New Year’s Revolution

They’re coming and it won’t be pleasant. Like the zombie apocalypse, they will invade our gyms and fitness classes and unwittingly wreck havoc in our lives. Sit tight people, it won’t last long. By the end of the month, the masses will recede, and things will get back to normal. Who I am writing about, you may ask? The New  Year’s Resolutionaries!

Each year, swarms of people join gyms January 1st, and resolve that THIS is the year they will get in shape. They start out with all good intentions, and then somehow burn out and fade away. Health Clubs typically see a big boost in membership this time of year, and lock people into contracts so that they get paid whether or not their members succeed in becoming the gym rats they aspire to be.

If you are one of the millions of people starting the year off with the promise of fitness, here are a few tips for making the commitment stick, while avoiding pissing off those who were there first:

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Start slowly

If you over do it, you will be sore, exhausted and discouraged. Instead of vowing to workout everyday, commit to hitting the gym 2 or 3 times a week to start.

Set realistic expectations

Going from sedentary to running 5 miles straight isn’t realistic. Neither is lifting super heavy weights, or doing multiple fitness classes in a row. Start with a run/walk combination and increase the running time each week until you can get through a mile without stopping. If you aren’t experienced with strength training, invest in a few sessions with personal trainer who can teach you proper form and help design a program for you. Bad form + too heavy weights=injury.

Make a gym date with yourself and keep it

Put your workout into your agenda, and take it as seriously as you would if it were a doctor’s appointment, a business meeting or a date with someone you really want to see. If you really can’t make it, reschedule it right away.

If you reserve a spot in a popular class, show up, and don’t leave in the middle.

Some popular classes ( read: indoor cycling ) are difficult to get into. Us regulars become enraged when they are turned away from a full class, only to see you walk out 15 minutes later because it’s hard. It’s supposed to be hard. Do what you can, but stick with it! Take a short breather, pull back on the intensity but try to tough it out if you can. Conversely, don’t sign up for the toughest class in the gym right away. Find something more in line with your fitness level, and build up from there.

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Let the instructor know you’re a newbie:

They will help you get set up, watch your form and cut you some slack on your intensity. Set yourself up for success by letting them know you’re a beginner.

Be conscious of your food intake:

For the most part, weight is based on calories in, and calories out. Just because you took a 30 minute stroll on the treadmill, it doesn’t mean you can pig out afterwards. It takes 3500 calories to make a pound. If you do the math, burning 150 calories at the gym does not mean you can indulge in a 350 calorie congratulatory treat and lose weight. You also need food to fuel your workout. Starving yourself will not result in having the energy to complete a serious workout. Ask my friend who took 3 fitness classes in a row without eating, and passed out in the shower. Facing the paramedics and health club staff buck naked was not fun.

Keeping a food and activity journal will help you determine your calorie intake and expenditure. I recommend an free app called Lose It! to keep you honest, and on track to meet your goals.

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Find something you love to do, and stick with it.

If you hate running, you most likely will not do it enough to make a difference. If you love to dance, try a hip-hop or Zumba class. If you like a high intensity workout, and are motivated by a group setting, try indoor cycling or a boot camp style class. If you like being outside, go walking, hiking or skiing. If you find something you enjoy, staying with it will be much easier.

Don’t create gridlock.

Most people go to the gym to work hard. If you are going to just stand around and chat, please step to the side and get out of the way. This concept applies to walking down the street in New York City as well, but that is a whole other post! Don’t camp out on a bench or piece of equipment while you text, fix your ponytail or sip colorful water. Allow others to “work in” and keep moving.

Clean up after yourself:

Wipe your sweat off the equipment, put your weights away, and please don’t leave your towels, dirty tissues or makeup smeared Q-tips laying around. It’s disrespectful, unsanitary and downright gross. Shout out to those who leave their used disposable razors in the shower. Even in the poshest gyms, with ample cleaning staff, it’s just downright unacceptable.

It’s not magic.

Fitness and healthy eating isn’t a fad, or a quick fix. It takes hard work, diligence and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. You probably didn’t gain weight, or lose muscle tone in a week, and you won’t lose weight and gain significant strength in that period of time either.You need to do the work to get the results. Give it time.

If you fall off the wagon, get back on fast.

Nobody is perfect, and if you indulge when you know you shouldn’t, enjoy it, and get back to healthy eating right away. If you miss a few workouts, recommit and get moving again. Don’t take a defeatist attitude and decide since you already blew it, it’s over. You are only one meal, and one workout away from being back on track.

See you tomorrow at the gym?

photos: Glasshouse Images

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