Buddy Up? And Other Tips To Stay Motivated
Week after week, year after year, how do you sustain a fitness lifestyle? It's not easy, but maintaining motivation and consistency is easier than falling off the fitness wagon and having to work extra hard to get back on.
Jesse Deleon, a personal trainer at a 24 Hour Fitness Super Sports club in Sugarland, Texas, recommends an exercise buddy as one way to stay motivated. "It helps to have a partner for accountability. It's easier to push it, easier to get yourself to the gym. The hardest thing is getting to the club."
Beyond just getting to the club, Deleon says, an exercise buddy works especially well for individuals who lift free weights. "Those last reps are when it's important to have a spotter, when you are pushed to exhaustion."
How do you find an exercise buddy? Just look around. Maybe your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, son or daughter, co-worker or neighbor would like to work out with you. Or perhaps that friend of yours who constantly complains about the need to start exercising again. Many people meet like-minded friends in group exercise classes and then encourage each other to attend regularly.
"Exercise partners are not just for the gym," says Deleon. "It also works to pair up for cycling, running or walking." Time passes much more quickly exercising together than going it solo. Sometimes one buddy is more motivated and other times, when that person has a bad week, they can ask the other for a pep talk.
You can't always rely on others, though. So employ several methods of motivation. One way to encourage yourself is by monitoring your progress with an exercise or nutrition journal. You can write information in a spiral notebook or make your own Excel spreadsheet. There are even free online fitness tracking tools to track progress for food consumption, exercise, weight loss or fitness goals.
24 Hour Fitness offers free measurements and body fat percentage calculation for its members every three to four weeks. This is another way to monitor your progress or, once you've achieved your goals, stay on track.
Enlist a Trainer
The American Council on Exercise recommends hiring a personal trainer for, among other things, motivation and consistency in your workout schedule.
Is personal training outside the scope of your budget? Book just a few sessions with a trainer to start out right. "They can help you, at the very least, to develop a program," says Deleon, who is certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. "The first 90 days are important. People won't stick with it if they don't know what they're doing, don't get results or they get hurt. They'll go back to being a couch potato and watching reality TV programs." A trainer can help you in all those areas – to find exercises suited to your goals, teach you how to get results and avoid injury. Deleon recommends working with a trainer to start a workout card, which will help you keep track of your reps, sets and seat adjustments for machines.
But, he says ongoing personal training is a wise investment: "If you really want to do it right, a personal trainer will help you to stick with it. I've had a client who lost 40 pounds and another one that went from a size 16 to a size 2."
Tiffany Plummer, a trainer at the Hollywood, California 24 Hour Fitness club, says that rewarding yourself is another good motivator. "You just have to be careful not to reward yourself with food. I try to help my clients break their habit of doing that. Instead, I suggest buying something for yourself, treating yourself to a movie or a massage. Sometimes, when a client has done really well, I tell them to take a small break and not come in."
Other rewards for sticking with your fitness goals could be new clothes to show off your abs or arms, new exercise gear or simply the reward of someone saying "You look great!"
This information and other information on this site is intended for general reference purposes only and is not intended to address specific medical conditions. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice or a medical exam. Prior to participating in any exercise program or activity, you should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition.