“You can have results or excuses. Not both.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

It’s a new year, which means it’s resolution time. The holiday break is over–now you have to tighten up your belt and get to work…on tightening your belt. Yes, it’s time to go back to the gym. The gym can be an intimidating place. The scent of rubber and sweat fills the air as people low-key flex in the mirror. You may start to think to yourself, ‘Why am I here?’

You’re there to live your best life. It’s not always easy to stick to going to the gym. But the secret formula is all in having a proper schedule. A stable routine is the best way to build habits, and building habits is what’s going to keep you going to that gym. After a few weeks of holiday veggin’ (not those kinds of veggies), it’s time to get back on track. Not only is it a new year, but it’s also a new decade. So let’s kick it off the right way.

Here are some tips that will help you stick to a gym routine in 2020:

1. Start in the morning

Girl gets slapped by an alarm clock

You may have to get up earlier, which is hard. But the reality is that people have a finite amount of will power. As the day goes on, decision fatigue starts to kick in. After a long day, you’ll be less likely to have the willpower to go to the gym than in the morning. It is also great to start your day with a positive activity. If you go to the gym in the morning, you can feel good that you achieved something productive.

Dwayne Johnson gets up at 4 a.m. every morning to go to the gym, and he’s a movie star. Is there a correlation between working out in the morning and being a movie star? Who knows, but maybe try it out.

2. Build it into your checklistCartoon character checks off an obscure list of things to do

Lists are a great way to keep yourself organized and accountable for what you need to do in the day.

If you don’t make lists, you should start. It’s the perfect way to keep on track of your daily goals. If you already create lists, write down ‘go to the gym’ at the top. There is something powerful about visually seeing what you need to do. Every time you take a gander at that list, it will be a reminder that you haven’t yet reached the gym. Eventually, you will feel compelled to go and cross it off the list, or you won’t, and swiftly descend into madness. Those are the only two outcomes.

Whether you go to North, Guelph-Humber, or Lakeshore, there are a ton of free fitness classes included in your membership as a student. Follow @humberfitnessnorth and @humberlakeshore_athletics to stay up to date on class cancellations, tips, and all the info you need to hit the gym strong this year.

3. Be flexible

Contortionist flexes into a band bend

Of course, studies show that going to the gym at the same time every day helps build a habit. But life rarely works out that way. Stuff happens. Things come up. There will be times where you will have to shift things around to accommodate life. It is easy to say, ‘Oh, I’m too busy today, I’ll do it tomorrow.’ That is a slippery slope to breaking your habit. Keeping up your streak is important to compelling yourself to stick with the gym.

4. Don’t push yourself

Toddler gets dragged on the ground by a child-sized merry-go-round

There is such a thing as going too hard. It’s common for people to push themselves too hard at the gym. They either become burnt out or injure themselves and then they don’t go back for months. Another thing to keep in mind is that it is natural to be sore the first few days you come back from the gym. It may hurt a lot actually, but don’t be deterred. Your muscles will only really hurt the first time you work out, the next time you work out that muscle group, it won’t be (quite) as sore.

5. Remember why you started

A rapper in Gucci attire dances while text pops up saying "I'm so awesome"

This is very important. There are a lot of reasons people go to the gym, but it all should come from self-love and self-improvement. The minute you start doing it to look like the Instagram models, you’re bound to fail. The majority of that content is fabricated and unattainable. You can only look like that if you have a thorough knowledge of Photoshop and soft lighting–and maybe a little plastic surgery too. That also goes for looking at others in the gym. Everyone is different and is on a different stage of their fitness journey.

When things get tough, and you’re sitting at the end of your bed at 6:30 a.m. considering diving back under the covers. remember that you are doing this for yourself. It is for no one else but you.

6. Don’t be impatient

The Cookie Monster taps his fingers on a board room table

Whether you’re trying to get shredded, or just want to feel more active, progress won’t happen overnight. We live in a society of instant gratification. Unfortunately, some things require patience and dedication. Teddy Roosevelt said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.” Satisfaction comes from the journey, the trial and tribulations that come with pushing your limits both physically and mentally. Keep your head down and concentrate on your personal gym goals, and you will see results in time.

7. Use apps

Person dressed as Spiderman texts in a park bench

It can be confusing to go into the gym with no knowledge of what to do. This lack of education can cause people to become frustrated and quit their routine. Luckily, we live in a world with supercomputers in our pockets. There are a bunch of great apps that will help you on your fitness journey. If you know what you are doing already, FitNotes is a simple app where you record your progress. If you’re looking for pre-made fitness routines, JEFIT has both free and paid routines that you can use. They also range from beginner to expert, so you can feel good about finding a plan that fits your needs. In order to keep up your routine, it’s important to have structure both outside and in the gym. These apps will help you with the latter.

Healthy living isn’t just about being active, it’s also about healthy eating. Check out the only smoothie recipes you’ll ever need.

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