The March fitness slump is something Julie DiLeo knows all too well. Each January the personal trainer welcomes what she calls “a significant number” of new members to her women-only gym, Women’s Fitness of Boston. Everyone is amped up and ready to tackle their health and fitness goals they made as part of their New Year’s resolutions.
And yet, Julie says, “toward the end of March, some clients may find it difficult to maintain, and this is when we may see a decline in club usage.”
Setting fitness goals for the new year is awesome, but how do you avoid burnout? Thinking about how to realistically incorporate fitness into your daily life for the long haul is key versus being too ambitious at the start of the year and realizing that pace is too much. Julie has some advice for how to stick with it for good.
1. Find a Workout You Enjoy
It’s hard to motivate yourself to go back to the gym if you’re dreading everything before the steamy locker-room shower. That’s why it’s important to find a workout you enjoy doing. Hate running on the treadmill? Try a cardio class. Hate cardio? Check out yoga or strength training.
Julie recommends her gym’s group fitness classes, saying that clients love them because of how much variety they offer. You’ll probably have to try a few until you find your thing, but it will be worth it when you realize you actually look forward to going to the gym — or at least don’t feel like sighing deeply while pulling on your gym shoes.
2. Find a Friend
Whether it’s your work spouse or your actual spouse (or a parent, friend, sibling, what have you!), a workout buddy can help you be accountable for your new fitness regime, Julie says. You will help each other show up, work hard and push through when you might want to give up. It’s basically like having your very own cheerleader. Don’t disappoint them!
3. Set a Phone Reminder
“Set a reminder on your phone as if you have an appointment/meeting,” Julie suggests. This can give you the extra push to get into the gym (or start your workout at home!), especially if you’re the type of person who loves a highly regimented routine.
Still need a gym? Find one near you.
4. Keep Your Gym Bag Packed and Ready to Go
Maybe this means keeping it packed and stored next to your desk at work or even renting an overnight locker at the club and stashing your stuff there. If your stuff is already together, it’s harder to justify not going to your workout. Because are you really going to not work out AND waste time packing something you don’t use? Possibly, but hopefully not!
5. Take Advantage of the Latest Health Gadgets
You may not feel like you’re making progress sometimes, and that can make you want to give up on your health and fitness goals. But when you use wearable technology to track your workout, you know exactly how hard you’re working.
Julie personally loves working out with Myzone heart-rate monitors, which she offers at her club. The Myzones not only monitor heart rate, but also calories burned and time spent exercising. Those variables are then converted into Myzone Effort Points (MEPs). The addition of points makes working out feel more like a game, especially when the points are shown on display screens at the gym, like they are at Women’s Fitness of Boston. This makes it extra easy to keep track of your progress.
Find deals on fitness technology.
6. Recognize (and Avoid) the Plateau
“Clients starting on a fitness journey for the very first time may see results very quickly and suddenly the ‘gains’ may seem to taper off,” Julie says. “Our bodies have the capacity to adapt and no longer will respond to the same workouts overtime. And you may not continue to see the same benefits.”
That’s known as the workout plateau, and it is responsible for lots of people giving up on their fitness goals. However, it can be avoided.
“Switch the style of your fitness routine every 8–12 weeks,” Julie advises. To do so effectively, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of fitness.
According to Julie, the fundamentals of fitness say that in order to keep improving, you have to work harder as your body adapts. That means lifting heavier weights, for instance, or doing more reps with the weights you’ve been using.
Basically, you should keep challenging your body to do harder things. Don’t keep working out the same way as when you started at the gym.
7. Don’t Be Scared of the Weights
Particularly for women, Julie says that health and fitness goals should include some form of weightlifting to tone muscles and keep burning calories after a workout ends. She recommends classes like her gym’s Power Flex 45/30 — a low-impact but high-intensity workout using things like dumbbells and the client’s own body weight to build muscle.
Check out exercise and fitness gear to get started at home.
8. Meet With a Personal Trainer at Least Once
Julie says that this is especially key for beginners. “At Women’s Fitness of Boston, we recommend meeting with a personal trainer for a fitness assessment to help put together a specific plan for you.” That way, you have some direction when you start working out on your own.
Julie thinks face time with a trainer is so important that she includes a free 30-minute personal-training session with her gym’s 30-day trial.
Find personal trainers near you.
9. Prioritize Your Health and Yourself
“As women, we tend to take care of everyone around us and put ourselves very last on the list,” Julie says. “We take care of our children, our spouses, our parents even. Give yourself permission to take care of you when planning your New Year’s fitness goals. Realize that it is all right to do so.”
This article was originally written by Colleen Loggins Loster and has been modified from its original version.