Depending on who you ask, it takes between two weeks and 28 days to form a habit that feels like second nature. While that may not seem like a lot of time in theory, in the gym, it can feel like it lasts for a lifetime (speaking from personal experience here). To help you make your way through those 28 sweaty habit-making days ahead, below you’ll find tips from some of the industry’s top fitness instructors.
From treating your workouts like board meetings and always having an empowering beat at the ready to bringing a friend along for the ride, these tips will help you refocus your health and wellness intentions to make those habits stick. Keep on scrolling for more intel.
How to stick with your gym routine
1. Schedule early morning workouts: “I love to set a time to go early in the day that gives me enough time to get home, get ready, and go about my day with the rest of my plans,” says Rumble Boxing trainer Vicki Chimenti. “I work very well off of a schedule, so if I know there are brunch plans at noon, or I have to work all day, I set a time before that all happens, get it out of the way, and go on with my day.”
2. Workout with a friend: “Having an accountability partner is everything when it comes to sticking to your fitness routine,” explains Tone It Up founder Karena Dawn. “You’ll be more likely to exercise if you have a workout date set up with a girlfriend, and you can cheer each other on.”
3. Create a kickass playlist: “Music is motivating,” says Flywheel instructor Holly Rilinger point blank. “When I have a playlist of songs that excite me, I’m more likely to jump up and get moving. Set up that playlist, put on those earbuds, and get to work.”
4. Be kind to yourself: “Starting a workout routine shouldn’t leave you overly sore, uncomfortable, or in pain in any way,” says certified trainer and MINDBODY wellness manager Kate Ligler. “A small goal is just five-to-10 minutes of increased activity. If you have been fairly sedentary, walking the stairs for 10 minutes at lunch two-to-three times a week is a reasonable, actionable first step.”
5. Sign up for classes until you’ve established a routine: “Classes are much easier to stay scheduled to, since they’re scheduled for you,” Chimenti says. “If you sign up for a class: go! You just claimed a spot someone else could have taken up. It’s an opportunity to better yourself, accomplish new goals, and feel amazing for the rest of the day.”
6. Set calendar alerts: “Take this commitment seven days at a time and book your workouts like appointments in your calendar,” Ligler advises. “At the end of every week, pause, reflect, and reassess the next week based upon what was successful. Always build goals off successes, again, five-to-10 minutes at a time, or with small adjustments to intensity.” And remember: “You wouldn’t skip an important business meeting that you’ve scheduled for yourself, treat your health and well-being with the same level of respect,” she explains.
7. Fight through hard days: “There is so much fight within us that a lot of us have yet to find,” encourages Chimenti. “When you feel like you have nothing to give, that’s when you need to challenge yourself the most. Sure, everyone has off days, but those are the days that you need the most self love and care. You have to dig deep, but you will find how much you are capable of, even on your worst days.”
8. Pair your exercise with you favorite entertainment: “If I am really into a television show or podcast, I only indulge if I am on the bike, treadmill, elliptical, or bike,” says Bar Method master teacher Kate Grove.
9. Make your goals known: “Who supports you?” Ligler asks. “Who is going to ask if you got up to workout, even when every iota of your being wants to sleep in? Whether it’s a loved one, close friend, or coworker, lean in to your team who will support you in your new workout routine.”
10. Have faith in the domino effect:“When you work hard for yourself, challenge yourself, push yourself—you often fall in love with the feeling and it becomes an instant domino effect of positivity flowing throughout your life,” Chimenti explains. “Self care is so important in so many ways, but when it comes to working out, you feel good after the fact. That puts you in a good mood. When you’re in a good mood, everyone around you feeds off of that energy. Suddenly you’re more determined to do all these great things for yourself. Consistency is key, so trust the process. Show up, work hard, and watch yourself transform.”
11. Taking a day off is a good thing: “Everybody needs a rest day, so don’t feel bad about not working out every day,” Chimenti urges. “It’s healthy to give your body a recovery day.
12. Start small: “To start getting yourself into a routine, I always advise to schedule two days a week as your workout days,” explains Chimenti. “Once you get used to that, you start to see how much easier it is to fit it into your schedule than you thought. Then, you start finding more days to fit workouts in and it all becomes part of your routine that you suddenly can’t live without. Start small, then just keep growing.”
13. If it feels like work, take a different approach: “Working out should feel good and fulfilling,” Chimenti says. “It shouldn’t feel like work. It is an opportunity you get to take time out of your day or week to do something that makes you feel good. Find a workout that keeps you craving more. When you love what you do, it’s so much easier to do it.”
Feel ready to conquer the world (and your next workout)? Put your newfound motivation to the test with this trusty plank burner. And, if you need even more motivation, be sure to read how navy seals crush their fitness goals.
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