It’ll be no surprise to any regular gym-goer that the most popular month for joining the gym is in January. Making someone feel welcome at the gym is a key part of keeping someone there. It’s easy to get frustrated at how many new people descend on the weights room at the turn of the year, but everyone went to the gym for the first time once.
According to Realbuzz, 12% of gym members sign up in the month of January as part of a new year’s resolution, a gift, or a general change of attitude after the festive season. However, up to 80% of those members quit within five months.
The question this presents is… why? Is it something as simple as a new year’s resolution not lasting? It’s also key to explore how to stay motivated past the first 31 days of the calendar.
Going to the gym isn’t cheap. A gym membership at a low-budget gym may cost around £15-20 per month, but a health club or fitness centre with added amenities such as spa and pool can be considerably more expensive. People often don’t pay attention to the costs when setting a fairly vague goal to ‘get fit’. Tunnel vision drives us to want to lose some weight, but there is a lot more that goes into joining a gym than just stepping on a treadmill.
The pounds may fly off in the initial weeks after joining the gym if someone’s body is not used to regular exercise. At some point, it’s natural to hit a wall as your body gets used to your new routine. If caught out, this can drag people down a whole new avenue of their fitness journey. This can include buying new equipment including resistance bands, barbell pads and foam rollers, being lured by a personal trainer or buying supplements such as protein powders. None of these come cheap when added into the cost of your gym membership over the course of the year.
What’s the solution? Only spend what you can afford! Your gym membership is not only for 31 days, especially if you sign a contract. Don’t buy into one that you cannot afford to keep. Spend some time conducting extensive research into the equipment a gym or club has to offer, go to multiple inductions to see which environment you feel most comfortable in and then leave some budget on top of that to ensure you can afford any of the add-ons you feel necessary such as classes, equipment or personal training.
Time constraints can lead to a slippery slope. One missed session leads to two, and sooner or later someone who was as excited as a kid on Christmas eve to get on a treadmill a month earlier may not have been to the gym in a couple of weeks. Progress lost.
What’s the solution? Planning and being realistic. The more realistic you set your sights at the start of your fitness journey, the easier it will be to grow your fitness regime. It’s hard to go from not exercising much to being a body builder who spends five days a week in the gym. What is realistic is two or three light sessions a week to start. If your routine allows for more sessions then great, of course you can go to the gym more often! Plan your sessions in advance so you can make the most of the time you have in the gym. It’s better to have two fantastic workouts than five rubbish ones. Don’t get too disheartened if life gets in the way of the gym every now and again, it’s natural.
It’s far too easy for a gym newbie to set unrealistic goals. Everyone signs up to their new gym with a picture in their head of what they want to look like. We start our fitness journeys to get to a point we feel comfortable, with our bodies. Aiming for the dream body within a fortnight is not quite how it works.
What’s the solution? A fitness journey is a marathon… not a sprint. Setting achievable goals will not only keep you motivated and prevent you from panicking every time you look in the mirror, but will also keep you in the gym for longer than just January. Speak to the staff in your club or gym regarding goal-setting. Most staff and trainers are happy to give free, helpful advice on what you should look to achieve in a time period you feel comfortable, tailored exactly to what you want to achieve. If your aim is to lose a couple of stone, make sure not only do you have your main goal but plan what you want to do once you reach that goal. It’s a fantastic feeling to hit a target so work out what it is you want to do once that goal is achieved and how you’re going to reach your next milestone.
Going to the gym offers so much more than weight loss or muscle growth. Fitness offers a stress release, health benefits such as reduced blood pressure and cholesterol and a fantastic way to socialise with fellow members or friends. These are benefits that last 12 months, not one. Your goals will not come to you by stopping attending the gym. As they say… better late than never!