Taking a fitness class consistently is a great way to make sure to get in your daily workout: It’s at a set time every day, friends and/or your instructor lend some accountability, and you know exactly what to expect. All you have to do is show up!
So it’s a perfect fitness strategy to help you stick to a program — in theory. But busy schedules, unexpected appointments and maybe a few excuses can easily throw a wrench into your well-intentioned plans.
Here are a few ideas to help you stick with your fitness classes. One strategy doesn’t fit all, but try them on for size and see what works for you:
1. Write it down
Get a class schedule from your fitness club and map out what classes you can fit in for that week. Work around other appointments and commitments on your calendar, and write your workout times down in pen. It’s important, commit! Keep the schedule handy and, if something does come up, pick another class to replace the one you have to miss.
2. Become an early bird
Many group classes are offered early in the morning. If you’re an early bird, you can catch a class, take a shower and eat breakfast before the rest of the world wakes up! Getting it out of the way in the morning will ensure the day’s unexpected surprises don’t interfere with your fitness goals.
3. Make it a date
Treat your fitness class like a date with your husband, wife or partner. One study showed that couples who went to the gym together had a 6.3 percent dropout rate versus 43 percent for those who worked out separately.
4. Set up a rewards system
Being healthy and fit should be reward enough. But if we’re being honest, most of us would rather have some frozen yogurt or movie theater popcorn to celebrate a week of consistent workouts.
If rewarding yourself with a treat (make it reasonable) or a new outfit helps motivate you, go for it! Charles Duhigg, the author of “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” suggests creating a neurological “habit loop” — cue, routine, reward — that will connect your workout with the reward, ultimately training your brain to crave the workout itself!
5. Set goals you can reach
People who intentionally set goals are far more likely to achieve them than those who do not. Numerous studies have proven it. Set specific goals and be realistic — big commitments tend to be overwhelming and unsustainable, and they are more likely to make you give up altogether.
Start with small but firm baby steps. Commit to going to a fitness class two times a week for the first month, and then increase to three times a week for the second month. Before you know it, you’ve got a habit going, and you might even miss going to class if you take a day off!
Already a fitness class regular? Share your successful strategies in the comments section below!