Yesterday I was meeting with a professional from a different part of the health, wellness, fitness industry who mentioned her gym membership(s) going to waste. Her story may be familiar to some of you, so I thought I would share it, and offer some of my personal tips to stave off similar circumstance.
She is currently a member at 2 different gyms, and goes to neither. She continues to claim she will go, and laments the fact that she has to. This is an all too common occurrence, but one that can be fixed.
Find a passion. Sounds simple but elusive, I know. In order to exercise, most of us need to be motivated to go. In order to be motivated, we have to 'want' to be doing that activity. If we already have an activity we are passionate about and enjoy, and we just aren't attending, that is different. That comes down to breaking the rut; re-establishing a routine.
Setting a consistent week to week schedule that is what I like to call - 'sacred time', (time that is uninterruptible by other nonsense or static) is crucial. For example: doctor appointments, legal, car registration, etc. We don't let other things get in the way of those, but we'll let someone's phone call interrupt our health and wellness time.
Sacred time is your time to take care of you. We do our best to establish this, and then leave it be; unhindered by the comings and goings of the rest of life. It takes a little time, and the right mindset to get into this, but once you do, you will quickly understand the importance of it.
Some people can let their schedules stay in flux and maintain discipline, but most of us need a solid day/time that we go do something, and we don't miss it unless it is an emergency. If someone asks us to do something during that time, we can simply respond with - "I have an appointment." They don't need to know that you are going to roller derby, laying waste to leather bags in kickboxing, choking people in Jiu-Jitsu, or running half-pipes with your skateboard friends. They simply hear "appointment" and know that you are busy.
Let's return to the 'passion' part of this article. This is so important, that I want to TYPE IT IN CAPS SO IT GETS YOUR ATTENTION. You can't turn over a new leaf by saying that you are going to start running a couple days/week when you despise running, and expect that you will miraculously have the willpower to go out and run. Especially when you leave work at 4:30p, and it is already dark, raining; snowing, freezing cold, and the nice warm house with a couch and TV are beckoning.
There's no rational reason any of us would choose that unless we were super excited about running. If running is your passion, then that should be your go to method of fitness during 'sacred time'. If rock climbing is more your calling, then strap in and tackle those rock walls.
There are so many things to do that involve movement - hiking, biking, swimming, roller-blading, street hockey, racket ball, tennis, orienteering, skiing, snow-shoeing, kite boarding, diving, etc., etc., etc. The most significant part of this - MOVE!
The human body is designed to move. The more studies come out on stagnation, the more we learn that sitting at a desk all day, or lounging around too much, equals bad news for our bodies, and our waistlines.
"The increased risk of death linked with sitting for eight hours a day was eliminated for people who were physically active for at least one hour a day."
You can see in this Norwegian study cited in this article on CBS News (and many other news sites) showing that prolonged sitting increases our propensity for all sorts of ailments, disease, and early deaths.
Find a Tai Chi class, Yoga, Pilates, stretching. Anything. But...and I can't stress this enough, enjoy what you are doing so you want to go back and keep doing it. If you hate it, resent it, or are even luke warm about it, then you won't want to go.
This leads to a final point - when we have our 'gym membership' and we don't go, or keep telling ourselves "next week", then we feel anxious, depressed, discouraged, or a failure. What good is that doing to our lives? Exercise helps combat these feelings, but if it is the cause of them, then we need to reassess.
I am partial to contact sports and high intensity training in short intervals. Some people prefer 90 to 120 minutes of running, or 30 minutes of Yoga. What you do is up to you, but find what you enjoy, and find a place to do it with good people around you that are on the same path. We become who we surround ourselves with.