5th February 2024 – „Beep – Beep – Beep“: Your alarm signals that it’s time to put on your workout clothes and head to the gym. You’re trying to muster up the motivation to get out of bed so that your expensive gym membership doesn’t go to waste like last year.
Day after day, both adults and teenagers find themselves in this scenario. Planned workout routines seem to fall by the wayside after a few months, weeks, or even days.
According to a recent Forbes Health study, about half (48%) of Americans had fitness-oriented resolutions for the new year in 2024. However, the study also found that the majority of people forget or give up on their fitness goals within two to three months.
Perhaps you’re a busy mother trying to fit in exercise between school drop-offs, work, and cooking dinner. Or you may be tired of spending money on an expensive gym membership. WebMD has consulted some of the best fitness experts in the country for simple, realistic ways to stick to your goals and achieve the body you’ve always dreamed of.
Where to Start
Consistency and prioritization are key components of a fitness program that you can follow throughout the year, says Gunnar Peterson, personal trainer and former director of strength and endurance for the Los Angeles Lakers. Often, people say they’re too busy to schedule a workout. Peterson says to schedule it in ink instead.
„Exercise needs to become a non-negotiable – you work out at any time and for as much time as you have,“ Peterson said. „I think that’s where people fall short. They simply don’t budget it. You have to. If you don’t budget it, it won’t happen.“
Speaking of budget: No fancy fitness classes are required to reach your body goals. In fact, your body alone can be your most valuable piece of workout equipment, says Peterson.
He refers to the body as „your own great gym“ and „a built-in cardiovascular machine“ that can be used for a range of physical activities like walking, swimming, kicking, and climbing. Strength training is just as important. Luckily, our bodies also have built-in tools to perform exercises like push-ups, squats, and more, says Aaron Ferguson, a Los Angeles-based personal trainer who has helped celebrities like Will Smith get into the „best shape of their lives.“
Working on completing sets of 20 crunches per minute for a total of 20 minutes is an effective workout method, says Ferguson. But don’t worry about the perceived „difficulty“ of a fitness exercise. There are many modifications for strength exercises, making them suitable for both beginners and advanced individuals. For example, doing push-ups on the knees or using water bottles for shoulder presses.
Time Takes Precedence
When it comes to timing, look at your schedule and determine how much time you can allocate to your workout. If you can only give 5 minutes, start there and add time in increments of 5 to 10 minutes. Try it three times a week for a month and you’ll find that your body and mind often crave more, says Peterson.
Susan Williams, a wife and mother of three in Wichita, Kansas, has adopted this practice. As a social worker working 10 to 11-hour shifts, she was too exhausted to juggle going to the gym in between work, preparing dinner, doing household chores, and spending time with her family. So, she gave up the gym and started doing 20 to 30-minute YouTube workouts focused on beginner-friendly cardio movements and strength exercises at home.
„It helps me to do simple exercises comfortably at home – first, knowing I’m not leaving my house,“ Williams said. „Second, I’m not looking at the time because I don’t have to work out for an hour or two. Even 20 to 30-minute workout sessions can be helpful, because the goal is to move – to do something.“
7,000 steps per day. This can be helpful for those like Williams who have a desk job. Setting an alarm to stand up and walk around or drink water every hour can help you stick to your fitness goals.
Be realistic about the time commitment for exercise and the expected results, says Peterson. Generally, 5 minutes of movement out of 24 hours a day is quite small. But people often look at chiseled actors or models and wonder, „Why not me?“ Peterson calls this an entitlement mentality – one that often doesn’t bring you closer to your fitness goals. Consider the many hours these people put into their fitness training to perfect their physique.
„You can’t expect to achieve the same results as them if you’re not doing what they’re doing,“ said Peterson. „There are certainly shortcuts here and there [like surgical or cosmetic procedures], but there’s no shortcut that hacks off 90% of it [body fat]. Maybe you can find a way to save 10% by being more efficient in exercising, eating, or sleeping.“