Ever noticed how health and fitness magazines will tell you the "5 best exercises for sculpted abs"
"The secrets to gaining an inch in your arms in just 6 weeks"
These types of statements actually only end up displaying 2 things:
The 'secrets' are still exactly the same bullshit as they were in the 60's when the first muscle magazines came out
These companies actually have NO IDEA what the people reading them are actually struggling with
Sure, "15 Kettlebell Workouts that help you torch fat" SOUNDS great...
But the reality is that the idea of sweating away like a pig, trying to figure out what the hell you're meant to be doing with this awkward round object in a crowded gym resisting the urge to puke isn't really that appealing.
Unless you're a gym-rat who already loves going it's likely that none of these things really speak to you and your current situation.
So if you're struggling to actually get into the gym to start with then try one of these 3 approaches to inject a little more activity into your life and tap into the only 'secret' that's really out there.
Exercise is the actual fountain of youth.
START WITH 'LITTLE AND OFTEN'
I remember when I first started coaching I gave everyone the advice of 'start with just 1-2 sessions a week and build from there'.
Now whilst this might be a strategy that is appropriate for some, as I've become more experienced I've realized that for many this simply doesn't give them enough opportunity to make exercise a habit.
In 'Atomic Habits' by James Clear he talks about "mastering the art of showing up". This is simply getting in the rhythm of doing something.
In order to build habits we have to give ourselves ample opportunity to practice something. Any act of mastery requires this type of high-frequency approach.
It's why things like the '100 Squat Challenge' have somehow managed to get people off their sofa and performing an action as boring as body-weight squatting every day for a month.
Lately, I've begun programming sessions for clients that last no longer than 10 minutes that they do 5-6 times per week. The goal is to never miss more than 1 day in a row.
COME UP WITH A 'REWARD' SCHEME OR MAKE THE ACTION ITSELF MORE DESIRABLE
I'm gonna start with a disclaimer...
DO NOT MAKE FOOD OR DRINK A REWARD FOR EXERCISE!
I imagine you already probably know this, but using calories burned during exercise as a proxy for how much food you can eat is a lose-lose scenario. Exercise is far more than just the calories burnt, no trackers are particularly accurate at gauging calories burnt, and many poor relationships with food will have started with doing this.
So what could you use as a reward for taking some time to look after yourself each week?
Obviously depends on what floats your boat, but here are a few I've used in the past as rewards:
Buy a book I've been wanting to read if I managed a good week of training
Go out and play some golf on a Thursday afternoon only if I've got my Tuesday and Wednesday sessions in
Buy myself some new clothes at the end of a training block
These are some approaches myself and clients have used to make the action more desirable:
Listen to a favorite album/podcast during training
Train with a friend to make training more sociable
Drink a Squash you love the taste of instead of just plain water
Have some nice trainers that you only use for the gym
It could be something large or it could be something tiny, as long as it's enough of a reward to get you to carry out the action itself it'll work.
PUT SOME SKIN IN THE GAME
One of the biggest reasons 1-2-1 coaching works so well is because it means someone has made not only a financial investment but also included someone else who is now invested in their journey.
Nobody likes to feel like they've wasted something.
It doesn't need to be coaching in particular, but it does need to be enough of a commitment to make you feel uncomfortable about the idea of not using it.
If the money doesn't mean much to you then do something else that you know will provide you with that accountability or discomfort from not doing what you said you would.
Make a bet with a friend, tell your social media feed, sign up for a group program.
Whilst these kind of extrinsic motivators are not something you want to rely on long-term, they are certainly useful at the start to get you moving in the right direction until you make 'being an exerciser' part of your identity.
Hopefully you'll be able to see utility in some of these strategies for your current situation, and if the idea of coaching is something you think could benefit you then give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'd love to have a chat over what support I can offer.