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How to Make Going to the Gym a Habit
To often do people fall out of the habit of going to the gym. We’ve all heard the saying, “Habits take 3 weeks to develop.” However, I argue habits start on day one. After all, you went to the gym on day 1 and kept going, right? Then maybe you went on vacation, had a work trip, got busy, or whatever the reason was and you stopped going. So did the habit of saying “tomorrow,” start on day 1 or day 21? When you said, “Today,” and were going to the gym consistently, did that habit start on day 1 or day 21? You see, I argue that habits can start and end just as easily as day 1.
So how do you start developing the right habits? Well, follow this easy guide and you’ll see it’s easy.
Step 1: Go to the gym or wherever you workout and go through the motion. Whether that’s checking in at the front desk and going to the locker room to wash your hands and then going home, or popping in that workout DVD, starting it up and letting it run for a couple minutes. Odds are, if you’re going to the gym, you’re gonna workout. However, I understand life might take over and deadlines don’t magically go away – but make this routine habit. If it’s your first week and you don’t feel like working out, then don’t. Literally, go to the gym, walk in and say hi then leave. Why, because you’re developing the habit of making the gym a place you visit regularly.
Step 2: At some point you’re gonna have to start working out, there’s no way around that. So usually I set this as a week 2 goal for people new to exercise. Week 2 your goal is to get to the gym 3 times and on one of those days, you have to workout. Then in week 3, you have to workout 2 times. Lastly, week 4 you have to workout each session (so if your goal is 4 workouts a week, you workout all 4 times).
Step 3: Life has taken over and you’re having to put in work hours from home too. It doesn’t take long to stop by the gym on your way home. So stick with the plan in Step 1, stay in the habit of driving to the gym and going through the motions – even if the result is you having to go home to get work done. This helps reinforce the fact the gym is a place you go!
Step 4: You haven’t been sleeping from all of those long hours at work and the stress is just too high. Again, stick to the habit of going. I know it sounds like overkill, but remember old habits can end just as fast as new habits begin. If you’re at least going to the gym or going through those motions, it’s likely the behavior will continue into the future!
Step 5: You have to go on a trip. Most people use work trips and vacation as an excuse to let the wheels of consistency come off, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Most places you vacation or travel to for work has a gym or some space you can do some sort of exercise. After all, you have your body and all you need is space – there are a lot of bodyweight movements you can do to create an exercise. Even better, pack some bands, a jump rope, and/or a suspension trainer and you’ve got yourself a mobile gym. If you can workout at the same time you usually do then do it. If not, just do it anytime it fits in.
Step 6: You didn’t follow the above steps and you’ve fallen off the wagon. Don’t beat yourself up with guilt. If it’s usually your workout day and you didn’t workout and you went right home, pick yourself up and dust yourself off. The best thing about sunrises are the fact it symbolizes a new beginning – start with steps 1 or 2 and make it a habit again.