Struggling to Get to the Gym?

8 Steps to Turning Your Fitness Resolutions into a Lifelong Habit

Sonny Kang
9 min readDec 31, 2019

It’s the beginning of the New Year and you’re motivated to get in shape so you sign up for a gym membership. You tell yourself, “This year is going to be different.” “New Year New Me,” as the saying goes. Even though your head’s in the clouds, your family and friends make fun of you and bring you straight back down to earth.

You start to wonder, “How will this year be any different?” Then you begin to think that you’re getting on the resolution bandwagon, only to give up on your short-lived fitness journey. If you’re having these thoughts, I’m here to tell you that it’s a legitimate fear.

Roughly 7 in 10 people who set fitness goals as New Year’s Resolutions give them up within the first 3 months. This is very depressing to hear, but I have some great news for you!

Going to the gym and working out is a habit. And like any habit, you can create it with an open mind and a little bit of conscious effort. Why are habits important?

Because the right habits can help you focus your two most valuable resources:

  • Your time
  • Your energy

Here are your 8 Steps to Turning Your Fitness Resolutions into a Lifelong Habit:

  1. Discover Your Why

As you know already, pursuing fitness goals can seem overwhelming and oftentimes downright discouraging. Because of these great challenges, we must approach it with the right mindset. First, begin with why you want to become fit and healthy. Do you want to have more energy throughout the day? Or do you want to feel more confident about your body?

Whatever your reason is, having a clear idea of why you do what you do will give you purpose behind your workouts. When you have a purpose, you will have the will to get through the toughest days.

Still don’t have a clear purpose? That’s not a problem as long as you understand the importance of finding your purpose. The pursuit of your purpose itself will give your journey more meaning.

After all, your purpose is something you discover through experience. Pay attention to how you feel after you complete your workouts. Ask yourself questions like: How do you feel after each workout? Do you feel accomplished? Why do you feel accomplished? Answering questions like these will help you define your purpose.

I workout at the gym so that I can have the energy to give my best to the people around me. What does being healthy and energized mean to you?

2. Create a Realistic Workout Schedule

Creating a realistic workout schedule will allow you to see how much time you have for your workouts. This leaves little room for excuses to occupy your mind, and helps you build more focus on how you can achieve your goals.

Be brutally honest yourself when you set your goals so that you can achieve them. This way you’ll accumulate more wins and feel encouraged throughout your journey.

Which days work best for your schedule? Do you prefer to do tougher workouts on the weekends or during the week? Do you enjoy workouts in the morning or in the evening? What activities can you cut out to free up your schedule?

Try answering these questions if you feel like you’re stuck when you create your schedule. Once your schedule is set, stick to it. Keeping a regular schedule is key to integrating new habits into your life.

3. Get Rid of Distractions

Even though I’ve been lifting weights for over 6 years, I am still very much affected by my environment. If I decide to train in the morning, I make sure I get enough sleep. This means no late-night TV, no phone usage in bed, and no staying out late at night. Think about how you can create a distraction-free environment.

How can you create an environment that encourages you to get more sleep? What can you do to make it easier to be ready to workout? What’s keeping you up at night? What are you worried about the most?

Creating a routine to help you wind down at night is essential to your rest. Worries are also a distraction that you need to deal with. From my personal experience, the best antidote to worry is having faith. And by faith, I mean having the belief that you can be at rest when it is time for you to rest.

Remember that your fitness journey is both a mental and a physical process. You must manage your distractions both inside and outside your mind. And as you organize your thought process, you will experience what works and what doesn’t work. These experiences will then help you create environments that are designed to help you get to your goals.

4. Be Prepared

Always prepare for what’s next. Being prepared saves you a lot of time and energy. Imagine having to look for your gym clothes in the morning and rushing your way out. That is not the way you want to start your mornings. Create a checklist for getting ready for the gym.

For me, this checklist includes:

  • Having gym clothes ready to be worn the next day
  • Having my gym bag packed
  • Going to bed at least 8 hours before my wakeup time
  • Waking up at least 30 minutes before getting to the gym

I do this because it allows me to create simple actionable steps, which brings me to my next point.

5. Create Simple Routines

I have clear, simple steps that I take to get myself to the gym in the easiest way possible.

The moment I wake up I:

  • Get out of bed immediately and make my bed
  • Brush my teeth
  • Wash my face
  • Put on my gym clothes
  • Grab my bag
  • Throw on a hat
  • Drive straight to the gym

I give myself no time to sleep-in. If I stay in bed, my mind will start filling itself with excuses like, “It’s okay, you can stay in bed, it’s only 10 minutes.” And you already know that it’s never “only 10 minutes.” 10 minutes always turns into 30 minutes, and finally, many hours.

Having simple routines will prevent you from feeling paralyzed and helpless. Knowing exactly what to do the moment you wake up gives you the confidence to move forward. This concept is the same when you actually get to the gym. You should have a clear workout plan so that you don’t waste time and feel lost when you don’t know what to do.

Think of these routines as a way to manage your time and energy. You waste both when you’re trying to figure out what to do next. When these routines become a part of your life, you get to invest more of your time into getting the results that you want.

6. Get to the Gym and Believe

At the beginning of my fitness journey, I always doubted whether I had what it takes to reach my fitness goals. My fears seemed so big at the time, but with time and effort, those same fears became smaller. Now when I look back, they almost seem silly. Whenever I hear someone say that going to the gym is impossible, it feels like I’m watching myself in the past.

Most of us have doubts about what we can do and who we can become. Why? Because it takes patience and consistent effort to convince our minds otherwise. In other words, our brains take a long time to form permanent beliefs. Lifelong beliefs form through continued actions over a long time. You form a partnership between your mind and body when you go out and do what you believe.

Our minds have a difficult time believing in something that we’ve never done. In most cases, a strong, permanent belief won’t emerge until you go out there and do what you set your mind to do.

For you, it will be to get yourself to the gym for training. The more you train, the more your mind and body will start to think, “Hey, maybe I am cut out for this gym thing.”

7. Train with Friends

When I first started weight training, I had a friend who taught me how to lift weights and kept me accountable. I understand that you may not have such a friend. But, I do encourage you to go to the gym with a friend or even make friends at the gym.

If you tend to be shy in social settings, try signing up for a fitness class. It will increase your chances of meeting someone you click with. At times, your fitness journey may seem downright difficult and lonely.

Someone once told me, “When you share your pain, it divides in half, and when you share your joy, you double it.” It’s important to have people in your life during rough patches so you can fight through it together. And it’s even more encouraging to have people in your life to celebrate your wins and milestones.

It is in our human nature to be known and loved through the good, and the bad. And our human nature certainly doesn’t change when we embark on a journey to become fit.

8. Change the Way You See Failure and Use Your Setbacks as Stepping Stones

I hate to break this to you, but in life, failure is unavoidable. During your fitness journey, there will be setbacks. There will be days when you cave in and trade going to the gym for burgers, fries, and a Coke. When this happens, the worst thing you can do is to be hard on yourself. You might hit yourself with a, “I knew I wasn’t cut out for this!” Or even a “Why did I even try?”

These depressing thoughts will discourage even the most motivated people you know. Would you like to protect yourself from negative self-talk? Then you’re going to have to change the way you see failure. Stop looking at your setbacks as an attack on your personal character. Start seeing them as learning experiences.

What caused you to cave in? Did you lose out on sleep that day because you were up watching Netflix? Or did you have a stressful day at work? Whatever your reasons are, be honest with what happened and learn from them.

Ask yourself, what can I do differently next time so that I don’t fail in the same way? When you learn from your mistakes, you only become stronger. So when you fail, you should actually be happy, because each failure is an opportunity for your growth.

Are you ready to turn your fitness resolutions into a lifelong habit? What are your fitness resolutions for 2020? Share your thoughts in the comments below!



Sonny Kang