My wife and I have been planning on joining the local gym for several months, but we’ve been on the road so much that it hasn’t been practical. Now that our travel schedule is slowing down we went ahead and filled out all the paperwork and signed up last week.
When we turned everything in we asked about the schedule and what was the busiest times of day. The receptionist told us, “oh January is really busy with New Years resolutioners, but they will all be gone by February.”
One of the biggest mistakes people make with resolutions is shooting too high. Some people think, “if I shoot for 100 maybe I’ll hit 51 which is better than if I shoot for 50.” In reality it doesn’t work that way. If you shoot for 100 with no expectation of continually hitting the mark, you are more likely to give up than if you shoot for 50 and are able to meet your goal regularly.
If you are busy and aren’t in the habit of exercising, setting a goal of exercising every day is probably going to be discouraging. Start with something more attainable. Like walking 2 miles each week, or doing 10 pushups each morning, or going to the gym at least twice a week.
The value of setting a goal that you can achieve is much greater than trying to stretch yourself at the same time you are developing a habit. The danger of giving up is much greater if you don’t start with something you know you can achieve.
I don’t think we should do away with the whole idea of resolutions, but I do think setting smaller year long goals can lead to bigger gains.
Brian Feener says
I’ve got a decent amount of experience with setting goals at the gym.
1. Be THAT guy with a notebook. Write down your mileage, or how many reps and how heavy the weight, or how many sit-ups… the important thing is that you’re tracking yourself. I like a spiral-bound notebook, if only because I can slip a pen in the spiral.
2. It’s food too. Get in a routine with your diet. If you’re looking to lose weight, it’s gotta be a one-two punch. Rewards are important too, but they shouldn’t be the basis for your diet.
3. Learn good form and use good form. Watch online video from Men’s Health or Men’s Fitness, or someplace with a good reputation (that is, if you can’t afford a personal trainer, which is ultimately better than any video you’ll ever find). You will not see results with bad form, but you will see injury.
4. 30 minutes- – You BEGIN to lose weight and see a significant metabolic increase after the 30 minute mark of an elevated heart rate. If you go at a slow and steady pace, you will see more results than by using quick bursts.
(I really got off track on how to achieve goals, didn’t I…)
5. Set reasonable expectations for yourself. Like the Peyton Manning commercial when he says, “let’s be realistic about getting those six-pack abs”… if you’ve been out of shape for the past 10 years, a month of the gym isn’t going to solve every problem. Set a couple short and long term goals. MAKE SURE THEY ARE MEASURABLE.
6. Tell yourself that you are NOT that February-quitter. Confidence and believe in yourself is key here. You can achieve, you can achieve, you can achieve.
You know, what works for me is to set a SLIGHTLY unreasonable goal, but decide in advance I’m not going to feel bad about not quite reaching it. That’s because somehow when I’m reaching my goals I feel like I’m not doing enough and end up giving up. But with the somewhat unreasonable goal, I end up coming close to hitting it and getting the benefits of reaching the lower goal but the feeling of having come that close to a spectacular goal.
I think different approaches work for different people, but I do agree that setting a goal of 100 and hoping to reach 51 is too big a stretch – most people’s minds just won’t know what to do with the discrepancy, and they’ll end up settling for 25 or 15 or 0.
Mark Shead says
@Brian – Our trick for motivation was to pay for the entire year up front. :)
@BohRev – Interesting take on goal setting. I think for the majority of people it is better to actually hit their goals. If you are doing 95% it is easy to let that down to 92% and so on. Also the act of achieving a goal helps put you in the mind set to achieve the next one. If you are setting goals that you have no intention of reaching it seems like it would be harder to stay motivated….at least for me.
Brian F. says
Paying for the year up front may be a short term solution. My gym takes automatic deductions from a checking account and every month I have a reminder that I’m a member.
I think that the one time payment makes the whole payment issue a non-issue come February. It becomes “sunk-cost.”
Mark Shead says
@Brian – I suppose it depends on the person. For my family it is a big motivator to use it so we don’t throw money away.
Andrew Flusche says
I’ve really been thinking about joining a gym as well. But it’s so expensive these days. I hate that it’s so cheap to be fat & lazy, but pricey to be healthy.
Best wishes to you guys, and thanks for the link!
Mark Shead says
In rural parts of the country gym costs are a little lower. We paid for 4 people (my wife, myself and my parents) and it came to about $10 per person per month.
Brian Feener says
@Andrew – Unlike restaurants (like Outback, Red Lobster), chain gyms such as Gold’s, World Gym, etc. tend to cost more. Search out a local gym – not only will the cost be lower, but the crowds will tend to thin out quicker. For the record, small does NOT mean small-time. My gym is up-scale with optional laundry service, full-time personal trainers, massage, licensed physical therapists, and more – – AND costs $15/mo. less than the chain one block away.
Paying for a full year at a time doesn’t work for most people. Most people will figure the money is blown after the first month anyway. My family and I bought a full year membership once, paid in full. No one was going by month #2, and the money was gone. We just kept making excuses for not going, and since the money was already spent with no hope of recovery, it didn’t matter any more.