You often see athletes and gym-goers who will stop at nothing to seek the newest supplement, piece of exercise equipment, or program that will provide them with the results they so desperately want (but so desperately would prefer not to work for).
The truth is that the men and women who are crushing it in the gym know it's not about the supplement, the footwear, or even the activity itself.
It all comes down to one hilariously unattractive word...
Yes, I know.
But that's the secret ingredient. While everyone else runs around looking for the next magic formula promising overnight results, this thing will continue to be the quiet little engine that operates in the background and silently gives you results until someone can package it.
You are not alone if you've had trouble maintaining a regular workout routine and staying consistent in the gym.
There are many people that gym owners absolutely love. Why? Because to them, these are the fools who throw their money away by paying full price for a membership yet only occasionally visit the gym.
But this changes now!
Over the past eighteen years, I have been to the gym more times than there are days (two-a-days made up for vacations, illnesses, days off, etc.), and I have learned some important lessons about what it takes to remain consistent in the gym along the way.
The following are some of my favourite advices for becoming the gym-goer your local gym owner despises:
1. Make the decision to always be consistent
Making the decision to go to the gym more frequently is the first step toward improving your consistency.
Yes, I realise that this seems very simplistic and perhaps very new age, but bear with me.
You already have identities, and all we're going to do is add "consistent at the gym" to that same list.
Can't seem to recall some of your identities? L et me assist you...
Are you very organised? A wonderful partner? A superb cook? Perhaps someone who is really reliable? A person who is regularly there for friends?
These are identities you have chosen to adopt over time. (Reinforcement from people, such as "You're such a fantastic cook!" certainly helps. However, in the end, it is you who is responsible for allowing these identities to stay).
This works so well because we have a tendency to gravitate toward our perceived areas of strength. We tend to rely on our qualities, which is why we cherish our good identities so much. We are quite happy and proud to have them.
In the end, our behaviours are ultimately driven by how we view ourselves. Or, to put it another way, if you tell yourself, "I'm the kind of person who finds a way to make it to the gym, no matter what," then your actions, behaviours, and exercise habits will reflect this.
Very basic, right?
Before you get carried away though, remember that this will only work if you feed the positive feedback cycle, which will help to strengthen the identity. In other words, you can't tell yourself that you go to the gym often and then decide not to.
Action fuels perception, which in turn strengthens perception. Then we keep going around in circles.
2. Establish a strict workout schedule
The main reason claimed by people for not going to the gym?
"I don't have time."
This claim is absolutely ridiculous.
Why is this ridiculous? Because regardless of how chaotic and crazy your schedule appears to be or how busy your life is, there is someone out there busier than you who is working out right now.
Tony Robbins once said one of my favourite quotes quite articulately:
"It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped."
When you commit to a definite, non-negotiable workout slot each day, the rest of your calendar will be required to follow suit.
There will definitely be a learning curve as you adjust to your new routine.
You'll need to cut back on some activities (sorry, no more late-night Netflix binges), save money, and make better plans for other activities (food prep, for instance).
Your schedule shouldn't control how you spend your time.
You run your own schedule, so let it work for the things that really matter to you the most.
3. Build an environment that encourages consistency at the gym
Now, this may sound bizarre...
Or even slightly insane...
But do the other aspects of your life (your way of living, your diet, the people you spend time with, your sleeping patterns) support or undermine your efforts in the gym?
Here are a few instances:
Do you intend to eat a lot of junk food in the middle of the day even if you know that the accompanying sugar crash will make you less inclined to work out later?
Do you spend time on your phone when lying in bed when you should be asleep and have been for an hour already?
Look, I'm not telling you to live a perfect life.
But going to the gym every day is hard work.
And it's unbelievable how frequently we make it harder for ourselves before we even get started.
Examine your life realistically to identify any areas where you may reduce the resistance that is preventing you from making it to the gym.
4. Follow the five-minute rule
What does the "5-Minute Rule" mean?
It's a belief to start.
Let me tell you something you already know:
There will always be days when going to the gym is the last thing you feel like doing. All you want to do is go out for a beer with your friends after your boss gives you a hard time at work. Your partner is stressing you out about something that occurred last week between her friends. You have a tonne of reasons today. You're exhausted, sleepy, just not "feelin' it," and many other excuses that you can think up.
The best method to get around these excuses and keep up the high consistency we desire is to make a commitment to working out for 5 risk-free minutes at the gym.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
No matter how miserable you feel or how awful of a day you have had, make a commitment to enter the gym and warm up for five minutes. If, after five minutes of exercise, you still have no desire to be there, then say good bye to it and leave.
But in reality, it won't happen very often.
Not only does the brain strongly despise incomplete tasks—the mere thought of an unfinished workout motivates us to complete it. Being in a setting suited to working out will also significantly enhance your likelihood of wanting to exercise.
(Remember how we discussed creating an environment that encourages consistency? ).
5. Create and keep a workout journal
“What?” I hear you saying.
"Now I have to write out and record my workouts?"
Absolutely, and here's why.
It is the most effective tool you can utilize to maintain consistency in the gym.
After all, the easy act of writing on a piece of paper for a few minutes each day has the following incredibly awesome effects on you:
It makes progress clear. Since there is no written record of our workouts, who are we to argue that we are all doing them exactly as planned? It is much easier to create realistic fitness and workout goals when you have a record of your prior workouts. This is because having a clear record of your workout history provides you a far better idea of how much you have actually trained.
You will be extremely motivated by it. Being able to look through a log book and see all of the progress you have made is one of the most encouraging and effective things to give you that motivational boost.
Your brain hates an incomplete list. Going back to the point earlier about the brain despising incomplete tasks, you are more likely to finish your entire workout when it is written down, than if it wasn't. Especially when you're exhausted and wanting to quit, looking at your workout journal will tell your brain, nope, we're not done yet.
Although maintaining consistency at the gym is difficult, it does become simpler with time.
Success, after all, doesn't come from a bottle or a shoe box (as much as clothing and supplement companies would love for you to believe otherwise).
In the end, it all boils down to working hard and doing so consistently. The rest is simply a bonus.
Will you be the person who commits to go to the gym more frequently starting today?