Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Don't Lose Your Motivation!
In early January, the gym is jammed with all of us newbies who’ve made New Year’s resolutions to get back in shape after the cookie- and eggnog-laden holiday season. But by late February, that same gym is half-empty because far too many of us have become fitness dropouts—again. To keep our momentum going this time around, we decided to pick the brain of Tom Van Pelt, the general manager of IXL Health and Fitness, which has two health club locations in upstate New York. With 25 years of fitness industry experience under his belt, Van Pelt had plenty to say on the topic.
Fit Tip 1: Don’t come out of the gate like a sprinter.
“I’d rather see you here twice a week for the rest of your life than five times a week for two months,” Van Pelt said. “Pace yourself!” He added that working out “does take time and effort, and it isn’t easy.” In the beginning, you may feel tired, so take it slow to avoid burning out.
Fit Tip 2: Set realistic goals.
Goals are wonderful motivational tools, but don’t just aim for something huge and extremely hard to achieve (say, running a marathon if you can’t currently jog more than half a mile). By all means, dream big. But also build in some smaller interim goals like saying you’ll get on the treadmill twice a week, or that you’ll run in an upcoming 5K. Then keep reassessing where you’re at and where you want to be as you progress. “Otherwise, frustration and disappointment can set in,” Van Pelt said.
Fit Tip 3: Spice it up.
You know that old saying, “Variety is the spice of life,” right? Actually, Jack LaLanne made that up (well, maybe he didn’t). If you do the same exact workout every time you exercise, before long you’ll be bored. Combat fitness fatigue by joining a gym that offers a range of classes at times convenient to you or come up with other ways to mix things up on your own.
Fit Tip 4: There’s power in numbers.
Does your gym offer group training in which a pro will work with a small group of people for a set period of time (maybe six to eight weeks)? It’s a way to get feedback and support from a trainer at a lower cost than with one-on-one sessions. Plus, Van Pelt adds, there’s the added benefit of bonding with other members whom you may become gym buddies with.
Fit Tip 5: Revel in the knowledge that you’re changing your life.
“Years ago in the industry, it was all about ‘work out, live longer,’” Van Pelt said. “Medicine will keep you alive, but working out is going to help you live better.” If you remember that you’re doing something wonderful for your body and your mind, that you’ll look and feel better, that even getting active a few times a week will make you feel more energetic, engaged, happier and even improve your concentration and sleep, it might help you lace up your sneakers on those cold, wet, rainy mornings when you’d rather roll over and go back to bed.
And if you miss a workout or two, don’t beat yourself up, just take the long view and get back to the gym.