OK, let’s see a show of hands for people that have made a resolution, or even had the idea that they want to make fitness a priority in the coming year. That’s right, pretty much everyone has a hand in the air right now. I can’t say that I will suggest anything you haven’t heard before, but maybe I will.
Many people want to sign up with a gym in January. You see these people on tours or signing papers at member’s services every year. This can be an excellent option. A gym offers you variety and a social environment. Some have pools, climbing walls, squash courts, group classes, or multi-purpose gymnasiums. Still, the most important factor in selecting a gym is location, location, location. Will you be more likely to go to the gym before work, during your lunch break or after work? Depending on when you plan to go, that should help you select a location. I’m able to go to the gym in the morning or after work. If I go home first, I’m not likely to get up and go to the gym, and I know that. So, my facility is on my way home from work. You need to be honest with yourself, or you may struggle with your goals. Most people who go first thing in the morning find the most sucess making this a habit and putting their time in. If its done first thing in the morning, when life throws a wrench in your plan on unexpected plans come up later in the day it doesn’t interfere with your workout plans.
Don’t go overboard when you start. We all have these ambitions of going from the couch to running a marathon in a month, but that’s not a healthy or realistic goal. If you start out in January it’s likely to be very intimidating and busy. Don’t go on Monday nights. I know that that sounds counterproductive for me to say, but everyone feels guilty for their weekend indulgences and wants to start the week off right. If you are put off by crowds of people and waiting to use equipment, don’t go on Mondays for the first while.
Don’t make it a goal to go every day of the week either. This is a great way to incur an injury. Ease yourself into things. Maybe you want to go once or twice a week for the first couple of weeks. Taking a scheduled class that runs once or twice a week might be just what you need. You will feel you should go and it’s offered at specific times, not whenever feel up to it.
Go with a friend. This sounds easy but never is. You likely also have a friend who would like to be more active. You decide that this is something you can do together, and you can. The trouble is usually finding a time and location that will work for both of you. However, if you can, this may be a great option. No one seems to see people as often as they would like to. If you have a workout buddy you may be able to socialize while you work out together. Also, you will have a commitment and might feel that you are disappointing or letting your friend down if you don’t go or cancel on them.
Maybe the gym isn’t for you. Do you like to ride a bike, walk or run? You can do all of these things outside or even in your home with the right equipment. Once again you need to be realistic on how often you will do these activities. Make things comfortable and easy for yourself. If you feel this is a chore, you won’t want to stick with it. If you want to, you can still involve a friend or a partner to help you with your pursuits for fitness at home. This may also be a great way to involve your friends or see more of your neighbourhood or the city. Fitness doesn’t have to be expensive, it can be free.
If you want to do something socially, but not a gym, you may also want to consider joining a sports team. There are many indoor teams year round at various costs and for all ranges of abilities. There is both the Edmonton and Calgary Sport and Social Clubs where you can sign up as an individual or register a team. These are supposed to be a chance to be social and active, but do sometimes end up being competitive. Each sport and team is different though.
Perhaps you need the one on one of a personal trainer. If this is you, I advise you to look into their certifications. If you have specific health concerns, you might want to find a trainer who has expertise with your specific concerns. Personal trainers may have certification through the AFLCA (the governing Alberta fitness association) in the form of a short training course. Some have a diploma or a degree through a post secondary institution. If this is something that is important to you, you might want to learn what the letters at the end of their name stand for.
Now comes the hard part, what do you do to achieve your goal and make it a habit? Some people need to see a calendar filled with gold stars or smiley faces tracking what they’ve done. If this sounds like something you need, get a calendar, put it on your fridge. The visual affirmation might be just the reward you need for yourself. Some people need to make their goals to be made public knowledge. If everyone knows that your goal is to run 5km in 25 minutes you might push yourself harder to achieve this goal. Otherwise if you don’t work at it, you might feel like you misrepresented yourself. You can also reward yourself with a new outfit, a new gadget or a trip. If your overall goal seems too much, try setting a series of mini goals that will eventually get you to your end goal.
Try not to get discouraged when you have setbacks. Life happens and you have to be able to adapt. Don’t ever beat yourself up over bumps in the road, it just makes it that much more difficult to get into the groove again.
On behalf of Adam and Scott, I wish you all a happy healthy new year!