How to make your fitness regime stick

Laura Williams


Autumn can be a bit like the New Year when it comes to fitness goals. Well intentioned as you were at the start of the summer, you now realise there’s been more barbecued burgers than beach volleyball over the last couple of months.

Before you start making a list of ambitious, unattainable goals, run through this goal-setting checklist:

■ Keep goals do-able. Pledging to become a five-day-a-week gym bunny after two months on the sun lounger is unrealistic. Commit to 30 minutes, twice a week initially and slowly build up.

■ Don’t become overly competitive. Joining your colleagues to see what all the Crossfit fuss is about after months of inactivity is unwise. Start at your own pace with something that you know you’ll enjoy. This is more likely to make exercise sustainable and injury-free.

■ Find non-aesthetic goals. While it’s fine to aspire to look like a fitness model if that’s what it takes to get you to lace up your trainers, a genuine, serious pursuit of a six-pack is likely to leave you feeling homicidal and suicidal. Try entering a short-distance charity race or be brave and try one of the “muddy” races like Tough Mudder instead. Just find a goal that doesn’t revolve around shrinking your waistline.

■ Manage your expectations. Investing in a gym membership doesn’t mean you’re going to be honed and toned in a week. After a couple of weeks you’ll feel more energetic and optimistic; the tighter body will follow.



■ “I don’t have time to get to the gym”. Then don’t. Squeeze in an early morning run, 15 minutes of a tough fitness DVD or buy yourself a skipping rope instead.

■ “I suffer from knee pain.” Don’t let problem joints prevent you from getting in shape. If aerobics and running are no-nos, cycling, swimming (crawl’s better for the knees than breaststroke) and many resistance exercises are joint-friendly.

■ “I never see results.” Patience, patience, patience. You’ll need to give it a couple of weeks to notice an increase in fitness levels; ditto weight loss. And remember: if weight loss is a goal, you need to make sure you don’t “eat your workout” if you’re going to see results.

■ “I’m too tired to exercise after work.” Find another time to exercise, such as your lunch hour. Short, tough interval sessions are de rigueur for the overstretched exec who doesn’t want to forgo his or her fitness fix completely. The UK’s first official Tabata workout (Japanese scientist Professor Izumi Tabata is recognised as the father of high-intensity interval training) launches on 1 September at Fitness First (, which will be offering Tabata classes at its clubs in Liverpool Street, Spitalfields, St Pauls and Tower Hill.

■ “I find exercise so boring.” Ditch the exercise bike for a bootcamp class. Endless stints on cardio machines in a gym environment may not float your boat, but a circuit class, kickboxing or even a running club may ignite your fitness flame.