Updated: May 28
At the start of every year, many people work new fitness or exercise goals into their New Year’s Resolutions. We aim to start the year off right, make a plan for ourselves, and with a bit of motivation and a lot of determination, we do our best to stick to it! But then life get’s busy with other plans - each season makes our schedules busy in a different way, so it can be easy to let workout goals and routines fall to the wayside. Eventually, we start to think about getting ourselves back into our old exercise habits, or perhaps even starting new ones! While our intentions are always good, putting a new routine into practice (or restarting an old one) isn’t always easy. Here are our top 5 suggestions for getting back into the swing of things!
1) Include Fitness In Your Weekly Schedule
The best way to get back into a regular workout routine is to make it part of your daily or weekly plan - build it into your calendar! Work, school, running errands, etc. all have their place in your week - take time to review where you have some windows of free time and commit them to your workouts. Choose 2-3 days in a week, if possible, and mark them down right away. The first step to getting back into a regular workout routine is to pre-plan your time slots - then all you have to do is show up!
What to do if your schedule changes, or is not consistent.
Some people have a relatively similar schedule each day/week, and some have schedules that look entirely different from one week to the next. Our day-to-day lives change with the seasons, and sometimes get turned upside down when big life events/changes come along. However, having the same workout schedule every week is not a pre-requisite for sticking with it. Have a few options lined up so that you're always ready to go!
2) Choose something CONVENIENT so you can be CONSISTENT
Choosing your form of exercise is also an important factor to maintaining a regular workout routine. Group fitness classes, like Zumba, Yoga or Strong Nation, can be very helpful in keeping you committed to your plan. These classes typically exist at a scheduled time, and the instructor has done all the work - your only job is to show up and move our body. If you are a gym member, look for classes that are already included in your membership. You can also search for classes in your community. Local community centres and schools often run programs, or have someone running programs out of their facility. For example, Yvonne’s Fitness runs its in-person classes out of the Lindenwoods Community Centre in Winnipeg. If you live in or near this neighbourhood, it’s a perfect opportunity to sign up for classes that are conveniently nearby.
Then there’s the online option. Being able to workout from home is perhaps the most convenient way to stay consistent with your fitness, especially during your busier times. It is quite simple to get yourself set up to exercise from the comfort of your own home. Choose an online program that offers a variety of options so you can pick and choose your workouts. Yvonne’s Fitness offers weekly Zumba, Yoga, Strong Nation and Weight Training classes that can be accessed at any time, as many times as you want, over a certain period of time, and there are different class lengths (from 15-60 minutes) to offer you the further convenience of being able to do a shorter class on days when you simply don’t have as much time. Whether it’s online or in-person, be sure to choose what seems most accessible for your weekly schedule!
3) Take Advantage of the Weather
Nature is a great alternative to keeping active, and there are many benefits to exercising outside, such as boosting your mental health, relieving stress, and challenging your body in different ways than an indoor setting. Hop on your bicycle, take the dog for a walk, meet up with a friend for a lovely afternoon stroll - the options are endless, and can be squeezed in just about anywhere. Go for a 10 minute swim while you're at the beach (in summer), or strap on some snowshoes and go exploring (in winter). Each season has its share of fun outdoor activities to participate in, so you are not likely to come up short with alternative ideas.
You can take your Zumba classes outside, too! In the summer months, Yvonne’s Fitness holds outdoor classes at the local community centre, and will hold the occasional pop-up class outside in the fall as well! But even if there aren’t in-person outdoor classes available, if you’re a virtual participant, you can take your classes outside from home. All you need is a safe space in your backyard where your wifi reaches (or an ethernet cable that reaches a further spot), and you’re good to go! Take your laptop or tablet outside, and enjoy your Zumba, Yoga or Strong Nation class with some fresh air and sunshine for as long as you can (though we would not recommend this as a Winnipeg winter option)!
Yvonne and her students doing an outdoor Zumba + Strong Nation summer class.
4) Set Goals
Everyone’s goals for exercise are different - from weight loss to feeling better to health reasons, having a clearly defined end target can help keep you on track. Create a SMART goal for yourself: Specific, Measurable, Actionable/Achievable, Realistic, Timely. Be clear and specific with yourself about what you’d like to accomplish, make sure it can be measured (ie. wanting to complete two 60 minute classes per week), determine which actions you need to take to make it happen, confirm that you are able to commit (realistically, do you have two hour-long windows in a week?) and decide how long you would like to continue this goal (3 months, or until the end of the year, etc.). Setting goals this way creates a higher probability for success in following through, and follow-through is such a great feeling when you’ve finally reached your goal!
5) Join a Fitness Community / Make Some Exercise Friends
One of the best ways to keep yourself motivated with a new or revamped workout routine is to have someone to hold you accountable - or multiple someone’s! This is why group fitness classes like Zumba are particularly helpful in sticking with an exercise schedule - as you make friends in the class, there will be people waiting for you to show up.
And it doesn't have to stop there. When you meet someone in a Zumba class, for example, you know right away that you have a certain level of similar interest when it comes to exercise. Perhaps you share other exercise interest or goals - ask your new Zumba friend if they like to go for walks and meet up with them in the park. Outdoor activities can be more fun with a friend, so if you're feeling unmotivated, make plans with a friend to do that snowshoeing or dog-walking. This can be a great way to maintain friendships AND your exercise goals at the same time!
ADDED BONUS: The Mental Health Boost!
Maintaining a regular exercise routine is easier when our day-to-day life is running smoothly - it's when life throws us some curveballs that we have a hard time keeping up. The irony is that this is often the time we need exercise the most.
Exercise is one of the most recommended suggestions for boosting mental wellness,. Working out can provide physiological benefits, such as endorphin release and better sleep, but it can also be as simple as that hour of exercise being an opportunity to step away from the stresses of life. A Zumba class, for example, is full of such upbeat music that within a song or two, you’re likely to have let your mind sink into the music and the steps. Even though life is still waiting for you after class, for 60 minutes you can shake and shimmy your cares away.
There is truly never a right (or wrong) time of year to make or remake an exercise routine. Whether you’re just starting, or looking to get back into things, including fitness in your day-to-day life is always a challenge. Find what feels convenient and fun for you and jump right in - the sooner the better!