If you’ve been to the gym in January, then you know that it’s an exciting time for people who are looking to embrace their health and get fit.

In February however, the number of gym-goers has dropped dramatically and many have abandoned their New Year’s Resolutions to lead a more healthy and fit lifestyle.

Is it possible to keep up with your fitness routine even as the end draws near? 

FEMAIL has been taught by personal trainers how to prevent common mistakes, from doing too little too quickly to not having a plan.   

Nik Naidoo, a co-founder of strength based-platform GRNDHOUSE, who used to be a trainer for world-renowned Barry’s explained:  ‘New year, new you? The number one thing I recommend is forgetting about it.

‘It’s paramount to take progression through exercise slowly, and while this isn’t necessarily a sexy mindset to have – patience, consistency and discipline are going to be your secret weapons if you are really serious about making long lasting changes towards your fitness goals. 

“January fitness plans can be great in principle, but unfortunately many of these self-made promises are broken after a few weeks.”

Nik, along with other experts in fitness, share their tips and tricks for avoiding common pitfalls. 

Anyone who's been to the gym in January will know it's a time where people suddenly embrace fitness, bringing in their new year goals by working out and eating healthy. Stock image

If you’ve been to the gym during January, then you know that it’s an exciting time for people who are looking to get fit and eat healthy. Stock photo

Begin small 

FEMAIL was told by Tom McClelland (Head of Athletic Training UK, Virgin Active), that pace is the best way for you to stay fit.

He explained, “Start with small steps.”

Set yourself daily tasks that benefit your mental or physical health and make sure you complete them every day. 

“This could include a walk or a group exercise class. A stretch/mobility session is also possible. It can help you get clear on your goals.

 Autumn Sahar, an ambassador for online fitness brand Core Balance, who provides an array of equipment to support easy and maintainable healthy lifestyle changes, added to FEMAIL: ‘: ‘During January you will be inundated with unhealthy diets which are unsustainable and a road to failing any wellness goals. 

“These diets are promising huge changes in your life. 

They’re not realistic for long-term objectives, and they can also cause you to be unhappy while they are being followed.

Instead, you should make little changes in your daily diet, such as eating less meat, eating more fruits and vegetables per day, and switching to healthier snacks.

Tom McClelland, Head of Athletic Training UK at Virgin Active advised starting small and not going too hard too fast. Stock image

Tom McClelland from Virgin Active, Head of Athletic Training UK advised that you start small and don’t push too hard. Photo by Stock

Do not focus on weight loss 

Tom said, “Try not to focus on weight loss and aesthetics. You could set goals to increase your energy or feel more confident. 

“Find something you love, whether it’s a class, exercise, or just a routine. Then you will be more inclined to keep returning.”    

David Wiener (Training Specialist, AI-based Fitness and Lifestyle Coaching App Freeletics) said: “Don’t compare your self to anybody else.

It is easy to look at someone else doing exactly the same exercises and then compare yourself with them. Do not be discouraged if another person can complete more reps or use a heavier weight. 

“Everyone has to begin somewhere. Just make sure that you are focused on your personal goals and don’t get too far ahead. 

A clear plan should be developed with achievable goals. 

Both short- and long-term goals are crucial

Aimee Long, personal coach added that it was important to set clear goals. 

The most difficult part about setting these goals is breaking them into three components. 

“Short-term, medium-term and long-term. 

“The short-term goals are those you are more likely to reach, and they are also the foundations you can use to get to your long-term goal. 

You will be more motivated to achieve these smaller goals and stick with the plan. 

“Furthermore, if your long-term goal is to lose 10kg in the next year, that could be quite overwhelming. 

“This is where small victories can keep you on the right track.

Nik Naidoo was a co-founder and chief executive of strength-based-platform GRNDHOUSE. For January, it is easy to say, “I’ll get to the gym to try and lose as many calories as I can and hope for best,” but this plan isn’t sustainable and discourages.

Although you may initially see positive results, long term changes are possible only if a plan is in place.

This means having structure and a plan, allowing for progress each week, as well as tracking your workouts.

It’s one thing to not have a plan, but vague goals can make it difficult. Goals such as “losing weight” is simply a fluffy wish – it needs to be specific.

Use the acronym SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Timely) to set clear goals. For example, “I will work out two times a week for thirty minutes, and in the next three months, I hope to be able shoulder press X kilograms.” These goals provide guidance, motivation, and a path for success.

“More on process, less about the statement.

David said, “Don’t allow one missed workout to be the trigger for you missing a whole training week.” 

It is important to be realistic in your goals. When you see results you will feel inspired to train more. 

“It’s okay to set yourself big goals, but you should break them down into micro-goals, so that it’s easy for you to celebrate and track your progress.

Autumn added to FEMAIL:  ‘One of the things we see time and time again is people making huge changes to their lifestyle such as a big calorie deficit or committing to exercising every day when they are usually inactive. 

These types of dramatic changes last about a week, and then the person returns to his old routines.

“Finding a balance between your life and the little changes you can make is a more efficient strategy. 

For example, it is more likely to achieve weight loss goals if you set yourself a weekly goal to lose at least two pounds. 

It is possible to make 2022 a more active year by setting a goal of exercising at least 2-3 times per week, with some variety.

Tom explained it's important to find a work out that works for you, which could be yoga (pictured)

Tom explained that it was important to find work outs that suit you. This could include yoga, as shown in the photo.

Knowing why your body is getting in shape

Nik stated: ‘You may hear that thousands of people set fitness goals for January, but what about YOU? 

Ask yourself what your personal goals are. 

It gives the goal more meaning by putting the why in context. This will give you even greater motivation to stay on track.

Your mindset will change if you remember your ‘Why’. 

“For instance, I want to lose weight to increase my confidence, and live a healthier, longer life.”

David added:  ‘Take some time to discover why you really want to get fitter and make 2022 your fittest year yet.

The question “Why?” is a good place to start. It takes approximately five times for you to reach your core beliefs. 

It is important to remember why you do this and keep your mind open for the future. Then, focus on what you have to accomplish. 

It’s okay to be unmotivated on occasion. It is important to know what motivates you. Ask yourself why you are motivated.

Treat yourself with kindness

Tom explained, “Don’t make unrealistic goals about working out five days a week. If you have never done this before, it is not realistic.” 

Nico agreed to this, explaining that it was a marathon, not a sprint.

It should be short and sweet 

David added:  ‘Doing an hour-long workout (or more) can get seriously tiring, both mentally and physically. 

“So, instead of trying to finish an hour-long workout, you can break it up into smaller chunks, such as 15-minute segments.

Micro HIIT, or brief bursts in intense exercise, can prove beneficial for many people especially those who don’t have much time. 

‘One advantage of Micro HIIT, is the flexibility it offers. It allows you to do short bursts while waiting for your kettle to boil or your meal to be prepared. 

‘Setting unrealistic timelines are incredibly unnecessary and can in fact cause more damage than good – it may even lead to injuries which would hinder progress even more.

I understand the slow, steady progress of the process is not thrilling but it is much better and more long-lasting than trying to achieve instant satisfaction and never succeeding.

‘Patience and consistency are care commodities these days – chase them.’  

Get a friend for a workout

Autumn stated that one of the greatest pitfalls in implementing a lifestyle change is trying to do it all alone. It’s easy to fall prey to people who have the same lifestyle and habits as you.

Encourage at most one person to be a part of your health goals for the New Year. You can make it even more fun by inviting a friend or family member to be your partner in this endeavor. Together you will be able to share meals, workout and eat together.

Don’t over do it

Tom stated that people tend to adopt an all-or nothing approach to fitness when they start the year. However, this is usually not feasible for the 11 months following. 

“This often leads to burnout.

It is usually bad to eat too much. Even good stuff! 

“Ask yourself if this is something you can sustain long-term and not for just 4-8 week. 

“This will make you feel better about the people and things you take care of.

David added, “Embrace setbacks. This is one of the most common mistakes people make. This is the biggest mistake people make. You don’t have to do it, this is an opportunity.

“Training doesn’t go in a straight line. It’s more of a winding road with many speed bumps.

Accept setbacks and accept them. What you did that day is not what matters, but what you do all year. 

Dani Coleman from Los Angeles is the Lead Trainer of P.volve. She told FEMAIL, “I agree.”The biggest mistake I have seen is to dive in too quickly. 

P.volve believes in working smarter, not harder to improve your body’s health. It is important that your fitness routine be sustainable, scalable and built in a way that empowers and inspires you. 

It’s easy for people to be swept up by vanity and fitness driven via social media. There are many mental and emotional health benefits that exercise can bring. They also help to strengthen the body and mind connection, which is crucial for long-term sustainability. You must put your feelings first. You don’t need to do it all alone. To stay motivated, reach out to your network.

70% of the levels you had before Christmas 

Aimee said, “If you have taken some time off during the holidays or you are new to exercise it is important to get back into shape.” 

“I am amazed by how many people come back to the gym just as determined and want to train the same amount of weight and with the same intensity that they did before. 

“This will not only increase the chance of injury, but I also guarantee that for at least the next 3-4 days you’ll feel sore and unable to move. 

“If you feel this way, it’s likely that you will think about why exercising is worthwhile when I don’t feel the same. 

You should aim to work on your next workout at 70%.

Look for a job that is right for you

Tom continued, “You could be a yoga fan or prefer strength training or HIIT group exercise.” Perhaps swimming is your passion. 

Explore all of the options at your club for exercise to find what interests you the most. Enjoying what you do will keep you coming back. 

Aimee added: ‘A huge mistake I have seen is people not doing exercise that they enjoy. 

They believe that they will lose weight by doing this exercise. This is an incredibly wrong approach. 

“Weight loss is a side effect of exercise and shouldn’t be our sole focus. You can try different kinds of exercises over the course of January. 

Find something that interests you and stick with it.