"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going." -- Jim Ryun
I have a lot of habits. Some good; some not so good. One of the best, though, is my fitness habit. I was active as a kid -- swimming, dancing, gymnastics, skiing, pretty much any sport-without-a-ball -- and I remain active now, as a grown-up -- swimming, dancing, pilates, yoga. (Still avoiding sports-involving-a-ball, though). I belong to a gym. . . a really nice gym, actually. . . and I use it nearly every day.
But I hate January.
Right after the start of the new year, every year without fail, the January People arrive at the gym. They are Motivated. They are Ready. They are Bursting with Resolve.
And I want to support them. I really do. I love being fit -- and I want to share the Gospel of Fitness with everyone. I know how hard it is to move from Motivation . . . to Habit . . . especially when it comes to fitness. I want to be their cheerleader. I want to be supportive, and smile, and say "you-can-do-it." I do. But. Sometimes it's hard in January.
Because, suddenly the parking lot is overflowing. And my "usual" February-through-December locker is being used. And I can't find a spot for my yoga mat on the floor. And the track looks like an obstacle course. And all the cardio machines are full.
I try to keep a good attitude. I try to be happy that so many January People are stepping out on their personal fitness journeys. And, besides, I know it's temporary. They're January People, after all.
But really, what I want to do is give advice. I want to say. . . find the fitness activity that makes you happy; the thing that makes you want to come back and do it again. I'd like to pull January People off to the side and tell them. . .
Maybe lap swimming isn't your thing --- since you obviously don't want to get your hair wet, and you can't swim half a length of the pool without grabbing the lane rope to "rest" awhile. Maybe you would feel better trying the gentle water fitness class?
Or. . .maybe you like to dance -- but the 60-minute high-impact aerobics class might not be the best place for you to start. . . especially since you haven't exercised in several years. Sure, Kathe-the-Killer is a great teacher, and she can teach ANYone to dance, BUT the pace of this class is intense. For 60 solid minutes. And, frankly, I'm worried that you will be injured if you keep bending down to tie your shoes (again and again), or if you keep going left. . . when the rest of us are going right. Maybe you wouldn't have to tie your shoes quite so often in the low impact cardio burst class?
Or. . .maybe you've heard all about the calming, soothing benefits of yoga -- but, trust me, bursting out into fits of giggles whenever the instructor says "downward dog" is not relaxing for any of us. In fact, when she suggests that you "sink into child's pose" whenever the practice becomes too challenging for you, she is, in fact, talking to you. It's very distracting to the rest of us when your arms are windmilling about. . . and you're moaning "whoaaaaaaaaa" through all of the balance poses. Maybe the gentle stretch class would help you get your bearings.
You see, I'm not really a Snarky Gym Person. It actually warms my heart whenever one of the January People become one of the February-through-December People. I just hate the filtering process. It's painful for all of us.
My real message here - for all January People - is to hang in there. It's so easy to give up on fitness -- especially if you start off in the wrong place. Find the class or piece of equipment or technique that works for you - preferably one you really enjoy - and start slowly. If you have fun and feel good about your fitness activities, you're much more likely to turn that Motivation . . . into Habit. There are programs for every level of fitness. Start easy. Work your way up. Challenge yourself -- and succeed.
It's almost February. . .