Unless you fall madly in love with a sport, it can be a struggle to keep it up. Those who still manage to go out for a run in the rain, or train when it’s snowing outside, are admirable… but come few and far between! For most people, it’s more than good enough to find a type of exercise you enjoy, and feel the benefits from, without having to drag yourself through adverse weather conditions.
However, at the start of a new fitness regime, the temptation to stay inside with your favorite boxset can be overwhelming. Follow these simple tricks to kickstart an exercise habit you’ll want to keep to.
Find a sport you enjoy
It sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people try and try again to start running, or taking an aerobics class, or bending themselves into shape in a yoga studio, just to lose interest a few weeks later because they don’t enjoy it.
Rather than forcing it, look for activities that you genuinely rejoice in, as you’re so much more likely to establish a long-lasting habit if you get bona fide pleasure from taking part. Get yourself a fitness passport to your local city, like Class Pass, and try out all the different types of exercise available on your front door. Rate each activity on how much you’re smiling afterward, how much of a workout you feel you’ve had and how it makes you feel; deploying this basic criterion will find your perfect fitness match in no time.
You can bet that even Olympic-standard athletes had to start somewhere; it’s probable that even Bolt was beaten by someone at the start of his career! Remember to be kind and humble with yourself. So what if you can only run for a few minutes without walking for a while, or you’re not lifting as heavy as other girls your size, or you pretend to turn up the dial when asked to in a Spin class! You’re working out for you, and no one else, so go at your own rhythm.
More importantly, if you push too hard, you could do yourself a serious injury. Avoid the chance of tearing muscle tissue or snapping ligaments by warming up, only pushing yourself to your comfortable limits, and cooling down too. Once you’ve been working out for a while, you can up the ante as you get stronger and more able.
Work out at a time that works for you
Some people are early birds, others night owls; some want to get their energy pumping before arriving at the office, others want to sweat and destress after a long working day. Whichever camp you naturally fall in to, try to exercise at a time that works for you.
If it’s an individual sport you’re looking to take up, such as running or weight lifting in the gym, then you have ultimate freedom to do this as and when you please. However, if you’re joining a group you may be a little more restrained by the schedule; most gyms do offer classes morning, noon and night though.
Make it a habit
As much as it may feel grueling in the start, you’d be surprised how quickly a routine falls into place. Your body will quickly adapt to rising an hour earlier to fit in a workout, or you’ll establish new weekend plans such as brunch with friends following a fitness class.
In order to truly keep to an exercise regime, you need to build your life around it; try to avoid canceling sessions because a more exciting social event comes up, simply suggest a meetup time of a little later.
Create a workout group
One of the most effective ways to stick to a fitness plan is by starting it with friends. You’ll feel more motivated, and look forward to your workouts if you can combine exercise with socializing. That doesn’t mean having a natter rather than doing circuits in the park! What it does mean, though, is having a support network and your own personal cheerleaders to help you along the way.
Why not make a real show of your workout crew, and personalize water bottles or baseball caps to wear during your sessions? You can discover more ways to take ownership of your fitness gear online.
Set goals and give yourself rewards
There’s nothing more invigorating than smashing through a personal best or fitness goal. The exercise endorphins combined with the sense of achievement is dizzying and addictive!
To feel the rush, set yourself ambitions within your preferred exercise; perhaps you want to work up to a new Pilates pose or row 10 km in 45 minutes. Remember, as always, to be true to yourself and take it step by step to avoid injury.
Of course, you may want to reward yourself with more than the pride of a job well done, and certainly setting incentives can be a keen motivator. If you’re exercising with the aim to drop weight, then treat yourself to a new outfit when you reach a milestone on the scales. If you’re trying to build muscle mass, you should get yourself assessed at the gym and treat yourself to a scoop of frozen yogurt for every big improvement made. Life is about balance; so don’t sweat and stress too much. Remember to have fun, too!
Keeping it up
Although being a fitness freak isn’t for everyone, there is no one on this Earth who couldn’t benefit from taking on some exercise. Whatever you’re looking to achieve from a workout, you’ll have a better chance of establishing a routine with staying power if you find a sport you enjoy doing, and indeed if you can find friends to do it with you.
However, take caution not to push yourself too hard, too fast. Working out every day and constantly pushing your physical and mental limits will only bring one result: burn out. Start slow, set yourself realistic goals, dedicate your time, and treat yourself for a job well done.