To many people, the New Year season means a fresh start, with everyone seemingly enveloped by newness and change. Anything seems possible at this time of year, as the fireworks and horns usher in the clean slate that everyone looks forward to.
A New Year’s resolution that many have in common is hitting the gym and getting into shape—the perfect way to end a week-long stretch of eating to one’s heart’s content. Though the turn of the year can give people that extra motivational push to get up and do things they have been intending to, going to the gym to get fit and healthy is a resolution many struggle to stay on track with throughout the rest of the year.
Martin Orendain, a third-year Interdisciplinary Studies student from Ateneo de Manila University, has always included going to the gym as a New Year’s resolution. “Fitness is something that I want to fully commit myself to as a goal to improve my own health,” he affirms.
It’s often during the holiday season, when one is taking a long break from school, that a newfound surge of motivation to go to the gym strikes. However, as the time to return to school comes along—with a bevy of tasks dumped into the schedule—Martin finds that same motivation tends to fade pretty fast. “I’ve always been one to put physical fitness off as something that I can eventually do in the future, [thereby] using my circumstances or lack of time as an excuse,” he admits.
When a pile of responsibilities come at once, prioritizing fitness can become harder to follow through on. “Factors such as time constraints, financial resources, and energy conservation affect the success of [trying to be fit],” discusses Adonis*, a second-year Occupational Therapy student from the University of Santo Tomas, citing his own example of dealing with a packed schedule. “Being a student of a highly-demanding [pre-medical] program while leading various organizations, you couldn’t blame me if physical fitness is not at the top of my priority chart.”
Despite vain attempts from the past, both students remain hopeful to turn things around in the coming year. The two have come up with new plans, such as withdrawing from irrelevant duties and obligations, systematizing their schedules, and forming a stricter habit to go to the gym routinely. “This endeavor is not just to look good, but also to be able to truly live,” Adonis specifies reasons for again striving to attain his fitness goals.
“Building commitment is a lifelong process whose end result is success,” Martin expresses optimistically as he further recognizes that past failed attempts can still be put into use. “Those times allowed me to progress and optimize the way I train in order to find the methods that suit me best.”
Day by day, month by month
“It’s always a good thing to decide to start being fit. Staying fit is even better,” says Ian Lee, a private fitness trainer who previously worked at F.I.S.T. Gym and who knows all too well the influx of new gym patrons that the turn of the year tends to bring.
For training regimens, he starts by classifying new clients into fitness levels so that he can gauge his approach and aptly adjust to their respective needs. Usually, people following their New Year’s resolutions fall into “level one”, otherwise known as the beginner level.
“I don’t interfere with level one clients’ daily habits; I only give options. Once they find out that these changes make them feel better, they soon build [good habits],” Ian explains. He also makes sure to give beginners verbal cues that they can follow, which he identifies as a key difference as compared to more seasoned gym-goers.
Additionally, to keep his clients motivated, Ian advises them to track their progress in terms of the weight of the training equipment, such as dumbbells and weight plates, or the amount of repetitions they do, so that they always have a standard to improve upon. “Fitness is not a fling…we’re not always in the mood for [fitness], but we still have to give a conscious effort to make it work,” he declares, noting that physical fitness requires a great deal of devotion
Even though many newcomers rarely continue their training after January, Ian remains optimistic about the idea of people at least trying to change their lifestyle, knowing as well that there will be those who would pick up the habit for the long run. As he expresses, “Out of 100 newbies starting, a small percentage of those will continue to build a habit, and that is always a good thing.”
Habit turned lifestyle
There are some who say it is easier to start something than it is to finish it. It’s one thing to go to the gym at the beginning of the year, but it’s another to continue on throughout the succeeding months.
Whether it is a New Year’s resolution or a goal one suddenly sets out to do on any other day of the year, going to the gym consistently requires a great deal of deep-seated motivation and physical commitment. Aside from a remarkable amount of physical exertion, achieving one’s fitness goals usually also yields some added benefits, such as a healthy diet, a freed-up time slot in one’s schedule, and most importantly, an unwaveringly focused mindset. It may not be easy at all to hold oneself to such a commitment, but it is worth giving it a try—opening up a new chance to make a change or two.
*Names with asterisks (*) are pseudonyms.