It's a new year again, and a lot of us are using this moment as an opportunity to set some self-improvement goals. Nearly all of them will be focused on dieting and personal fitness.
It was the Babylonians who began making New Year’s resolutions 4000 years ago. Back then, Babylonians were chiefly concerned with a good harvest. But in our post-pandemic society, most of us just want to increase the amount of exercise we get this year.
“New Year, New Me” is a perennial phenomenon that has personal trainers dealing with an influx of fresh prospects again, and online searches for “PT near me” and “personal trainers” are known to skyrocket during the month of January. And even though health clubs are accustomed to a constant inflow of new members throughout the year, the volume of new members these clubs are seeing this year is absolutely mind-boggling with some local gyms reporting close to a 50% increase in new memberships.
An astonishing 95% of the New Year’s resolutions we set this year will be fitness related. Unfortunately, according to a new study out of the U.K., two out of three people will end up abandoning their resolutions within a month. The reasons vary but most of the time we find that it’s too difficult to stick to our resolutions because we bite off more than we can chew setting goals that are too big and rather vague.
After spending some time around the fitness scene in London, we’ve gathered some great intel from personal trainers about how they plan to help their clients achieve their New Year’s resolutions this year by helping them build healthy workout habits and properly set new goals for themselves.
Cultivating New Fitness Habits
What are habits? Stated simply, they’re just behaviors (either good or bad) that are consistently repeated throughout the course of daily lives. Converting new fitness resolutions into healthy workout habits can initially be difficult because we tend to drop something new (like a workout) once life gets too busy. In other words, if something like going to the gym isn’t cultivated into a habit, it becomes easy and convenient to skip the routine altogether because we’re not accustomed to the routine in the first place.
Here’s the thing we need to know about developing new habits – if we don't consistently get started, then it’s unlikely that these new activities will be successfully converted into new habits. According to a recent study on “habit formation,” we’re successful in adding these new habits into our lives when they’re simple and when they fit conveniently into our existing lifestyles.
Here’s the connection: Fitness options are quite plentiful. That means you shouldn’t feel as though your only chance of success hinges on adopting a routine that you spend time agonizing over. Finding a fitness activity that you at least find mildly enjoyable is the first step in cultivating a new fitness habit.
Remember, you can improve your fitness this year just by choosing to do planks in your living room during commercials or by doing a 20-minute yoga routine on YouTube every other day. You’re at liberty to try out different types of workouts until you come upon one that you look forward to doing - this does wonders to help you adopt a fitness resolution that can become a habit over time.
Goal Setting for Fitness
Talk to any personal trainer and they’ll tell you that goal setting is vital to the success of any fitness resolution. Too often when we try to achieve fitness goals on our own, we set unrealistic targets that aren’t sustainable in our lives. If you’re hoping to stick with your fitness resolutions this year, consider investing in a journal or choosing an app that allows you to document your progress and set specific milestones; personal trainers feel this is a vitally effective strategy if weight loss is your goal.
Milestones are especially effective in goal setting because they serve as a method of holding ourselves accountable; a reminder to put all the effort we can into the days leading up to each milestone. Most fitness professionals recommend starting off small and setting incremental milestones which are also occasions to celebrate!
One of the most profound pieces of advice for this article came from a personal trainer we ran into from East London (Canary Wharf). She told us that one of the big reasons her clients enjoy such a high rate of success is because she encourages them not to lose sight of the “why” in their resolutions. It’s her way of putting meaning behind the fitness goals that her clients set.
In other words, setting a goal to run for 20 minutes every day is great, but she reminds her clients to pause and understand why they’re running. They do it because they know they’ll feel great once they’re done and, by doing this exercise, it will help to contribute towards their upcoming weight loss milestone. “If they don’t take a moment to consider why they’re exercising, my clients have less motivation to achieve their overall goal.”
Here’s the bottom line: On average, less than 1 of every 10 people achieve their New Year’s resolution. What can you do to be different? Based on the feedback from the fitness professionals we talked to in the U.K, start small. The challenge with setting huge goals is that it’s not realistic to expect that you will follow through each time. By starting out with smaller, more achievable goals, it’s more likely we can stay motivated and feel a sense of achievement at every step of our journey.
New Year’s resolutions are a curious thing. People tend to put so much focus on the goals they set during this single, specific time of year. It can place enormous pressure on us to achieve our goals and we experience overwhelming guilt when we don’t achieve it or give up.
Remember, if you blow your resolution, take an opportunity to take stock of why you failed. Was your goal too big? Less than realistic? Learn from experiences of the past and re-establish your resolution anytime during the year.
Anyone who genuinely wants to achieve something doesn't sit around waiting for an excuse to start...