Committing to fitness can be overwhelming, especially for those completely new to fitness or returning after a break. Turning exercise into a sustainable fitness habit takes time, but if you nail it, you can stay active… for LIFE!
We're not going to lie; creating a fitness habit can be tricky.
You have to commit to making time in your schedule, push through when motivation runs dry, and of course, try a wide variety of workouts until you find what works for you. While Move can provide a vast array of activities for you to try, we looped in a pro to get some top tips on how to make fitness a habit and make it one that sticks.
Lewis Paris Fitness is a London-based wellness company offering personal training, group fitness classes and corporate wellness. Their services expand to our Move members via live streaming and have whipped countless bodies into shape. We have the sweat stains to prove that Lewis and his team know their stuff and train you hard. Just look at the top reviews their sessions receive!
Head trainer & Director Lewis Paris is committed to helping you become the greatest YOU through mindset, exercise, education and nutrition and knows how to help others break down barriers to sustainable fitness and embrace healthy habit formation. Now, over to the man himself.
How to make a sustainable fitness habit (and stick to it!)
Do you find the whole "wellness" game challenging to manage, maintain, and do consistently? That's ok. Nothing worthwhile is easy, and modern society doesn't make it easy for us at all. The TV or our phones distract us, processed food is far too convenient, being sociable is time-consuming, and consistently heading to the gym can be challenging. Especially when juggling family and work commitments.
My philosophy is to do what makes you feel happy, which is crucial for forming habits. If you dread an event or commitment, it will feel like a chore and encourage failure right where we desperately need success!
You have to make sacrifices to achieve your goals.
Forming good habits are vital to achieving what the heart desires. But to do that, we must accept that sacrifices are needed to reach our goals. Whether cutting down on pub trips or take-out deliveries, you need to remove old unhealthy habits to form new healthy ones that will help you on your journey.
If you don't shake up your habits and actively try to reduce their presence in your life - or switch them for a healthier version - you risk stagnating. And stagnation makes change very difficult to achieve.
Don't go cold turkey from your bad habits!
So before you go cold turkey on your favourite things, let's take a more strategic approach. Habit formation can be tough, but if you manage to do this with your health and fitness, then it will become a journey that will actually be enjoyable!
Step One: Write down your goal(s). No matter how ambitious they may be, you have the power to achieve what the mind thinks!
Step Two: Envision your goals and ask yourself these simple questions.
If you achieve your goals;
- How would it make you feel?
- What would it feel like?
- How would it benefit your life?
- What would you do to achieve it?
These simple questions would help prepare your mind for the journey to come, thus allowing an easier transition to achieving your goals.
Don't overwhelm yourself with a sudden new routine that involves drastic change - that's not sustainable unless you commit to change, and your lifestyle can accommodate the radical changes.
To build sustainable fitness habits, you must first introduce them to your day-to-day life slowly; adding a new habit once every week or two weeks is optimal if done daily.
For example, if you're new to fitness, you could focus on forming a habit of daily walking. Set yourself weekly targets for distance and number of steps, and focus on increasing your stamina. When you don't think twice about walking home from work and are already plugging in your favourite podcast for the journey's entertainment, then you've successfully made a healthy habit and have a base level of fitness in place.
How to make a sustainable fitness habit:
So you want to break the barriers down to fitness but are potentially wondering how to make exercise a daily habit? As mentioned above, take small steps and make small changes. Once you've nailed the basics, you can build on them and incorporate them into your lifestyle.
But there's one question you need to ask yourself first when creating a workout plan: Will this be suitable for me and my goals?
Many of us search for workout plans hoping that it will distil choices down for us. Workout plans can give us a blueprint for our fitness goals, but there are many choices out there. How will you be able to tell if it's right for you?
For someone who doesn't have fitness experience and lacks the knowledge to write a plan to suit their needs and lifestyle, it can be very difficult and daunting to know where to start with fitness.
Break it down:
Firstly, think about your goal and break it down to its simplest form. Why? Because simple is best. Overcomplicating things and incorporating too much can lead you astray. Keep it nice and simple.
For generic purposes, I'm going to design an example workout plan focusing on fat loss and muscle maintenance. It's a simple plan where you would be working out 2-3 days a week for one hour at a time. It's all about being smarter about the types of workouts rather than subjecting yourself to long hours of fitness.
Lewis Paris Fitness: Example Workout Plan
Workout 1: Total Body workout with 60-70% focus towards the lower body.
Workout 2: Total Body workout with 60-70% focus towards the upper body.
Workout 3: Total Body with emphasis on HIIT, circuit training or missed body areas followed by 20-30mins worth of LISS cardio to ensure optimal fat loss.
LISS cardio is when you exercise at a steady, sustained pace over a longer duration of time. Typically, this 'steady pace' will mean exercising with your heart rate elevated to 50%–65% of your maximum heart rate.
The key point is that we're looking for simplicity and what will give us the most bang for our buck - we want to work out efficiently and avoid overwhelming our schedules!
I'm sure you're starting to understand that less is more, quality over quantity, and as time goes on, you'll understand how your body reacts to certain stimuli, thus leading you to adapt and change your plan to best suit you and your lifestyle.
Be consistent as you possibly can, and before you know it, your new habit will become second nature to you!
How much exercise is sustainable, especially for a fitness newbie?
If you're new to fitness, be aware of overtraining and DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Because you're new to the game, you're likely to experience this muscle pain.
The excitement of training can lead you to go over the guidelines of the stated plan, which is ok (it's also great to hear you're enjoying yourself!) BUT the plan is “THE PLAN” for a reason.
Overtraining has its complications, so be sure to identify any symptoms as soon as possible to avoid any further damage to your body. Here are some to look out for:
- Injury: Lack of rest and or overtraining muscles can increase your chances of injury.
- Restlessness - Inability to relax - Tension: Can cause lack of sleep which is optimal for your recovery.
- Demotivated: Doing too much can lead to an adverse reaction which may cause you to lose interest pretty quickly. And if you expect to see fitness improvements rapidly, remember that strength, flexibility, stamina and body adaptation takes time, so give it time. There are no hacks.
- Lack of Performance/Energy and Plateaus: You'll find it difficult to reach the same level of training/performance if you don't allow your body the optimal recovery time.
Just be conscious of how your body reacts to fitness when you begin for your first time. It's common to show signs of the above symptoms at some point in your journey, but problems arise when you don't listen to what your body tells you. Rest is just as beneficial as the workouts themselves.
Keep to the plan and as you get stronger and fitter, start to increase the intensity and maybe some weights to notch it up from bodyweight. Possibly look to add additional workout days with a more challenging muscle/body part split if it corresponds with your goals.
How to consistently workout at home
And lastly, home workouts. They can be instrumental when leading a busy lifestyle. They fit easily into schedules, there's no commute to a fitness venue, and you can get access to a broad spectrum of fitness instructors around the UK!
Move offers live streaming workouts from Glasgow to Brighton, and I utilise the streaming features from London to coach Move members in my classes. Check my classes out, as they will help sustainably increase your fitness and push you to greatness!
So to ensure you make home workouts fun and learn how to consistently workout at home, I've pulled together some tips:
- Train with a friend, your partner in crime… or even your worst enemy. Hold each other accountable for showing up and logging in.
- Do weekly or monthly workout challenges: Hitting a new personal best can be so motivating!
- Join a new online fitness class each week: There are an incredible amount of workouts out there - there are so many to choose from, so get stuck in and find what you love. You'll quickly figure out which exercises leave you with a spring in your step.
- Get creative with your resistance: You can pack a backpack and do the class whilst wearing it for that extra challenge, or even use tins of beans.
- Workout to your favourite songs - preferably as loud as you can (if conditions permit).
- Challenge your kids to work out with you. If they do better than you, they can choose a prize.
You got this. Form those healthy habits and integrate fitness into your everyday life - you'll soon find yourself becoming more consistent whilst edging closer to hitting your goals!
Lewis Paris Fitness
Lewis’ mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to become the greatest version of themselves! He looks to bring out the best in his clients by focusing on facilitating their growth and not forcing it. He coaches mindsets just as much as bodies to help people understand why they’re doing what they’re doing - ultimately inspiring rather than dictating change.
You can find his workouts on Move here.
Find out more about Lewis Paris Fitness!