Like clockwork, every January brings an influx of newcomers with newly minted gym memberships looking to make good on their fitness resolutions. Open treadmills become consistently scarce, spin classes full and finding a squat rack between the hours of five and eight pm can prove a confrontational task. Come late January, however, the number of new faces gradually tapers off and the fitness floor is restored to equilibrium.
What sets those who remain committed apart from those who quit early on isn’t athletic ability but rather a proper mindset. Our own thoughts can easily affirm or dissuade our endeavors and when setting fitness goals it’s important to consider it a journey with both ups and downs. The following are some tips to help you stay motivated well into the spring and summer.
1. Set a goal; then strive for progress not perfection
I cannot over stress the importance of setting a clear and attainable goal when it comes to fitness. Failing to do so can set you up for failure as a gym floor can be an overwhelming place for the ill prepared. I suggest noting your starting point, such as your current weight, waist size or body fat ratio and writing it down along with where you’d like to be. With any fitness goal however, there are two very important things I like to keep in mind. First, Rome wasn’t built in one day. The human body changes gradually. In the same way weight is gained over time, it also takes time to lose weight or build muscle. Secondly, it’s important to strive for progress, not perfection. Every day of progress made is a step closer to your goal. Set a goal and keep these mantras in mind and you’ll be on your way sooner than you think
2. Gear up
From apparel to sneakers and accessories, it’s important to have the right gear for the goals you’ve set. If you’re looking to lose weight, you’ll probably want a step counter and a good pair of running shoes. If bulking up is your priority you’ll likely need to find the right lifting shoes and a blender bottle. The way I see it, if you’re going to be putting yourself through physical hell, you’re going to want all the help you can get. Knowing your goals and what’s available to help you achieve them will make it that much easier to get into the gym in the first place.
3. Form over weight
Not only does mastering proper form avoid injury, it ensures that you maximize every rep, set and mile. Far too often many head into the gym eager to make quick progress by throwing on many pounds of the weight or dialing up the resistance. This is most certainly the fastest way to injury and will do nothing but leave you disillusioned. The best way to set yourself up for success is to start with little to no weight. Whether you’re learning to squat or deadlift or looking to beat a personal record, it’s important to master proper form first then gradually work you way up from there.
4. Seek help; trainers, YouTube or a workout partner are all great resources
Most gym memberships today come with one free consultation with a trainer. Maximize this session by coming prepared. Know your goals and any exercises you’d like to learn and ask specific questions regarding form and execution. YouTube and Instagram are also great sources with tons of free and professional information. Following these pages will regularly expose you to new exercises. Finally, your fellow gym goers are generally more than willing to provide a spot or answer questions. While you should always follow up with trainers and online resources for technique a majority of the exercises in my regimen, were learned from observing others and asking questions.
Far too often people underestimate the importance of stretching because they believe it doesn’t directly contribute to achieving fitness goals. This could not be more wrong. Stretching enables your fitness goals by increasing mobility and expediting recovery. Avoiding to do so will leave your muscles feeling tight and put you on the fast track to injury.
6. Remember, summer bodies are made in the winter
Putting off the gym another week or month might be tempting but it’s important to remember that progress is made over time. The sooner you get started the sooner you’ll start seeing results. The dark days of winter are the perfect time to put in the work for your summer body. As The Great Muhammad Ali once said “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'” While it may take some time to reach champion status, at least you’ll look like one on the way there, leaving you ready when comes time for those #summer18 Instagram pics.