When it comes to fitness, we’ve probably all heard the phrase “consistency is key.”
It all sounds so simple in theory: find something you like, spend time on it, and eventually it becomes a habit. But what happens when you break that consistency and all your hard work comes undone?
Losing your fitness mojo can happen for a number of reasons. From being overwhelmed and bored to life just getting in the way, breaking your fitness routine is incredibly easy to do—and a much harder problem to fix.
It happens to the best of us. There was a time when I would wake up every morning and go for a run at 6 am. And then the summer heat hits and the treadmill becomes boring and the 6am alarm becomes too easy to put off. It’s soon been three months and even though I feel lazier than ever, I just can’t seem to find the motivation that used to make me lace up my sneakers everywhere.
The longer we let this fitness slump go on, the harder it is to get back into the right space. But there are a few tips that can help you make a careful return. Here’s what the experts recommend:
Try group classes
“It’s hard to get back into a fitness routine when you haven’t done it for a while because you’ve gotten out of the habit,” says Cyrus Rustom, owner of Boxica gym in Dubai’s Studio City district. “Getting back into that habit can be difficult, but that’s where classes can really help.
“The best thing about a place like this is all you have to do is drive here. Once you walk through that door, everything else will take care of itself for you. If you go to a regular gym, you not only have to motivate yourself to go to the gym, but you have to motivate yourself to understand the workout and what you will be doing.
Not only do the classes feel less intimidating than going to the gym to do it alone, but you’re also likely to work a little harder when you’re busy in a group setting.
“I think a lot of people who are struggling to get back in shape should go to group classes, because to me, group classes are the most motivating way to get back in shape,” says Ryan Bishop, general manager of NRG Fitness. “For you to go to the gym to work out on your own and do your workouts is extremely difficult, so I would always advise anyone trying to get back into the gym to do group classes where you’re around people, you’re building everyone’s energy. For me, this is the best way. You don’t have to start with super intense classes.
“I think for 99 percent of people who train alone, they’re more likely to give up easily.” But when you have a coach or other people around you pushing you, you’re going to do that extra rep or that extra set or lift a little heavier.”
Make it non-negotiable
While routines and plans can change from week to week, there are certain things we can’t be flexible with. Meetings, for example. For most people, once a meeting is in the diary – whether it’s for work or with friends, those plans are solid and shouldn’t change. Rustom suggests treating fitness the same way and incorporating it into your schedule.
“You just have to fit it into your schedule three days a week,” he says. “You don’t need to train more than that to get started.
“Put it in your diary, just drive to the gym, walk in the door and then the rest is done for you. And you’ll always leave feeling 100 times better than when you walked in. Do this for a few weeks and eventually, after a month, you won’t need to motivate yourself to do it anymore. You will be so in love with this feeling and realize how important it is to you that nothing interferes with this “me time”.
Track how you feel
The impact that fitness can have on mental health is well documented, but it’s easy to forget about the mood-boosting effects when you’re in an exercise slump. However, by taking note of how you feel on the days you exercise, you’ll be able to track how much of an impact physical movement can have in all areas of your life.
“Particularly post-Covid, people have really noticed the impact that exercise can have on things like anxiety and have made health a priority more than ever,” says Bishop.
Writing down how you slept, how you felt that day, how productive you felt at work and what you ate will soon help you see the benefits that can help you motivate yourself on days when you’re having a hard time.
“You’ll sleep better, your mind will be calmer, your fitness and energy levels will increase, and your nutrition will improve,” says Rustom. “Once you get that feeling, it becomes completely undeniable to you.”
Exercise can also be a real stress reliever, especially something like boxing or running.
“There’s something special about breaking through something. You get that anger out and you leave feeling at peace,” says Rustom. “Our original tagline was ‘Find your inner hero’ but when we opened after lockdown people started coming in and saying ‘this is my therapy’ and it happened so much that we ended up changing the tagline. Our members said they needed it more for their mental health than their physical health.
Enter your steps
One of the easiest and most effective ways to increase your daily activity is to make sure you get a good number of steps each day. Experts estimate that we should be taking between 7,000 and 10,000 steps a day, and with the weather getting cooler, it’s the perfect time to get out in the evening.
Walking has also been shown to reduce anxiety and can act as a moment of ‘me time’ in a busy day.
One of the best motivators for walking is finding a podcast series you enjoy. By saving the episodes for your walks, you’ll be more inclined to go if you know you’ll get your podcast fix at the same time.
Here’s a list of true crime podcasts that have reignited cold cases. Or some top finance podcasts to raise money here.
Stir it up
One of the biggest contributing factors to exercise burnout is boredom, so trying something new and changing up your routine can help keep things interesting. Apps like Privilee and ClassPass are great for discovering new studios and classes, or gyms like NRG that offer a varied and changing schedule can help members switch things up.
“If you only offer one or two courses, people get really bored, so that variety is really important, especially in a place like Dubai where there’s a lot on offer,” says Bishop. “At the end of the day, learning has to be fun and enjoyable or you’ll quickly lose interest, so this choice keeps you engaged and excited.”
Updated: October 10, 2022, 11:21 am