Back in mid-January The Wall Street Journal posted this article, “The Week Your New Year’s Resolution to Exercise Dies” and shared tips on how to make a new routine stick, despite statistics showing the largest month-to-month decrease in gym ‘check-ins’ as early as the third week in January. As of March, check-ins see a dramatic decline and only a small spike before plateauing in terms of new members. In other words, healthy New Year’s Resolutions are hard to keep, across the board.
I started working out consistently last October after YEARS of failed efforts to stick to any sort of exercise schedule. Even now, as I eagerly and HAPPILY (for the most part, since of course there are still those Sunday mornings where I choose pillow time over push-ups) make it to the gym 5-6 days a week, I wonder WHAT WAS DIFFERENT THIS TIME AROUND??
Here’s my best assessment as to Why My Workout Routine Finally Stuck:
Early last year I met with a personal trainer for a few weeks, oh a whim. We trained on Tuesdays and Fridays for an hour each time. I always considered personal training to be too serious of an investment, and frankly, believed it would be wasted on someone like myself whose fitness routine has often been described as “taking the stairs when the elevator is broken.” I was blown away to find the OPPOSITE was true, that a personal trainer is EXACTLY what I needed to get me going.
For starters, my personal trainer tailored my sessions to the body parts I wanted to target MOST while making sure I was lifting at the precise weight/resistance that would maximize my workout. This means I saw IMMEDIATE results in a way that working out incorrectly, on my own for weeks at a time, never produced. Gratification and real results in a record amount of time gave me the confidence and drive I needed to get over the initial, “This Sucks,” mentality. I was actually EXCITED to work out together and to literally SEE how much progress I had made by our next session.
Some friends I know work with trainers on a regular basis but my city girl budget couldn’t afford to keep up so instead, I joined the same gym and continued working out on my own. In place of my regularly scheduled trainer sessions I found a new friend at the gym who I liked working out with but also just liked in general. We’ve made our hang out time and work out time one in the same which means we are able to keep each other accountable in a positive way (I can’t wait to catch up in the morning!) versus negative (Come on, don’t be lazy!). I found this to be the KEY to my long term success in recent months.
Still, winter set in and routine become ROUTINE and I needed something NEW. Enter ZENGO, the hotspot spin class started right here in DC. Spin and/or any kind of biking/cycling has never been my strong suit and I would have never considered even going to a class until I met instructor Taryn and the Zengo team at the Washingtonian Fitfest last year. Aside from being generally awesome people they made Zengo feel so inviting instead of exclusive. And just watching everyone take a “spin” to club music made me want to hop on a bike right then and there! So when my regular gym schedule started to slack, I found a time to get up to Bethesda to take Taryn’s Saturday morning class. It was AWESOME.
The big takeaway is that routine is crucial but so is VARIETY because as soon as you get bored with your workout or it starts to plateau, motivation follows suit. Find friends who motivate YOU in whatever form is most effective. And when you notice your interest starting to lag, find something that’s new and fun for the time being. Your regular workout will still be there, but keep busy and active in the meantime.