It’s that time of the year again. January. That bleak and never-ending month where the temperature barely scrapes above the 2-degree Celsius mark, and everybody is seemingly miserable and skint. It is also the month where everybody guiltily resolves to become healthier and fitter following the indulgence and carefree festivities of the Christmas season.
For the first couple of weeks of the New Year, the gyms are packed full of an abundance of new members embarking on their new exercise regimes, but inevitably each year, this number tends to diminish significantly by the end of the month. In fact, it has been estimated that 80% of these New Year’s resolutions are broken by February, which is a staggering proportion. Why is this? And with next week being February 1st, how can we motivate ourselves to become the remaining 20%?
There is no definite and all-encompassing answer to this question, but there are plenty of ideas and suggestions which could help enhance your experience.
Find a Gym-Buddy
Exercising with a friend or a group of friends is a great way of making a trip to the gym, for example, into less of a solitary sweat-bath, and more of a social experience. Whilst some people can find the strength to commit to their regular gym regime and are content with the company of the music through their headphones, for others, having a partner to train with is really beneficial.
On those busy days when you really don’t think you can find the time to work-out, or simply when the idea of leaving your warm bed in order to exercise just doesn’t appeal, it would be easy to simply succumb to these thoughts and abandon the whole affair. However, with a gym partner, there is a sense of accountability, as neither one of you will want to let the other one down, meaning that it will become far easier to motivate yourself to simply get up and go.
Set dates in the diary in advance so there can be no last-minute clashes, and before too long, exercising will simply become part of your normal routine, rather than a much-dreaded, sporadic visit. On a more positive note, the mutual encouragement and support will cause you to push each other, and by default, yourselves, even harder, meaning that it will become easier to obtain the results you are looking for.
Keep it Fresh
Variety is the spice of life, as they say, and this is certainly a principle which should apply in the gym. Whatever your fitness goal may be, it is undeniable that both your mind and body will be profoundly more invested when you avoid repeating the same exercises or routines over and over again. Alternating cardio-based sessions with strength ones, each focussing on different muscle groups, would be a good starting point in order to avoid monotony.
Take full advantage of the range of machines or equipment on offer at the gym and work your way through them – does the exercise bike or the rowing machine raise your pulse the most? Are the free weights or the machines proving to be the most effective? You won’t know until you try them out! Conversely, for those of you who know exactly what you want to work on, and what results you expect to see, even simply substituting one set of exercises for another (such as an incline bench press instead of a flat bench) could make all the difference.
In switching up your workouts and trying out different exercises, you are bound to not only have a far more effective and dynamic experience at the gym, but you are also less likely to grow bored and lose motivation.
To Gym or not to Gym?
The final way of ensuring that you stick to your New Year’s fitness resolutions is simply to do what you enjoy. Exercise comes in a multitude of different forms, and fitness is not something which can only be acquired and increased through a gym regime. Find the form of physical activity that you get most of a kick out of, as an active enjoyment of what you are doing is one of the most compelling reasons to stay motivated and keep on pushing yourself. If you would prefer the real-life experiences of the popular gym-machine alternatives, running or cycling could be rewarding endeavours.
If team sports are your thing, the football field, the netball court, or the hockey pitch are fantastic places to increase your cardiovascular fitness, whilst also working with a team to reach a shared goal. And finally, if the commute to a gym takes up too much time or the membership fee is too hefty, check out the vast range of workouts available on sites like YouTube. These are both physically challenging and time-efficient, as you can do an intense HIIT workout in just 30 minutes, within the comfort of your own room, and break into as much of a sweat as you would in the gym.
So, whether you find a committed gym-buddy who will force you out of the house and onto the treadmill, regularly switch up your work-outs, or throw yourself into the competitive atmosphere of a team sport, lets all push ourselves and be that 20% this February.