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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Before You Join a Gym, Do This

Dec 24, 2019 12:39PM
By Pam Moore

If you’re like most people, January finds you ready to start a new fitness routine. And if you’re like most people, by February, your motivation vanishes along with the cookies you swore you wouldn’t eat. Studies show only four percent of people who join a gym in January step foot in that gym in February. If you are one of the many who wanted this year to be different, here are three things you can do to lay a foundation for success.

1. Find your Why. You’d be surprised how easy it is to commit to your fitness journey when you know why you embarked on the mission in the first place. Ask yourself why you want to get in shape. Then ask again. And again. You’ll know when you’re done. Once you get over the awkwardness of having a conversation with yourself, you might be surprised how powerful your Why is. The conversation might go something like this:

Why do you want to get fit?

Because I want my jeans to fit better.

Why do you want your jeans to fit better?

So I can feel good about myself.

Why do you want to feel good about yourself?

Because I want to be confident.

Why do you want to be confident?

I want to be a role model for my daughters.

It may not be easy to keep peeling back the layers on your Why. But the cliché is true—nothing worthwhile is easy. Once you’re crystal clear about the source of your desire, it becomes a million times easier to say no to the snooze button or girls’ night, and say yes to your workout—and yourself—instead.

2. Have a measurable goal. I love fitness. As an Ironman triathlete, an avid runner, a running coach, and a spin instructor, it’s fair to say I am obsessed with fitness. But I can’t support a goal of simply “getting fit.” The same goes for “getting in shape” or “toning up.”

Fitness goals must be objective and measurable. In other words, you should be able to attach numbers and dates to them.

If you have a weight loss goal, make sure it includes a number of pounds and a date. “Lose weight” becomes a long-term goal of “Lose 20 pounds by April 1.” Once you have a long-term goal, add a few short-term goals to keep you motivated and to provide benchmarks of your progress.

Short-term goals might be:
• Lose two pounds by January 10.
• Lose ten pounds by June first.

3. Schedule your workouts. “A failure to plan is a plan to fail.” Benjamin Franklin knew this was true way before we dreamed of holding tiny computers with calendars, alarm clocks, and timers in the palms of our hands. As all successful people know, what gets on the calendar gets accomplished. Treat your workout time as you would any other appointment. Create an event on your Outlook or Google calendar, pencil it into your planner, or create an alert on your phone 20 minutes in advance. Do whatever works for you to carve out the time.

If you’re having trouble keeping your workout appointments, try a different approach. In her book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives (Crown, 2015), author and happiness expert Gretchen Rubin classifies most people as what she calls “obligers.” Obligers find it much easier to follow through on a commitment they’ve made to a friend than one they’ve made to themselves. While most of us would easily hit snooze and skip the 7 a.m. spin class, we’d never stand up the friend we promised to meet at the gym.

There’s no shame in relying on external accountability to help establish a new habit. You could start by:

• Finding a friend, neighbor, or co-worker to work out with.

• Attending classes at a group fitness studio with a strict cancellation policy. It’s hard to skip a workout you’ve already paid for.

• Join an exercise group,  fitness studio, running club, cycling club, masters swim team, or hiking group.

• Becoming a member of an online accountability group.

• Hiring a personal trainer.

Before you give up on fitness—or better yet, before you buy that fancy workout tracker and the pricey yoga pants—ask yourself the hard questions. Being honest with yourself about your fitness goals will keep you on your fitness path over the long haul. Because once you know your Why, your What, and your When, the question of How becomes a whole lot easier to answer. 

This article was originally published on NuGlow.


Pam Moore helps women push through fear to become their best selves. To get her free guide to crushing Impostor Syndrome, visit pam-moore.com.