How to Make It to the Gym

Starting an exercise program is one thing, sticking to it (as many people have come to find out) is another. Over two-thirds of all people drop out in less than six months, simply because they don’t have the right strategies to stick to their new routine when barriers get in the way. Most important is that you do something that you are willing and able to do again and again and again over time.

While there is no such thing as a fitness routine that works best for everyone, and also no exact time that is best to exercise, there are plenty of things that have proven to help new exercise routines stick.

Tip 1 – Make it fun.

Are you looking forward to your next work out? Doing something that you really enjoy increases your chances of sticking to that routine. On the other hand, if exercising is just one more thing on your to-do list, chances are that over time you will lose interest and motivation, and quit. Your willpower will only go so far, even if you have a good reason to exercise. The solution is to also motivate yourself intrinsically for what you are doing; so do what you like the most, and you are bound to keep going!

Tip 2- Make it short & sweet.

Fitness guru Michael Haddin once said, “If you are in the gym for longer than 45 minutes, you’re just making friends”.

One way of making sure that you get optimal results in less time, is by including a good chunk of high-intensity work in your routine. Basically, pushing harder saves time. Furthermore, you can be more time efficient by doing high-intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) and by practicing your exercises in a specific order. Another way to work-out more efficiently and increase the impact of your workout at the same time is by doing full-body weight exercises instead of training single muscles or muscle groups (like a biceps curl or chest press).

Combine all these strategies and you end up with high intensity circuit training (H.I.C.T.). This kind of training has become increasingly popular over the last decade, since it allows you to get a complete body work-out in less than fifteen minutes. Popular examples are Tabata and the 7-minute work-out, which in real life take about ten to 15 minutes when you include a proper warm-up. I will come back to both of them later.

Tip 3 – Do it together.

Most people will benefit from exercising together, with a friend, in a group or with colleagues. Not only because it is more fun, for many people it helps feeling responsible. If you are the type that really doesn’t like letting other people down, then pairing up for sports is a great idea, and can definitely help you stick to your routine. If you don’t find it hard to commit yourself, you may do it just because it’s more fun together.

Tip 4 – Create time to exercise.

If you, like many others, especially those with kids, feel like you have very little or no time to exercise, it’s important that you start creating time. Talk to your family, so they understand how important it is to you, and let them help you help free up some time for yourself. And also think about how you can help your partner get some exercise-time on the clock. In my experience, tag-team parenting to exercise regularly can go a long way. If you haven’t already, start having this conversation and enjoy your extra exercise time!

Tip 5 – Start NOW.

Starting a group fitness program, running with your spouse or joining a tennis league is an important first step. What is even more important: keep moving, day after day, step after step. Move when it’s cold, move when you’re tired, and even move when you are feeling too lazy to get off the couch. The toughest part of any exercise program is taking the first few steps out the door. So put it in your schedule and make it an appointment with yourself. Once you’ve taken that first step, it’s much easier to go on.

Whatever you want to do: start within 72 hours, and preferably today!