Set rewards and forfeits
The carrot and the stick can work in the gym, too – although some research suggests the threat of the stick is more powerful than the promise of the carrot. Martin Sharp, founder of SHARP fit, set himself the goal of getting in shape for a photoshoot. If he didn’t get ready in time, he promised he would give his canoe to his ex-wife. You needn’t bring your spouse into it, or choose such an expensive forfeit, but Sharp thinks the threat of failure works.
“Decide how you will celebrate when you complete a goal, and what forfeit will you perform should you not meet it,” says Sharp. “Don’t knock the power of accountability.”
Of course, any forfeit shouldn’t be dangerous to yourself or others and while accountability is indeed good, it’s good to note that optimism has been noted as a powerful factor in exercise, too.
Have a wet weather plan
You know what happens: you wake up, it’s raining, you decide to workout later and ‘later’ becomes tomorrow. “Opening the curtains to a wet, dark and cold day makes it very easy to put your workout off,” says Carrie Baxter, coach at fitness app, WithU.
“Having an indoor backup plan in mind will help you stay in the flow of your training plan,” says Baxter. If you’re a runner, it might be time to get out the bands and do some strengthening exercises. If you’re a weight lifter, think about maintenance stretches or accessory lifts you can do with lighter weights at home.
If you’re struggling, for inspiration, why not try our next tip…
Don’t want to leave the house? Don’t have anyone to train with? There’s a simple solution. “Virtual fitness classes offer interactive workouts from the comfort of your home,” says Antoni.
Whether it’s pilates or press-ups, your local gym likely has a Zoom session, while there are hours of workouts free on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. Even the likes of Peloton are getting in on the act, offering live classes or pre-recorded options at home for cycling, yoga, weights and more. In other words, whatever you’re into, there’s a way to do it at home.
It works, too: in one study looking at at-home fitness during COVID-19, researchers found “These smart applications have made exercise and physical activity accessible and convenient to adopt. Therefore, these smart applications have been beneficial in promoting and improving the health and fitness of people.”
“To make a habit stick, you need to understand the purpose behind doing it,” says Scott Thompson, athletics director at F45 Training. “Figure out your ‘why’ and write it down – remind yourself how becoming more physically active can help other aspects of your life as well. When you begin training, ask questions to gain clarity around what exactly it is that you will be working through during a training session. This educational component or sense of learning to gain clarity creates a sense of perceived control, which drives confidence, empowerment, and autonomy.
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