Going to the gym is relatively easy – making it stick is hard. We all know that person who hits the new year like a bull chasing a red flag, only to run out of steam after the first week, never to return!
So how do you do it? Making the gym a part of your ongoing routine involves the following four steps:
- Picking the right gym that you actually enjoy going to
- Starting with small habits & building them up
- Setting and tracking your long term goals over time
- Finding your support network to hold you accountable
So how do I put these steps into practise so that I actually succeed?
How to Make the Gym a Part of Your Routine – Summary
⇒ Picking the right gym. Do NOT pick a gym just because it is convenient. Find a gym that you love, and keeps pulling you back each week.
⇒ Starting Small: Joining the gym for the first time can be extremely stressful and it can take up a lot of time and energy just to get through the door. Slowly exposing yourself to new this new stress, allows you to acclimatise and suddenly a trip to the gym, that used to make you sick just thinking about it, is a breeze.
⇒ Setting and tracking your goals gives you clear and measurable targets to strive for. Combined with regular check ins goal setting is an excellent way to keep you motivated as well as ensure you are on the right track.
⇒ Finding your support network: Your support is the network of people around you that can help you through this journey. Keeping you accountable, motivated and on track to your goals. Your support network can come in the form of family, friends, trainers, or someone you bump into at the gym from time to time. Find a friend, gym buddy or trainer to keep you accountable and support you through your journey.
Making the Gym a Habit
Making the gym a consistent part of your routine can be a tough egg to crack.
Every single day, we are only given so much energy and capacity.
It’s a limited amount.
Work, family commitments, life stressors – you name it – are all responsible for draining us of some of our daily capacity.
The PROFOUND thing about routines and habits is that they allow us to get more done in each day. When things become a habit, they drain less of our daily capacity and allow us to achieve more.
In saying this – building habits is difficult, it takes a lot to make them stick!
If you rely on solely your own strength, will power and motivation to fight back all the pressures and barriers to making the gym a part of your routine, you might hold on for a while, but eventually, you are going to get tired and everything will come undone.
But if you employ the help of systems and those around you to give you a helping hand keeping your routine in order, you are going to be able to fight off the pressures and barriers that come up.
You’ll be able to stick to the plans and slowly make your way to your goals.
Here are our four steps to help you master the gym and make it a staple in your weekly routine.
Step 1. Pick the Right Gym
What is picking the right gym? Why is it important? How do I do it?
The first step to making the gym a part of your routine is picking the right gym – a gym that you love, that caters to you and your journey.
In today’s day and age, convenience is king. Convenience dictates almost everything we do.
People take the same approach when it comes to picking a gym. They choose the gym that is down the road, despite the fact that they hate the vibe. Or they pick the gym that is cheap, even though they hate the classes and they do not have enough equipment.
Like we have said many times before, new gym-goers are like baby deer trotting through the woods without their mother. The smallest hiccup or molehill could derail this entire experience and send little Bambi running for the hills.
The reality is that there is such a saturation of gyms and fitness centres that no matter what your goals – weight loss, strength, bodybuilding or rehabilitation, there is a gym out there, filled with trainers who want to help you!
So do not settle for the gym down the road if it doesn’t meet your needs. Do your research and find the gym that fits! Driving an extra 5 or 10 minutes might make all the difference.
In our experience, when people enjoy their gym, they are far more likely to engrain it into their routine. This doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult or that the workouts won’t be painful or tough. However, finding a gym that you love will ensure you keep going back.
It’ll only be a matter of time before it becomes engrained in your routine.
Step 2. Start Small & Build Up
Starting anything new is tough.
So many people start their fitness journey with a rush of emotion. They see their goals ahead and picture themselves diving across the finish line, soaking in all the glory and admiration that comes with it.
This tactic only works for a very specific type of person, in a very specific situation.
For the rest of us, this is a sure-fire way to burn out after the first month.
Instead – find your minimum effective dose.
This is all about picking something achievable, that you can sustain consistently.
Why is taking it slow important?
Joining the gym for the first time can be stressful and it can take up a lot of time and energy just to get through the door.
It’s similar to the stress response we get in other situations such as starting a new job or a new date. The first few days or weeks are going to be somewhat taxing as you get a feel for this new and strange environment.
But slowly as you continue to expose yourself to new this new stress, you begin to acclimatise and suddenly a trip to the gym – that used to make you sick just thinking about it – is a breeze.
If you jump too far into the deep end you can burn out, leaving you even more unhappy and unmotivated than before.
Or if you can bite off more then you can chew, causing you to feel like it is impossible to achieve your goals, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and in a fear-induced paralysis.
So that is why we start small. Slowly add the gym to your routine. We suggest 1-3 sessions a week.
Giving yourself small measurable stepping stones allows you to build up, building confidence, motivation, and coordination.
How do I do it?
What can I commit to?
Identify what type and duration of planned exercise do each week.
When will I do it?
Look at your weekly schedule and pick out 1-3 days and times where you can commit to going to the gym.
Do it Consistently, without Fail
Nail it for four weeks. Make it stick. If you can’t, pick something more achievable.
Add Another Layer
After a successful 4 weeks. Add another layer. An extra day, session or increase the duration of each session depending on your schedule. Then repeat steps 3&4 until you are happy with your routine.
This may seem slow but giving yourself a slow progression is essential when trying to make the gym a part of your routine.
Step 3. Set and Track your Long Term Goals
Setting and tracking your goals provides an extra level of accountability to keep you invested in your healthy routines.
What is goal setting?
Goal setting is identifying a specific and measurable desired end result for you to strive towards.
Why is goal setting so important?
Goal setting gives you a clear picture of the journey ahead of you, the obstacles in your way and the progression you have made.
It helps to boost your motivation, determination and resilience.
Without specific and measurable goals, you are essentially walking around in the dark…
…moving around but with no way of knowing whether you are moving forwards, backwards, or staying in the exact same spot.
How do I set and track my goals?
Set Aside Time for Goal Setting
Set aside time to take a deep dive into goals, motivations and barriers you are facing to achieving your goals.
So often when a trainer asks a client ‘what are your goals?’, you will be hit with a straight bat response…
‘I just want to lose a little bit of weight, get toned, feel better.’ – it is abundantly clear when someone has not taken the time to think about this question.
Taking the time to break down this question and understanding specifically why these goals are important to you is essential to understanding what you are truly aiming for.
If you want to lose weight, ask yourself why?
If you want to get stronger, ask yourself who are you doing this for?
It is near impossible to score when you only have a vague idea of where the goal is.
Make sure your Goals are Smart
S.M.A.R.T stands for:
- Make sure your goals are SPECIFIC to you.
- Easily MEASURED.
- REALISTIC and not farfetched.
- And are TIMED, to give you a sense of urgency and accountability.
Coaches around the world use the SMART acronym to give clients and new gym-goers a basic system to help them set goals.
Often when people join the gym for the first time their eyes are bigger than their stomachs. Making big goals, like:
‘I want to lose 20kg in 2 months.’
Is that achievable or reasonable? Not quite.
Or ‘I just want to be able to run 5km without stopping.’
A great goal, but this person did not give themself a time frame.
This small acronym covers the bases and helps you set clear and concise goals that you can actually strive for.
Scheduling regular check-ins with an experienced trainer to monitor your progress and adjust your training is essential when monitoring your goals.
E.g. If you want to lose 20 kg in 6 months, organise a check-in once a month.
This works on a number of fronts.
a) These small check-ins act as small goals and targets, breaking down your big goal into manageable steps, which will help you stay motivated and on task.
b) Regularly checking in allows you to identify and critique the different parts of your routine that are positively or negatively impacting your results.
c) Having clearly outlined and scheduled check-ins to measure your progress takes a lot of the stress off the individual. Some people find improving their health and fitness can be extremely stressful, and can be pushed into an obsessive and anxious mindset.
Checking in with a trainer will allow you to break down and understand your results in relation to your body, your greater journey to your goals and put into context where you are in your journey. Preventing you from going through intense periods of stress, shame and anxiety.
Once you hit one goal, restart and find another.
Getting to your target day can go one of two ways – elation or devastation. But do not let that stress you out.
Most people who miss their goals by a slither or a slice tend to get quite down – feeling like they have let themselves down. But at this point, the important part is to focus on how far you have come not how far you have got to go.
Every time I put an IKEA flatpack together, there always seems to be one missing tiny screw or sticker – it’s so damn frustrating!
But does the furniture still work? Yes.
Is it still safe and secure enough? Yes
Do you undo all your hard work and throw it out? HELL NO
Just because it was not quite as perfect as you had hoped, does not mean you have wasted your time. It was still an amazing success!
And the best part is, now that you have tried, you can set new goals with new timelines, or give yourself another week to nail these ones.
There is no losing. Just a slightly smaller win.
Setting goals is pivotal to ensuring exercise becomes a regular part of your routine.
Step 4. Find your support.
What is my support?
Your support is the network of people around you that can help you through this journey. Keeping you accountable, motivated and on track to your goals.
Your support network can come in the form of family, friends, trainers, or someone you bump into at the gym from time to time.
Why is support important?
There are so many moments where you might want to turn back. Rest for another day. These small links in your network can be the difference between you falling off the wagon or sticking with it.
How do I do it?
Start with the people closest to you.
A friend, partner or family member you can trust to encourage you on this journey. Tell them about your goals, and your plan of action. Checking in with them each week, expressing your struggles and triumphs.
Find a gym buddy.
This can be anyone. Your best friend or one of the other members of your group classes. This will help you stay accountable when you are at the gym, and keep going back.
Find a trainer.
You do not need to commit to ongoing personal training, but checking in with a personal trainer once a month can be an excellent way to maintain focus, accountability and get real, honest feedback about your strengths and weaknesses.
Spread the word.
As you build your confidence, slowly find more trustworthy and encouraging people to share your journey with to add a layer of pride in your achievements and progress, and a layer of accountability to keep going!
The Next Steps
With the pressures and distractions of life, making the gym a part of your routine can be difficult, but with a set of systems in place, you’re far more likely to see success.
We hope that these four steps give you the foundation you need to make the gym a part of your routine. Don’t just read this article, go and get a notebook and put these four pillars into practice, starting now!