Congrats, you made it through (what feels like) the longest month of the year and have passed what is perhaps the most important milestone on your health and fitness journey – the beginning!
The Struggle Is Real
However, you may have noticed your initial excitement and motivation to start a new fitness routine is dwindling somewhat this month. And we understand why. The struggle to get out of bed or off the couch is real. But don’t be too hard on yourself, motivation to exercise isn’t something that comes naturally to the vast majority of us.
In fact, research carried out by scientists at the University of London discovered that our brains are naturally programmed to minimize effort. So essentially we are hard-wired to choose the path of least resistance.
Furthermore, there is a difference between lacking motivation and lacking effective motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes from the joy and fulfilment someone gets from doing something. This type of motivation is the most effective in achieving any long-term success. Essentially, it means that those who enjoy exercise are more likely to stick with it over time.
And the good news is even if you lack this intrinsic motivation to exercise, you can learn how to enjoy it and strengthen your willpower.
Here are our top tips:
1. How does it make you feel?
Despite knowing the benefits of exercise, many people drop out of a new exercise programme because they don’t see any physical appearance changes after a few sessions.
We know this is hard, especially if your goal is to lose weight. But try not to focus on your aesthetic. Instead, think about how exercise makes you feel. Exercise naturally energies you. It gets your blood flowing which releases endorphins which can alleviate stress, tension and pain. It helps you to be more focused, to sleep better and to feel happier. Pay attention to these benefits in the first few weeks.
And this is what helps people to love their workouts and ultimately stick with them over time. Visible results can take a bit longer, depending on your starting point and other factors like diet however by week 6 you should start to see the difference. And by week 12 others will start to notice too.
2. Monitoring Progress
Monitoring your results and setting achievable milestone goals is one of the best ways to keep motivated year-round. Wearables and fitness apps can help you keep track of your progress and motivate you to stay active. By monitoring your activity levels and nudging you to get moving when needed.
At Gym Plus we want to help you stay motivated. Every member gets a free fitness assessment when they join and a personalised fitness programme, which will be reviewed by one of our expert trainers every six weeks upon request.
And furthermore, we can monitor your progress via the Tanita body composition scales, available in all our clubs. Measuring your metabolic age, BMI, body fat percentage, water retention %, visceral fat and bone density – it helps you to understand the positive health changes in your body and keeps you motivated to proceed.
3. Controlling The Change
Once you take notice of how exercise makes you feel and you start to track your results, you will feel in control of your own goals. And this sense of being able to take direct action which results in real change plays a major role in motivation.
Seize this control by creating a set of short-term goals. Also, have an organised schedule that will help to drive you to exercise and will keep you coming back. According to a recent study in the Journal of Obesity, people who planned their exercise routine and set short term goals were more likely to reach their weight loss goals.
At Gym Plus we make it easy for you to book classes via the FitSense App, helping you to plan your weekly exercise in advance making you more likely to show up.
Other tips for staying organised include packing your gym bag the night before and getting a good night’s sleep. Charge up your earphones, lay out your gym gear, set your alarm and you’re ready to go!
4. Strengthening Your Willpower
Research has shown that willpower, just like a muscle, can be strengthened over time through physical activity. By exercising regularly, people increase their ability to resist temptations and their perseverance grows.
At this stage of your programme focus on consistency rather than frequency. Similarly, don’t focus on the length of time you spend during each session. If you are consistent, your willpower will become strong physically and mentally.
This takes time and it involves lots of little steps. To build your willpower, you need to set a realistic exercise schedule that fits into your current lifestyle – even if that’s a 20-minute workout routine to start with.
Find ways to include exercise into your daily routine in between gym sessions, like going for a brisk walk on your lunch or in the evenings after dinner. And if you’re short on time when you get to the gym try HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts a few times a week, which have been proven to be the best way to burn fat as they provide a great boost to your metabolism.
5. Keep It Fun & Mix It Up
Take the time to find something you enjoy! We understand that not everyone enjoys the gym. But there are so many other ways to incorporate your cardio, resistance and flexibility exercises into your routine.
For example, why not try a cardio class such as Aqua Fit, Cardio Combat, Boxfit or Keiser Indoor Cycling? Or try swimming, hiking or running. For resistance training, you can take classes that incorporate weights or your own body weight such as Kettlebells, Tempolift, XFit or Suspension Training. Or try variations of weightlifting like powerlifting or olympic lifting. For your flexibility training, try yoga, pilates or a stretch and relax class.
Try a few classes until you find the ones you enjoy the most, keep an open mind and give yourself a chance to find the activity you will keep coming back to.
6. Introduce Some Competition
Finally, for a lot of people competition helps to motivate them to exercise year-round. This might take the form of beating your personal best, competing against your gym buddy or taking part in a group challenge or race such as a 5K run or a mini-marathon. Check out the list of races around Ireland taking place this year HERE.
At Gym Plus we regularly host competitions that everyone can get involved in. You can stay up to date on what’s coming up in-club or by following us on social media.
Finally, remember it’s your attitude to your progress that is the most important thing so don’t let yourself get stressed out. Pushing yourself too hard, in the beginning, can lead to injury and burn out so take it slow and steady and progress will happen.
If you have recently joined Gym Plus and are looking for motivation to kick off your new health and fitness programme, remember to book in your free fitness assessment at reception. Or if you are considering joining this month, grab your free guest pass HERE.