15 tricks for getting to the gym (no matter what)

History tells us that a significant number of New Year’s resolution gym-goers will stop showing up by the second week of February. It’s tough for cold temperatures to trump a warm bed and an extra hour of sleep or to find time in our crammed agendas. With the most common reasons for skipping a workout in mind, we asked Shannon Perkins, exercise specialist, Parkview Health and Fitness Center, to give us some tips for staying on track with our exercise goals this winter (and beyond).

The setback: Lack of time
The solution: Utilize active transportation (bike or walk to work) and make active lifestyle choices (take the stairs, park far away from the door), or incorporate several smaller bouts of exercise (10 minutes at a time) into your day. This can be as effective as one longer workout. You can also plan for success by setting out clothes and making a smoothie the night before.

The setback: Lack of motivation
The solution: Find activities that are enjoyable. Write down the reasons you wanted to get started in the first place and put the list in a spot you see every day (e.g. bathroom mirror, refrigerator, etc.).

The setback: Lack of energy
The solution: Set yourself up to succeed. Pick a time that consistently works for you and schedule it as gym time and then keep the appointment. For example, if 5 o’clock is free, bring your things and drive straight to the gym after work, no detours.  Exercising can contribute to a 20 percent increase in energy. A clean, balanced diet will help with your get-up-and-go as well.

The setback: Lack of knowledge about exercise
The solution: Find a group exercise class or fitness community for support, invest in a personal trainer, or join a gym that offers guidance, such as the Parkview Health and Fitness Center.

The setback: Dislike sweating/vigorous exercise
The solution: Exercise for longer durations at a lower intensity, which might mean less perspiration but still provides health benefits. Slowly build your way up.

The setback: Physical barriers such as obesity, injury or disease
The solution: Try gradual exercise with SMART goals.  S – Specific, M – Measurable, A – Attainable, R – Realistic, T- Timed. And always consult your primary care physician to approve of a new exercise regime.

The setback: Lack of social support
The solution: Identify activities you can do with family/friends to get them involved in your positive goals. You can also seek additional support from social fitness communities sourced locally or online.

The setback: Biological barriers like puberty, pregnancy or aging
The solution: Consult with your physician, then find a certified personal trainer to discuss a tailored and safe workout plan. They can typically find something for everyone.

The setback: Poor body image
The solution: Focus on the health and psychological benefits of exercise. Make goals and rewards that are not related to weight loss, such as finishing a 5k, eating healthy for one week, etc.

The setback: An overwhelming goal
The solution: Set multiple short term goals that lead toward that one important long term goal.

The setback: Bad past experience
The solution: Acknowledge the past experience, review what might have gone wrong and decide what can be done differently to deliver a different result.

The setback: Fear of injury
The solution: The key here is slow progression and good form. Discuss a workout plan with your doctor beforehand to highlight limitations.

The setback: Personal obligations elsewhere
The solution: It is never selfish to take time for yourself. Don’t be afraid to have a serious discussion with family and close friends to help them understand your goals and needs. Utilize their social support. A lot of gyms also have family-friendly activities or child care so you can bring them with you!

The setback: Lack of access to programs or facilities and/or cost
The solution: Active transportation, when possible, is a great way to incorporate movement into your day. You can also make the outdoors your gymnasium, by walking, hiking, biking, skating, skiing and playing ball as conditions allow. When all else fails, find an adequate space in your home, get a few pieces of equipment (these don’t have to be expensive) and find a fun workout online.

The setback: Bad weather
The solution: Always have a contingency plan for your workouts, such as an in-home option. If you are going out, wear the appropriate apparel and be safe!


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