There’s nothing fun about setting fitness goals you can’t reach. Starting with reasonable goals, and hitting them, is much more likely to keep you coming back for more.
“A lot of the time people start out and then set some really hefty goals, whether it’s ‘I want to lose 20 kilos’ or ‘I want to run a marathon’,” says Danny Walker, from fitness studio Frame. Hitting goals – even small ones – conditions the brain to enjoy the activity and stay motivated. “Every time you set out to do something and you do it, it feels good. So by setting small, attainable goals, you suddenly start reaching them. It builds on itself, it’s like a reward system you can use.”
When trying to find the right exercise program, Walker recommends figuring out your priorities. “It always comes back to what are you trying to do and how much time do you have to put into it?” Walker says. “The ultimate thing is you’re not going to be able to put exercise in front of your family – and you might not be able to put it in front of your job – so you have to be able to find attainable goals that you’ve got the time to put into.”
With a little more understanding of our time budget and goals, Walker has some suggestions for fitness activities.
Join a team sport
After-work sports tick a lot of boxes: they’re fun, low-pressure and pretty social, too. “In the team environment you start making new friends,” says Walker. “It’s a lot less intimidating than if you’ve ever walked into a gym for the first time.” After-work sports tend to be pretty broad in choice, so if you’re not all that interested in, say, soccer or volleyball, you’ve still got a lot of options. Casual exercise is a gentle introduction, and plenty of pubs and social clubs have teams, while enterprises like Just Play are dedicated to helping people join in the fun. You can just register yourself or with a friend – Just Play will find a team for you.
Sign up to a fun run
The clue really is in the name: keep it light and attainable so you enjoy the running rather than burning out. “Always pick the smallest one to start,” says Walker. “You could aim for maybe a five or 10-kilometre depending on what your experience is like. Just aiming for one means you can get into a little bit of training without having to be so regimented when going for something like a half marathon or a marathon.” Plus, with events like the Beer Run, fun really is hard to avoid.
Talk to your workplace about starting a health program
As we begin to return to the office, physical and mental health at work is a renewed focus. “A lot of people are beginning to understand the importance of looking after ourselves – particularly workplaces keeping a team happy and healthy,” says Walker. Whether it’s walking at lunch time or bringing in a corporate health and wellness team, working out with your work group can be great for keeping everyone on track. “If there’s a health and wellness program and everyone starts to do it, it’s far more likely to succeed the more people get involved.”
Meet with a friend for gym workouts
We all know the gym can be intimidating. Everyone seems like a pro and then, here we are, looking lost and out of place. Buddying up can make the transition a lot easier and more enjoyable. “You’re far more likely to stick to something if there’s someone else and you do it with a friend because the two of you can keep each other in check,” Walker says. “It’s a bit like team sport where you’re simply showing up and that’s all you really need control over. A really big plus for a lot of people, especially if they’re just starting out, is simply having that person who’s got that experience they can show them; then suddenly they’re learning, as opposed to trying to figure it out.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Just Play, a platform dedicated to connecting people with team sports for fun and fitness. Check it out and see what’s happening in your city.