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How to Make an Effective Fitness New Year’s Resolution

Posted December 16, 2010 by

Did you know that large chain gyms like 24 Hour Fitness and Bally’s make the majority of their money off of folks who come to the gym, buy a membership and then never come back? In fact, they DEPEND on this concept, because if everyone who bought a membership tried to go to the gym on a consistent basis, the gym would be completely overcrowded and nobody would be able to work out. On the flip-side, the gyms would quickly go bankrupt without these “silent investors” as I like to call them. This is a shady, unethical business model in my opinion, but that’s one of the reasons that I don’t work for a gym!

Big gyms make a killing during the first couple of months of each year… can you guess why? If you guessed it’s because a bunch of people come in with grandiose fitness plans fueled by New Years resolutions, you’d be absolutely correct. They come with a bee in their bonnet, are easily sold on memberships and sometimes even large personal training packages, and predictably, they never show up again. Money down the drain and another year of unhealthy living and failed goals is all they have to show for it, while the gym manager laughs his way to the bank!

The question is, why are all these people flaking out on their goals—goals that they seemed SO hyped about at the beginning of the year? There are a few reasons actually, and in this article I want to explain what they are and how you can move away from these unproductive habits and instead learn to make goals that you will stick with and ultimately achieve.

Below you will find five factors that, when abbreviated, spell out the mnemonic S.M.A.R.T. This concept originated in the project management industry, but applies to goal-setting equally well in all areas of life. It stands for:

Specific: your goals need to be defined… instead of saying, “I want to be toned,” you should say, “I want to lose 15 lbs of body fat and go from a size 12 to a size 6.” This makes it easier to create a vision of success as well as to break your goal down into sub goals.

Measurable: inline with being specific, your goal needs to be measurable so that you can break it into mini goals and track progress over time. “I want to be toned” obviously can’t be broken into sub goals, while a specific amount of weight/inches lost can be. Achieving this string of smaller goals on the path to the larger goal is incredibly motivational and will keep you at it a lot longer than aimlessly wondering if you’re anywhere near your lofty goal.

Attainable: setting an ambitious goal is great, but only if it’s realistic. You want to shoot high, but still be able to succeed, or you’re just setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. I get a lot of new clients who come to me and say they want to perform years’ worth of progress in a couple months—unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way!

Relevant: your smaller goals need to relate to your “big picture” goal—that is, how you ideally view yourself in the long term. By maintaining a continuity to your goals, you prevent yourself from hopping back and forth from opposing goal to opposing goal and consequently never achieving anything.

Time-bound: your goal needs to have deadlines! If you don’t have a due date for success, you will never feel the urgency to get with it… this is one of the main reasons that New Year’s resolutions hardly ever work—people say, “I’m going to lose weight and get healthy this year,” with no actual date in mind (in addition to no defined goal) and thus they have no ability to break the goal into a scheduled strategy. Additionally, no due date makes it that much easier to procrastinate—something that is already incredibly easy to do in this case!

Beyond this, you need two things—you need to truly WANT to achieve your goals and you need someone to hold you accountable. Nobody but you can make you truly desire success… this has to come from within. As for accountability, there are a few ways to achieve this. You can find a workout buddy to accompany you each day to the gym and to trade nutritional tips with, or you can hire a personal trainer or join a bootcamp if you want to combine the accountability with someone guiding you along your path.

I want to challenge all my readers to sit down and carefully make a S.M.A.R.T. fitness goal for 2011. If you combine this with the desire for success and the accountability needed to keep you on track, you WILL see success—I guarantee it!