Feature: How to find your gym motivation this New Year
PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 January 2018
Everyone at the Herts Ad office is struggling to conceal their surprise that I am STILL managing to haul myself to the gym.
I was naive early on in this challenge, which is to sample the services on offer at St Albans’ Nuffield Health, Fitness and Wellbeing Gym for three months in order to improve my general fitness.
“What exactly am I meant to do when I get there?” I asked no-one in particular at the office. “Exercise?” offered a sarcastic colleague.
As we coast into 2018 I’m sure many people are thinking the same, setting themselves semi-achievable New Year’s resolutions to Be Fitter (with capitals) but not sure how to begin. And how many people buy a membership now, only to let it gather dust after January?
As a recap, results from my 12-point overall health MOT were mixed - BMI great, sleep patterns consistent, family health fine, but my aerobic fitness is terrible, off the scale.
However, Personal training sessions with the very patient and lovely Rebecca Masters meant I could hit the ground running (or lifting, as the case may be).
I also decided to book onto some classes. There are about 30 on offer, with various instructors and times throughout the week.
Diving in first with a dance session lead by Naomi Czuba, it was friendly and everyone wished a regular happy birthday. I would soon learn the community feel is common across the timetable.
Fast forward a few weeks, and I am at Total Abs feeling like I might be sick, at Spin worried I will collapse, or at Pilates feeling zen and stretched.
An early morning Circuits class was particularly difficult, but I was certainly thoroughly worked - even if I did develop a mild delusional paranoia that the cheerful instructor was extending the amount of time at each station. Ten seconds, great! Wait, it’s been longer than ten seconds now, surely. Five seconds, the longest five seconds of my entire life. To clarify, I’m sure she wasn’t in reality - it was the workout talking.
All the instructors were very receptive to the abilities of their classes, adjusting levels accordingly and keen to make sure they accommodate everyone.
Once I had built my confidence by just turning up, I decided (a whole month in) to take the plunge and go to the gym by myself. Get on a machine, work out. Something like that.
First time I went on the stair machine, climbed 110 flights, and went home. Second time I pretended no-one else was around and did some squats too. Next time I switched it up again. The only way is up, right?
Chewing a protein bar in my car after a session I contemplate my newfound gym-bunny status. Here are some tips that may help anyone struggling to find their momentum, from one newbie to another:
Book classes. You feel far more guilty cancelling a class than cancelling an arbitrary time slot you’ve set yourself. It cannot be moved or changed, so be there or be square. It is also a structured work-out for those of us with absolutely no idea where to start.
Be reasonable. Don’t tell yourself you will go to the gym at an inconvenient time because it will not happen. If you don’t like mornings, don’t book a class at 6.30am. You won’t enjoy the exercise and it’s so tempting to cancel something logistically difficult.
Try new things. I hated Pilates at school but I really enjoyed the class as an adult. Every instructor teaches differently, so find one you enjoy. It will be easier to motivate yourself if it isn’t a chore.
Don’t beat yourself up. If you have to rearrange plans and can’t fit in the gym one day, as planned, that’s okay. One session a week is admittedly not as good as three, but far better than none. Don’t lose focus and just pick back up next time.
Get some guidance. Find an experienced gym-goer and plough them for personalised tips. It won’t feel so much like stumbling around in the dark that way. Or, if money permits, get a personal trainer for even just one session to steer you in the right direction.
Have some patience. Progression at the gym felt comparatively speedy. But for most people, change may feel slow. It will not happen overnight. Habits form after 21 days, apparently, and maybe it will longer to see dramatic results. Give everything time.
Switch it up. First time going to the gym is a novelty. However, unless you’re a stickler for routine, the tenth workout of the same old moves will get dull, fast. There are lots of ways to exercise the same muscles, so try different things and different machines. Variety is the spice of life.
To get you motivated for the New Year, we’re offering all of our readers a free seven day trial at Nuffield, providing the perfect chance to explore whether a gym is for you without committing to a membership. Click here for information.