It’s no secret January is a popular time for people to commit to a new (or maybe recurring) set of fitness goals. A new year is the perfect time to wipe the slate clean and start fresh, and society makes it pretty easy to stay on track this month. Many gyms have membership specials for people to sign up, fitness studios offer deals on class packages and a handful of fitness, diet and nutrition plans and programs are released.
But what happens once January is over? According to U.S. News, statistics show a whopping 80% of people fail on their resolutions by mid-February. So if you’re starting to feel a lack of motivation to maintain healthy habits and your interest in the gym is going by the wayside, you’re not alone. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you have to become another statistic. We talked with a few trainers to find out how they keep themselves and their clients motivated into February — and beyond. Try some of these tips and tricks to keep your exercise goals on track throughout the entire year:
1. WRITE YOUR WORKOUTS INTO YOUR SCHEDULE
Think of your fitness as you would your job — if you have a meeting, you put it on your calendar as non-negotiable and the same should go for your workouts. “Put fitness on your schedule,” says Luke Lombardo, RRCA-certified running coach, IRONMAN triathlete and master trainer at Lagree Fitness in Los Angeles. “Every Monday through Friday you’re expected to show up because it’s part of your routine.” Plan to hit the gym at a specific time and set an alert or an alarm to help keep you accountable.
2. PLAN YOUR WORKOUTS IN ADVANCE
Whether you’re a group fitness fanatic or personal training sessions are more your fancy, plan and sign up for them in advance. Some studios have a specific time period before classes open for sign up, but as soon as they do, be sure you claim your spot. “Booking ahead of time will make you more accountable to actually go to class because you’ll have been planning to for days or weeks,” says Lombardo. “Let’s be honest — no one wants a late cancel fee.”
This also applies to solo strength training or cardio sessions. If you have a plan when you walk into the gym (e.g., 3 miles on the treadmill followed by 20 minutes of lower body weight training), you’ll be much less likely to wander around and waste valuable time that could be spent sweating.
3. FIND THE RIGHT ACCOUNTABILIBUDDY
When you’re looking for a gym or workout buddy to take this journey with you, try to find someone you know pushes you to be your best and give your all in the gym. Once you find that person, plan to meet for workouts, group classes or runs. “You are far less likely to make an excuse and ditch the gym for the day if you have someone that is depending on you to show up,” says Lombardo. “And make sure it’s a friend who will call you out if you’re thinking about skipping.” (That means your flaky friend is out — sorry.)
4. SIGN UP FOR AN OBSTACLE COURSE (OR ANY KIND OF) RACE
Obstacle course races, or OCRs, have become increasingly popular over the past few years. Whether you’ve done one or not, you won’t be sorry if you sign up for an OCR in the upcoming month or two. “These races are fun, and there’s a lot of camaraderie if you sign up with friends — or even make friends during the race,” says Noam Tamir, certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of TS Fitness in New York City. “They’re a great way to stay motivated to workout during the winter months because most of them take place in the spring.” Also a lot of these races come with training programs that are emailed ahead of time so you can get race-ready, adds Tamir.
This works for running, cycling, triathlon or any other kind of race. If you know you have an event coming up (that you paid registration fees to sign up for), you’re probably going to stick to your workouts — or risk being undertrained and miserable on race day.
5. POST YOUR WORKOUTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
“I know some people will have mixed feelings on this one, but it can be something as simple as ‘checking in’ to a gym or class on Facebook if you don’t want to post your workout or gym outfit on your Instastory,” says Lombardo. “In 2018, we are so attached to social media that chances are your friends will notice if you start to slip up if you don’t notice first.” Socializing your workouts helps you feel a greater expectation to do them, and will make it more obvious when you don’t.
All those posts can also help you track your success (#gains) over time. While you may not notice small changes from day-to-day or week-to-week, comparing pictures of yourself three months ago to today’s selfie could prove you’ve made much more progress than you even realized.
6. BOOK A VACATION AT THE BEGINNING OF SPRING
Instead of waiting until the weather gets warm to hit the weight room and get in shape, have a trip booked as motivation to keep you in shape until you go, especially if it’s somewhere you’ll be in a swimsuit. “When we know we are going to be showing more of our body, we want to feel confident and comfortable,” says Tamir. “Knowing that there’s a specific time in the near future when you’re going to be beachside can be all the motivation you need to get into the gym.”
Written by Amy Schlinger, a New York-based fitness and health writer and editor whose work has appeared in SELF, Men’s Fitness, Shape, Muscle & Fitness HERS, Pilates Style, Max Sports & Fitness and more. Check her out at www.amyschlinger.com.