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  • Writer's pictureShawndra Holmberg, CPO-CD

Organizing hacks for exercise success

Three pictures - yoga class with women in a yoga pose - fitness club membership card - home gym with treadmill and other equipment.  "Make the most of your gym membership (or exercise equipment).

Did you get exercise equipment for Christmas?

Did you ask Santa for a yoga class (or Zumba)?

Did you find a gym membership in your stocking?

Do you have everything you need to use it successfully this year? Here are some things you can do to increase the likelihood that it gets used.


  • Set it up permanently. Even if the equipment is made to break down for easy storage, the time it takes to set up eventually will be a great excuse to skip your exercise.

  • Make your exercise spot a destination. Make your environment welcoming, supportive and motivating. Don’t put your treadmill, exercise bike, or elliptical in the basement or out in the laundry room, unless the view draws you in each time. Some paint, posters, and other decorations can make your area a destination to enjoy.

  • Define success through smaller goals. Instead of promising to exercise for an hour every day, commit to starting out with 15 minutes three days a week or something similar. As my life coach, Carole Billingham, told me years ago – "under promise and over perform".


  • Choose something you love to do. Or try out different classes to see if both the activity and the instructor are a good fit for you.

  • Schedule it first. Enter your classes on your planner/schedule now. Schedule it for the next three months. As other appointments come up, schedule around your classes. Be sure to keep some time before and after the class as a buffer so that you can transition from one appointment to the next.

  • Set your alarm. Use your phone or an alarm clock to remind you to get ready and go to your class. If you have a tendency to lose track of time, an alarm is useful in refocusing for the next activity.


  • Grab a buddy. Having an exercise buddy can help get you to the gym, especially on those days when any excuse will do to keep you away. Accountability to someone else, as well as, the support and encouragement that a buddy provides can make the difference.

  • Take advantage of any complimentary training sessions offered. Most gyms have staff who will show you around the machines and may offer a 30-minute personal training session. Take it.

  • Make it a habit. Find a spot in your day where going to the gym makes sense for you and stick to it. Even if your original exercise plan can’t be followed because of an injury or not having enough time, modify your workout and keep going to the gym. This will build the habit of walking through those gym doors.

I got a gym membership for Christmas and was excited to get back into a routine. However, because of a chronic back problem I had to go for physical therapy (PT). For now, I’m restricted to only the PT exercises. I was worried that I’d lose my motivation if I didn't go to the gym regularly. Then I realized, I can still go to the gym (building the habit) and do my PT exercises. When I’m ready to get back on the elliptical, it won’t be much of a change — I’ll have the habit of walking through those doors. Make the most of your gym membership!

May this year bring all that you need to be healthy and happy!

Posted originally on January 2015

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