Maybe you just signed the dotted line on the contract to your very first gym membership, or maybe you've been a dedicated member for a few years. Either way, there's a pretty good chance that the start of a new year probably has you thinking about your fitness goals and what you're hoping to accomplish over the course of the next twelve months.
Whether you're new to the gym scene, you're a veteran exerciser, or let's be honest— you're more of an “intermittent” member, the following eight resolutions can help you accomplish all of your fitness goals, no matter what you set out to achieve in the new year.
1. Define Your Goals
Don't commit to paying for a gym membership until you know exactly what you want to accomplish. Whether you're aiming to complete 20 push-ups in row or lose 5 pounds, write down your goal and then map out a plan detailing how you'll accomplish it, including when you hope to accomplish it by.
Having a clear idea of what you're working towards will help keep you accountable and motivated after the initial excitement of starting a new exercise routine fades.
2. Be Your Own Boss
Proactively thinking about when you'll have time to exercise and scheduling your workouts by writing them down on a calendar or in a planner will help make exercise seem more like an appointment and less like a decision that you could potentially bail on.
Think of it in terms of this fun fitness mantra that’s been floating (unattributed) around the online fitness community: “Think of your workouts as important meetings that you’ve scheduled with yourself. Bosses don’t cancel.”
Basically, be a boss.
3. Start Strength Training
Cardiovascular exercise has its fair share of benefits, but what many gym-goers (especially those just joining the fitness scene for the first time) may not know is that weight lifting has just as many advantages, and they don't only pertain to body builders looking to build lots of muscle.
If you don't already, working with weights 2-3 times per week is a great way to add variety to your routine, which will help keep your visits to the gym from becoming monotonous and boring (which could potentially lead you to break your commitment to exercise).
Strength training is also beneficial for those with weight loss goals because among other benefits, building muscle will increase your metabolism since muscle tissue requires more energy to maintain than fat.
4. Try A New Exercise
Again, focus on keeping your routine fun and interesting. Sometimes you'll fall in love with a new exercise right away, but for the most part, new workouts aren't fun right off the bat because they're more difficult than normal. When you try a new type of exercise, stick with it for a few weeks before you decide whether or not you actually enjoy it. You'll never know until you try, though. So take the plunge and sign up for that new class or try working with a trainer for a few weeks. Whatever it is you've been on the cusp about trying out, there's no better time than right now to give it a go.
5. Beyond The Basics
Many gyms offer programs that go beyond the typical monthly membership. They usually cost an additional fee, but if you have the means to do so, working with a trainer or joining a small group training program could be just what you need to break through a plateau or complete that last and final step needed to achieve your goal. Programs like these are especially valuable for novice exercisers who aren't sure where to start and want to learn how to exercise effectively.
6. Mind Your Manners
Everyone goes to the gym for the same reason: to workout. Don't forget that the gym is a shared public space. If every member shows a certain level of courtesy it makes for a more fun and friendlier atmosphere. It's every member's responsibility to follow basic gym etiquette so that everyone can have an enjoyable exercise experience.
7. Form Fit Friendships
Every gym is its own unique community. The best part about being a gym member is that you get to share a workout space with a group of like-minded peers. Of course, not everyone is working toward the same exact goal, but the one common thread is that every member is there to improve their fitness. Instead of keeping to yourself and going to the gym just for the sake of "getting your workouts done" embrace the community and engage with other members.
Join a group training program or try a few different group exercise classes where you can interact with other members. Planning workout “dates” with gym buddies is a great strategy for getting yourself motivated to exercise. Plus, a little bit of friendly competition can go a long way.
8. Extend An Invite
Take advantage of the free guest passes that many gyms offer to their regular members by inviting non-member friends to join you for a workout. Try swapping a weekly happy hour at the bar for a workout session with friends instead, or you could even invite co-workers and clients to exercise with you instead of the typical (and quite sedentary) wine and dine meeting scenario.