Happy Friday! Today’s post covers a really important topic: sticking to your exercise routine. I talk to so many people who tell me they only work out 1-2 times a month and they all have different reasons. If you don’t exercise as much as you’d like to, this post is for you! Here are my tips for developing an exercise routine and sticking with it.
Start with an achievable goal.
If you currently work out less than once a week, deciding that you’re going to work out five days a week probably doesn’t make sense. Starting with a goal that you can actually achieve makes you more likely to stick to it. If you rarely ever work out, maybe going for a walk 3 days a week is a good place to start. You can always adjust your goals to make them more challenging if you need to, but holding yourself to an unrealistic standard isn’t going to promote progress.
Find the workouts you actually enjoy doing.
One great thing about fitness is that your routine doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. I interact with a lot of runners, but I personally don’t enjoy running at this stage of my life. I’d much rather get my cardio in a spin class. Do you hate the Stairmaster? Guess what? You don’t have to use it! Most movements and workouts have an equivalent that’ll offer similar benefits. When you’re doing something you hate, the chances of you maintaining a routine are slim. But when you find a class or workout you genuinely enjoy, you’ll be much more likely to stick with it!
Try group fitness.
In 2019, there are so many different types of group fitness classes available. If you haven’t gone to a class in the last few years, understand that group fitness has changed drastically and there are options for everyone now. Some people’s perception of group fitness classes is Zumba or 80s aerobics classes. But I promise there’s so much more!
Once I became a group fitness instructor, I discovered just how much more I prefer taking classes over working out by myself. I have an instructor pushing me and fellow classmates motivating me, so I go much harder than when I’m working out alone. I also don’t have to think about what my workout for the day is going to be. My instructor takes care of that for me! Plus, classes are a great way to meet other people who can eventually become accountability partners!
I’d recommend getting a membership at a gym with a good selection of classes. CrossFit, Pilates, hot yoga, barre, HIIT, and spin classes are some of my personal favorites. A lot of inexpensive gym memberships offer Les Mills classes which are excellent, especially if you want to get stronger. I reviewed some of the Les Mills programs here. Check and see if your gym offers any of their programs!
When I’m traveling and don’t have access to my regular fitness classes, I’ll grab my laptop and put on a workout video from YouTube! POPSUGAR Fitness has some great ones you can do right from your bedroom or hotel room with no equipment.
Consider your workouts mandatory appointments.
Just like work meetings or social events, I schedule my workouts in my calendar. I use my Outlook calendar so that I get a reminder on my phone when it’s time to get ready to go. When it’s in your schedule just like other meetings, you’re less likely to skip it! Eventually, you should start to see your workouts as appointments that you can’t cancel. Of course, life happens. So, stay flexible and shuffle things around as needed.
If you’re just getting into the swing of things, try scheduling workout classes with a strict cancellation policy. That way, you’ll actually have to pay a fee if you cancel last minute or no-show! This will help keep you accountable and make sure you show up.
When I talk to people about the reasons they don’t consistently exercise, the biggest reason I hear is that they’re too busy.
This isn’t a viable excuse! Everyone is busy. We all have things going on. Some may be busier than others, but we make time for what’s important to us. If you can’t wake up an hour earlier to get a workout in, it’s because exercise isn’t a priority to you. Sometimes it’s going to require sacrifices - you may have to go to bed an hour earlier or get home a little later so you can stop at the gym. You may have to skip your daily Netflix binge or say no to happy hour on occasion.
You’re not always going to feel like getting up and doing a workout. I don’t think anyone always feels motivated to exercise. But you have to learn to push through that feeling and get it done anyway. I promise it gets easier once you find your rhythm.
If your reason for not working out is that you feel like you don’t know where to start, group fitness is perfect for you. Having an instructor and classmates to follow will be a huge help. And if you’re not feeling being in a gym setting just yet, try an at-home program.
Change your mindset.
This is sometimes easier said than done, but in order to push yourself to stick to your routine, you have to shift your mindset. Rather than thinking of exercise as something you have to do, think of it as something you get to do.
I don’t think of my workouts as punishment for something I ate or for how much I weigh. I genuinely enjoy doing them because I’m taking classes I enjoy. If I were to spend an hour running on a treadmill, I’d probably hate working out too.
Be grateful for your body. Be grateful for the ability to move, and think of your workouts as taking time for yourself to escape the craziness of life. If you dread something, don’t do it. Use trial and error to find what works for you and stick with it.
I went through a period of my life where I wasn’t active, and I’m so glad to have that behind me. I hope the tips in this post helped you reflect, even if you’re already working out consistently. These are some of the behaviors that helped me get back into a consistent routine, and I’ve been super happy with my progress!
If you end up trying any home workouts online, let me know what you think! I credit workout videos with helping me get back into a regular workout routine and keeping me active while I was constantly traveling for work.
Do you have any other tips for sticking to your workout routine? Do you prefer the gym or working out at home? What questions do you have for me about staying consistent? Let me know in the comments below!
Dominique Cheylise, 25 year-old engineer and group fitness instructor.