New year, fresh focus – Building a sustainable fitness routine.

breaking through barriers

Yay, it’s 2022! Cue all the ‘new year – new you’ messaging that often fall flat after a couple of weeks. What 2022 brings us is a fresh start with a blank page ahead of us. Yes, we can set goals, but they need to be realistic (the R in SMART goals).

What makes a goal realistic is a plan and a plan we actually implement. What works over time, in planning to get fitter and stronger is accountability, I prefer to focus on habit building to create sustainable routines which get us to where we wish to be.

We need to shift away from the short term fixes that diet cultures sell us and promise us will work.  For example ‘get shredded with my 5 minute workout plan’ or ‘just eat these 6 foods and loose 3 stone in 3 weeks’.

Realistic goals

How can we make our fitness goal a realistic one? Start small – by being conservative in the first instance. Trying to fit in a new thing when you have a full time job, two kids, a dog and an elderly parent to look after, means that you may be unlikely to be able to do the couch to 5K running programme in 3 months, it might take you 5 months instead and that’s OK.

If you can, start by adding in a new class that fits nicely into your routine to suit you. Try it out and if you enjoy it – great, build from there, if it does not work, don’t worry and look for something else which does.

Once you have an idea of your new routine, run it past a loved one and ask them if it seems realistic given your other commitments. You have a plan now let’s think about how we help you stick to it.


If I had a pound for every time that someone said to me “I just can’t seem to get up and go for that run/do a weights workout/stretch/swim”, I’d probably be quite wealthy, not enough to retire on but still, I hear it fairly often. This is also a reason that I also have a personal trainer.

That reason is accountability – we are all much less likely to let someone else down than we are to let ourselves down. If I’ve said I’m going to be somewhere, I will make sure I am. If I think to myself that I need to fit in a workout somewhere in my week and then my week gets busier, I tend to de-prioritise myself and miss my workout. If I have parted with my hard-earned cash and made a commitment to someone, then I’m going to prioritise it and do everything in my power to be there. I will defend and protect that time and I get a workout done.

As a personal trainer, I see it time and time again that if clients have invested in something and there is a cancellation policy then they show up and workout consistently. Where there is a more flexible approach, then they are much more likely to cancel.

Working out in a pair or small group also adds to the accountability, you want to see your class buddies, catch up and train together – this is where my outdoor class really works. You get to know the small group and enjoy the community, prioritising seeing them and working out together.   All of these combed helps you to stay accountable and focus on your own wellbeing.


If we can shift our mindset, we will help ourselves to make small changes towards our fitness goals.

Daily affirmations are a great way of bringing our goal to the forefront of our mind and help us to achieve the change we wish to achieve.

The way to structure your affirmation statement is to keep it positive and in the present.   Regularly repeating a positive statement about yourself can encourage your brain to take these affirmations as fact. When you believe you can do something, your actions will often follow.

  • I am exercising to get fitter and stronger every day.
  • I am making a difference to my long-term health and well-being by:-
    • walking every day
    • working out twice a week
    • planning my sessions into my week
  • I am strong and I am capable, I can do whatever I choose.
  • I appreciate what my body does for me each day and I keep myself in good physical and mental health with regular activity.

Write out your affirmation statement, repeating frequently out loud every day, will help you programme your brain. Start with 3 to 5 minutes twice a day. Try saying affirmations upon waking up and going to bed. Repeat each affirmation about 10 times. Listen to yourself saying it, focusing on the words as they leave your mouth and really believe that they are true. Making your routine consistent will help.


In my experience building a habit is only really hard if you don’t really want to do it.

Very few people struggle to build a habit to do something nice or really fun like playing on a computer game, eating a cake or reading a good book. We get something instantly from these things, if our exercise can be like that too then fab. But if it’s not as easy as that for you then think about why?  Is it because you don’t really want to do it?  Is there a better alternative which focuses on something you really enjoy?  

If you are struggling to make a run a weekly habit? Perhaps try an alternative form of exercise such as a spinning class, game of football or learning a new sport.  Any way that we can make moving our body fun is a winner when trying to build a habit and routine.

Good luck with whatever fitness challenges and goals you set for yourself in 2022 and if you would like some help in getting started, we are offering a 2 for 1 on our group exercise classes “Fitness in the Forest” in Osgood Park.  Get in touch to find out more and book your place.

See you there!

Sara McDonnell

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