Reasons Why New Year Fitness Resolutions Fail

Have you noticed that your gym’s been ridiculously crowded since New Year’s Day? I certainly have – especially yesterday, when I had to wait 15 minutes for the squat rack while a newbie used the Olympic bar to stretch her hamstrings! But I digress.

Statistics show that January is the most lucrative time of the year for gyms and health clubs. They get to cash in on all those New Year resolutions to get fit, lose weight, and feel healthier. The clubs will be buzzing with energy, and you’ll see new members training vigorously with the manic zeal of the newly converted. But come February, don’t be surprised if everything goes back to normal. The truth is, those New Year fitness resolutions just don’t last very long, and by February, a big chunk of new members will have dropped out. Perhaps you’ve even experienced this yourself! Have you ever wondered why New Year fitness resolutions fail? Here’s my take.

  • Unrealistic Goals and Expectations. Surely you’ve heard some of these. They go something like this – “I’m going to lose 40 lbs in 4 weeks!”, or “I’m going to look like Brad Pitt did in ‘The Fight Club’. And I’m going to do it by February.” When you set unrealistic goals and expectations, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. You’ll be discouraged that at the end of 4 weeks, you’ve lost a grand total of 10 lbs (which is in fact excellent progress). You’ll be upset that it’s Valentine’s Day, and you still don’t have Brad’s lean mean body. And when you don’t see the progress you expect, you give up. Here’s a newsflash – Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your new body won’t be built in a day either.
  • Too much, too soon. Have you seen gym members flat on the floor after having tried to do too much, too soon? Enthusiasm is a good thing, but many will go to extremes in pursuit of quick results, doing set after set, or spending hours on the cardio machines. (See what I mean about unrealistic expectations?) I can’t imagine why they’re surprised when there’s little change to their bodies, and they feel tired all the time. I’d be completely unmotivated too, if gym sessions were long and unpleasant, and served almost no purpose. I wouldn’t blame these people if they didn’t want to come back ever again. But it really doesn’t have to be this way. You can get results with short and intense sessions, and still have fun. The Microfitness program, which squeezes everything into just 15-30 mins two to three times a week is one such example.

Here’s a last suggestion from someone been training for years. Think of this fitness journey as a sprint, not a marathon. If you start off with unrealistic expectations and an over-the-top training program, you’ll drop out way before the half-way mark. (42 km is a long way to sprint!) In contrast, a consistent and steady pace will always get you where you want to go. Make fitness a lifestyle and you’ll be surprised at how easily you reach your goals!

Sharon Lim
CSCS, NSCA-CPT

PS: Since we’re talking about New Year resolutions this week, I wanted to point out that there’s no need to wait until the New Year, or to hold out until some special day when all the stars are aligned, to get started on your fitness. What’s wrong with today?

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