10 STEPS TO HELP YOU AVOID LOSING THE THRILL
What's your excuse for not making it to the gym on a
consistent basis? Locker room too smelly? Eye candy not sweet
enough? Music volume making your ears bleed? Feeling
intimidated by buff bodies crowding the free-weight
Most people start off strong with an exercise program, and
then within a few weeks they've got an excuse for not being
The majority of people will stop participating in a new
workout program within the first 90 days which is why health
clubs that are packed in January can seem virtually empty by
Which brings us to you.
If you're starting a new exercise program, you're probably
very excited about it, which is great. But that excitement is
going to wear off, at which point you'll begin to notice how
much time and effort a workout plan really requires.
And that's the point where you may be tempted to start
pulling back, or even to quit entirely. But we're not about to
let that happen. Follow these steps from the very beginning,
and you'll be one of those dedicated gym members who really get
their money's worth.
1. Make workouts a key part of your schedule. Many people
see exercise merely as recreation, not a necessity, which means
it's the first thing to go when daily schedules get crunched.
YOU NEED TO DECIDE that working out is as important as ANYTHING
in your life, even as important as LIFE ITSELF.
If you don't, as soon as the initial excitement of a new
program is over, everything else will get in the way; business
appointments, family obligations, TV, sitting on your duff.
Write your workout times into your calendar and stick to them
just as you would a vital business meeting.
2. Keep it mellow. You're a lot more likely to keep your
program for the long term if you avoid letting going to the gym
become a hassle. Choose a gym you can get to in a reasonable
amount of time at the time of day you're going to train.
If you're fighting gym traffic, you'll be a lot less
motivated. Find a place where you won't have to line up to use
the equipment you want. And unless you'll be going at the end
of the day and can wash up at home, make sure it has clean
showers and a comfortable changing environment.
3. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Many people often
start out too aggressively, going to a level that's higher than
they're capable of. As a result, they injure their muscle
fibers, so for 48 hours they're walking around like a mummy.
Then they stop going to the gym because they find themselves
dreading the pain.
Many people don't realize that long, drawn out workouts is
NOT better. You're not giving your body enough time to recover
between workouts. 60 minutes TOPS (if you're doing a strength
and aerobic workout), or about 30 minutes of a strength OR
aerobic workout. Make those minutes COUNT! You can still
workout daily as long as you keep your workouts short.
4. Set achievable goals. It's inevitable that as you start a
new program, you picture yourself looking like the models on TV
or in the magazines. But if you set your sights too high, you
may find yourself discounting the gains you are making. When
you're starting out, go over your long-term goals with a
trainer or coach, and decide what you can achieve based on your
Then, instead of looking far into the future, give yourself
intermediate weekly and monthly goals, such as doing an extra
rep or lifting 10 more pounds. If you always have new goals to
shoot for, it stays interesting.
REMEMBER: You're not exercising to lose weight. You're
exercising because of HOW YOU'LL FEEL as a RESULT of exercising
regularly. You WILL get leaner, you WILL have more energy, you
WILL have a higher self-esteem. If you don't achieve the goals
in the time you first set, it's not the goal that's wrong. It's
the time frame that was wrong. Keep focused on your goals.
5. Chart your progress. Gains from one workout to the next
can be subtle, and the only way to know how well you're really
doing is to write everything down. Keep a journal of your
workouts, as well as what you eat. Even people who are diligent
don't remember exactly how well things went if they keep
everything in their head.
When you write it down, you can compare results, see what is
and isn't working, and see that as time goes on YOU'RE REALLY
6. Mix it up. Doing the same workout over and over again
gets old fast, and your results won't be as good as if you try
a variety of exercises. Instead of doing 40 minutes daily on
the treadmill, try every darn aerobic machine in the gym and go
on hiking, inline skating and bicycling adventures whenever you
get a chance.
Change your weight training routine regularly to keep things
interesting and to help break through plateaus. A lack of
variety leads to staleness. A good rule of thumb is to change
your sets, reps, weight, and rest periods every 3-4 weeks.
You'll have more fun if you learn new tools and keep doing
7. Go one on one. One reason working out can seem less
enjoyable than playing sports is that it lacks interplay with
others. But there are lots of ways to have some spirited
competition in the gym, whether it's racing >> on
treadmills or competing (safely) with your weightlifting buddy.
When two guys are on the same regimen, they can make things
more fun by having "mini-contests."
Try going as many reps as you can on a certain weight. Or
see who can lift the most weight for 4-5 reps. Just make sure
the contest rules specify doing the exercise right, since
sacrificing form to lift more weight can be dangerous.
8. Work with a trainer or coach.Workouts seem easier and are
more effective with a professional proddingyou on; plus, you're
more likely to feel obligated to show up (especially if he's
going to charge you anyway). When there's someone watching you
and keeping an eye on your progress, there's incentive to keep
going. If you can't afford to hire a trainer for every workout,
just do it every couple of weeks or once a month and have
him/her help you set goals for you to reach in between.
Also, consider getting a training partner - just make sure
it's somebody who will show up every time, is dedicated as you
are... in other words, a clone of you.
9. Force yourself to hang in there religiously for the first
three months. Nothing sustains motivation better than results.
However, whether you're a beginner or a competitive
bodybuilder, your muscles must be given enough time to adapt to
the growth and recovery periods that strength training
Though you may see some results, like increases in strength,
early on, noticeable changes in your physique CAN take up to
three months. (NOTE: This DOESN'T mean that everyone will take
this long to see results. I've had clients see results in the
first couple of weeks; some waited a few months before things
fell into place.)
It also takes that long to establish a rhythm and discipline
to your training schedule, but after three months of
dedication, you'll be a lot less likely to fall off the
10. As soon as you miss a workout, re-motivate yourself.
This is the danger zone, the time when most people start giving
up. You've missed one workout, so what's the big deal about
skipping another, or all of them? Before you know it, your
whole program could go down the tubes. If you miss a workout,
you miss a workout. It's over. You can't bring it back. So it
makes NO sense to beat yourself up about it.
By Garrett J. Braunreiter, GHF's Success Coach
Global Health & Fitness