"I really want to get into shape so I need to get down to the gym."
The gym is a good place to get into shape and you can indeed get very fit. But I think we set up our health and fitness endeavours with the wrong mindset and going to the gym is a prime example.
In reality, you may go to the gym 3-4 times per week during your motivated stage. However, the average gym attendance when I was working in the gym was 1.5 visits per month. For most people, motivation often wears off and they find themselves closer to the lower average gym attendance. Note that this is only gym attendance. It doesn't look at what people are doing in the gym. You could be doing a 10 minute workout followed by a croissant and a latte. So at best we are pinning 3-4 sessions per week, to undo the years of not being active. It might work for a short while, but you might find that it simply isn't enough to touch the sides.
So there's no point joining the gym? No, that's not what I'm saying. Expecting it to make the big changes you want is what I am getting at. Also, I feel there are other areas of your life to consider which will dictate whether you are successful in your health and fitness goals. So I have written a list of questions you should maybe ask yourself, which will be a better predictor of whether you will succeed with your health and fitness goals.
- How likely are you to enter a fitness event or fun run?
- How likely are you to get involved in a sport or competition?
- How likely would you exercise with your kids for fun, rather than perceive it as a chore?
- How likely would you book an activity holiday?
- How likely is it that you would suggest exercising with your partner (keep it clean) for fun?
- How likely is it you would get back earlier from work to look after the kids so your partner can exercise?
- How likely would you call you friends up and arrange something active for you all to do?
- How often do you go for a walk because you think it is a nice thing to do?
- How likely would you pick a school for your kids because you like the amount of sports and activities on offer?
- How likely would you try cooking something new, with fresh ingredients and find it fun, rather than a pain and a waste of time?
I would even suggest that doctors ask these questions instead of telling people to go the gym.
The gym is about will power and discipline. It only lasts for a short period of time. That's why getting a trainer or getting involved in gym challenges or the social side will keep you hooked into the gym. However, what will make the big difference is how you value some of the questions I have posed above. If you aren't interested in your kids being active, there is a strong likelihood that you will not think it is important for you. Losing fat and getting fit are sold as something which are only for those who 'want it the most.' Progress is more like a leaky tap. Slow and stead always wins the race. Over time you see fantastic results. But to get them, you are going to need more things working in your life than 3 gym sessions per week.
If you're up for playing along, pick a few from the list and see if you can make a start. Just see how comfortable you are with them. When you are comfortable with some of them, I guarantee your mind will be much better set up to succeed with your health and fitness goals.