If you find yourself dropping the ball on your newfound fitness routine come February, you’re far from alone. To help you stay on track, the key might be to question why, instead of your beating yourself up for bailing in the first place.
Millions of Australians use the new year to evaluate their relationship with fitness and set new and ambitious resolutions to improve their health and wellbeing. But alarmingly, most have already ditched their annual fitness resolutions by ‘Quitters Day’ – the second Friday in January – while the remainder will need to overcome many motivational hurdles to stay committed during the coming months.
New research from global fitness lifestyle brand Peloton, has found that during the past five years, more than half of the Australians (54 per cent) who had started the new year by committing to a new fitness or exercise regime, gave up within three months or less of starting.
Australians also seem to have a taste for variety but exhibit ‘commitment issues’ in their fitness relationships. The study showed that 35 per cent of those surveyed had at least one ‘fitness partner’ in 2023, ranging from workout plans and personal training to gym memberships and fitness apps. However, these relationships often proved short-lived, with 26 per cent admitting their average ‘fitness relationship’ lasted less than a month.
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If you want to stay committed to your fitness program or rekindle the movement spark after falling foul to Quitter’s Day, follow these expert-backed tips to emerge victorious in the long run, no matter how tough the going may get.
Break up with big goals and settle for helpful intentions
Psychologist Jacqui Manning recommends shifting from fitness goal setting towards a more holistic approach – setting intentions.
“Unlike rigid goals that often lead to frustration and abandonment, intentions cultivate a general desired state of being,” says Manning.
She adds that, unlike specific and often unrealistic workout goals, intentions provide the flexibility to adapt and evolve as circumstances change. An example of setting an intention instead of a goal would be to set the intention of improving your health versus setting the goal of losing 5kgs.
Get cosy with achievable daily habits
Manning says that despite Australians’ passion for sport and healthy lifestyle, many face challenges in upholding these values due to lack of time, motivation, injury or scheduling conflicts.
“To overcome these hurdles and fulfil personal commitments, it’s important to identify daily habits that contribute to achieving your intentions, and reinforce positive progress through repetition and rewards,” says Manning.
“While individuals often feel the need to manage everything independently, utilising technology and online fitness platforms can help reduce many of the mental and physical barriers to exercise, by offering greater choice and convenience through fitness programs that provide real-time progress tracking, and a welcome boost of dopamine.”
Share the fitness love with others
The research also revealed Australians’ preference for communal commitment, with more than two-thirds (69 per cent) being more likely to uphold or commit to plans made with a friend or partner rather than individually. Manning says there are many benefits from exercising with friends or loved ones including it being more fun and challenging.
“A friend can bring out your competitive side and spur you on. When you’re ready to give up, the sight of your friend might be just the incentive you need to keep going,” says Manning.
Peloton instructor Ben Alldis agrees with Manning and says one of the keys to finding a lasting relationship with fitness is finding a supportive community or workout partner.
“Find a workout partner or community to help motivate and inspire you on the days where you don’t feel like working out,” encourages Alldis. “Our community is a great example of this, where people from around the world work out alongside each other and help one another raise the bar in their lives. We’ve also seen amazing friends, relationships and even marriages formed within our community, so you never know who you may meet along the way.”
Spice it up with some variety
Alldis also recommends mixing up your training, especially in the early stages of your exercise program.
“Variety is important to creating an effective exercise program, helping to prevent boredom and keep you motivated to exercise,” says Alldis.
But variety also has important physiological benefits. Your body can adapt to a repetitive exercise program in just six to eight weeks. This means that becoming stagnant in your routine can soon lead to no additional gains, and you may even experience a drop in results.
“Don’t be afraid to mix up your training. Start by doing exercises that feel good, then once you get your mojo back, add goal-specific workouts to help maintain progress.”