For most gym owners, Christmas actually comes in January.
That’s when a host of people wander into facilities and purchase memberships to make good on a New Year’s resolution to get fitter, lose weight or be more active.
Gym owners sign people up for six- or 12-month contracts, collect the cash and know that most of the people will show up for about a month before they vanish. The only proof of their existence will be recurring credit card bills, or a cancellation fee.
Either way, January is a good month to be running a gym.
I’ve always believed that if you need a new year to make a commitment to being healthier, you aren’t that interested in being healthier. You’re just doing it because you feel like you should.
It’s like trying to quit smoking. Anyone who’s done it will tell you that it won’t happen until you actually want it to happen. When you really want to quit smoking, you will, and it won’t matter what the calendar says, what the doctors say or what the commercials say. You’ll just do it.
So if you’re trying to improve your health and fitness this year, the first step is to do it now. Not tomorrow. Not on Monday. Today. Do something today. Then do it the next day. Then the day after. Set a pattern.
Patterns and habits are unbelievably important. At first, making time for the gym will seem hard, and all sorts of work and social commitments come up that will give you infinite reasons to skip the gym, eat something terrible and wash it down with something worse.
If you’re starting a fitness regime, realize this: it has to be part of your life, like getting groceries, putting gas in your car or picking up the kids from daycare.
Going to the gym has to be something that occupies prime real estate on your smartphone calendar.
If you bump your training off the list, you’re a step away from quitting.
It’s easy to say, “I’m too busy,” but that’s an excuse at the top of a slippery slope to sloth.
Some of the busiest people I know make time to work out. I’m talking about doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs with multiple businesses, shift workers with side jobs and single parents with three kids and two pets.
You make time for the things you need to do, and if you want to be healthier, you need to make time to go to the gym and eat better. Don’t “find time.” You have to “make time.”
Another potential problem is a lack of results. If you aren’t seeing changes, you’re not working out properly. You can expect to see results in less than a month if you’re doing the right things.
You’re making an important decision to improve your life with fitness, so educate yourself. Read fitness books, talk to people in the gym, hit the Internet, hire a trainer or fitness professional, make a plan and re-evaluate it regularly.
Demand results, because results will keep you coming back for more.
Finally, know that no fitness program will work without a solid diet to back it up. Your car will not run on soft drinks, and neither will your body. Choose your fuel wisely.
If you’re committing to fitness, be aware that you need to commit to a good diet. That might require some research and work, but it will be worth it. Changing your diet will change your life. That is fact, not hyperbole.
But none of this matters if you’re going to put fitness off for another day. That day will become a month, which will become a year. And then you’ll find yourself back in January, making another New Year’s resolution.
If you want to be fitter in 2012, don’t wait. Do it now.
Mike Warkentin is a former sports editor at The Uniter. He is the founder of CrossFit 204 (www.crossfit204.com) and the managing editor of the CrossFit Journal (www.journal.crossfit.com).
Published in Volume 66, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 11, 2012)