Finding ways to stick to your fitness routine this September

Photo by Manraj Rai

I have never intentionally stuck with a fitness plan. Growing up I played a lot of sports but outside of organized exercise I can barely make it through two weeks of my own workouts.

I’ve always found the feeling of being a newbie at the gym or on a field kept me from feeling good about being active.

Over the summer I decided to tackle my history of fickle fitness while I had the time; I knew staying fit will get a lot harder when September hits.

I tried to use this summer as an orientation to what works for me and focused on building my confidence by give myself lots of time and forgiveness for not staying disciplined.

I’ve tried lots of different exercises in variety of settings in the hopes of coming back to school with a routine that I like and will be able to stick with.

The first thing I learned was that I need to feel some small nugget of goodness and immediate gratification if I’m going to stick with a workout. Otherwise, after a week and a half I’m going to look down and think ‘this sucks and it’s not even working.’

I asked Nicole Collins, a personal trainer at the Laurier Athletic Centre, if she had some good techniques for sticking to a workout plan.

“It is firstly most important to establish a clear and specific goal. Personally, I like to set S.M.A.R.T goals with my clients before we start any kind of workout program together,” she said.

S.M.A.R.T goals being Specific, Measurable, Action-able, Relevant and Time-bound.

“I also think that it is important to set not only physical goals, (what you want to look like on the outside), but to also set health and wellness goals. For example, “I want to be stronger,” instead of ‘I want to look like him/her,’” Collins said.

I decided my first step to being more healthy was to improve my heart rate. Before I started, my resting heart rate was 68 (check your heart rate when you wake up). After going for a jog a four times a week. I saw my resting heart rate quickly begin to improve which meant my heart was working more efficiently and that gave me a big boost of confidence.

I began to see myself getting in the habit of running to stay in shape and wanted to gradually do more. In an email Nicole said this was really important:

“In addition, setting short-term goals as well as long-term goals will help. Ask yourself, ‘Will I be able to maintain this fitness program for a year.’ That is how you know if it is a sustainable program,” she said in an email.

Maybe running isn’t going to give you that taste of goodness like it does for me. A good alternative could be stretching.

I love the feeling after a long stretch session where I walk home and feel floppy like a boiled noodle. I would start with some dynamic (moving) stretches to warm up my to get my heart rate up and my muscles limber.

When I started feeling a bit red in the face I moved into either static stretches or yoga. Even with 15 minutes of stretching per day I started to feel better balance, flexibility and strength. If you’re doing it right, you won’t feel achey and stiff afterwards and hopefully that will motivate you to do more again the next day.

Nicole also suggested to get social with your fitness. “Whether it’s working out with a close friend or finding a class, they will hold you accountable to sticking with your workout plan.

We offer multiple small group training programs at the athletic complex. Some of these programs are Barbelles, Barbell, Train for Greatness, I Move my Mood, Intramurals, Group ex, Dance etc.”

If you break it all down, staying healthy is about creating new patterns and to do that we need to feel the rewards of doing good things for our bodies.

“Consistency is key, and it may take time to find what works for you. Be patient,” Collins said.

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