still riding that New Year’s resolution high. But a full laundry list of things to accomplish can feel daunting on the days when you don’t feel as pumped. “It becomes overwhelming,” says Medcan fitness manager Anna Topali. Instead, she suggests breaking that list into easily achievable mini-tasks. “Get comfortable doing that one thing, and then build on that.”
The most simple solution to sticking with fitness is to find something you love to do. “You [won’t] view it as a nuisance, because you intrinsically like it,” says Medcan trainer Erol Ivanov. Your new fitness routine doesn’t have to take place in a gym, it could involve team sports, cross-country skiing or hiking outdoors, or even playing with your kids.
That routine might even involve the office. Not all of us have the time to get to the gym every day, so try fitting exercise snacks, or small, five-minute bursts of exercise, into your schedule. Have your coworkers join you in a two-minute pushup competition, or listen to your favourite song as you jog up and down a flight of stairs.
Set yourself up for success
Many of us see personal training as a luxury, but getting that personalized guidance as you set your goals can be “a necessity,” says Hamza Khan, who’s been a trainer at Medcan for 12 years. Medcan trainers all agree that hiring a fitness expert can help you understand your body, synthesize your goals and achieve them in the most effective, safe and fun ways.
Could you benefit from expert, personalized fitness advice from a Medcan personal trainer? Book a consultation or a personal training session by emailing email@example.com.