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How to Keep New Year's Fitness Resolutions

The new year is nearly upon us, and (as anyone who's a regular gym-goer can attest) that means that gyms are about to get really busy. With the new year comes new year's resolutions - resolutions to do something better than you did the previous year. A lot of times these resolutions relate to some sort of fitness goals, so naturally as soon as January hits, the gym fills up with all kinds of new faces, each starting off the new year strong with added grit and determination to achieve their goals. But then February rolls around and almost all of those newcomers are gone, and pretty much the only people you see are the ones who've always been there.

What happened?

Most likely, all those New-Years-Resolutioners got burnt out, busy, or simply lost motivation. Starting a fitness routine can be challenging, it takes motivation, determination, and support. Here are some tips to help you achieve your goals for the new year:

1. Set a goal

Before you buy that gym membership, you need to decide what it is you want to work towards. It needs to be something you genuinely want to do and it doesn't really matter what it is, so long as it keeps you motivated. A goal should be:

  • Specific

  • Realistic

  • Achievable

So, for example: 'get more fit' is not a goal, 'be able to run a mile' is not a goal, 'build bigger muscles' is not a goal. A goal could be: 'be able to run a mile in under 9 minutes,' 'be able to do 10 pull-ups,' 'swim a half-mile nonstop.' Find something you really want to do, and set a specific, realistic, and achievable goal.

2. Make plans

Once you have a goal in mind, you need to make a plan towards achieving that goal. This plan should incorporate the same elements as your goal: specific, realistic, and achievable. Develop a training plan based on your goal. If you have no idea where to begin, Google, Youtube, etc. are fantastic resources to help put together a training plan for almost anything.

Make sure you plan fits your schedule too, if you know you're only going to have time to workout on Saturday, don't make plans to go workout during the week. Extra time doesn't just magically appear cause you made a New Year's Resolution. And if you're not used to working out everyday, don't make plans to workout everyday - you'll get burned out fast. Which brings me to Tip #3.

3. Don't get burnt out

Starting a workout plan is easy. Keeping it going 1-2 months down the road can be hard. If you aren't accustomed to working out often (or at all), start very slowly. I would recommend 1-2 times per week. And don't make any early sessions very hard. Try to limit your workouts to 20-30 minutes at first. You can always increase the frequency, duration, or intensity of workouts as you get more used to them, but trying to re-motivate yourself after getting burnt-out can be very hard. Ensuring that your goals and plans are truly REALISTIC will go a long way to making sure you keep your motivation.

4. Reward Yourself!

If you achieve your goal then by all means, reward yourself! Decide ahead of time that once you meet you goal, you can go buy that fancy whatever you've had your eye on. For me, fitness is its own reward, but (for most people) having a little extra incentive can push your motivation to the next level.

Though if your goal is to lose excess weight in some form or another, rewarding yourself with calories probably isn't the best idea, unless it's a long term goal, like completing a half marathon (rewarding yourself with a donut for each 20 minute jog isn't going to do you any favors).

5. Don't rely on a gym membership

Having a gym membership is great. It gives you access to all the fitness equipment you could want and is a great first step towards achieving fitness goals. But just having that membership isn't going to help you unless you actually use it. Simply having access to something doesn't guarantee that you'll use it. If you are serious about your fitness resolutions, set your goals, make your plans, and then buy that gym membership. Just don't go to Planet Fitness.....

It should be noted that you certainly don't need access to a gym to achieve most fitness goals. A lot of aerobic exercises and some weight training can be done from home. It all depends on what your goals are and how you want to achieve them.

6. Support System

Whether you're in AA or just trying to accomplish your new year's resolutions, having a support system is very beneficial. Don't keep your goals to yourself! Tell your friends, family, dog, whoever about your resolution and ask them to support you. Finding a buddy to go work out with can be a huge motivator for both of you!


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