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How to Make Fitness a Habit

Make working out second-nature

Date March 19, 2021
Author Patrick Wong
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Consistency is key when it comes to fitness, but just getting to the point of being consistent can be a challenge all in and of itself.

“Fitness doesn’t happen to you, you choose to make it happen for yourself,” Tempo’s Head Coach, Melissa Boyd, said. “And getting started — changing into the right clothes, putting on the right shoes, and knowing what you’re going to do — is oftentimes the hardest part.”

Building the Habit

There’s a popular notion that it takes 21 days to build a habit. However, there isn’t great evidence to back this up.

Making something habitual means that it becomes second nature, that you don’t need to think about it to make it happen.

If you’re used to waking up every morning and rolling over in bed to check your phone, that’s a habit (and if this sounds like you, we’d wager that it didn’t take you three full weeks to get into the habit of doing this). If you’re waking up every morning and thinking about checking your phone or getting up to make some coffee, then it’s not a habit. Habits don’t require a ton of forethought.

So when it comes to fitness, it’s all about making it feel as if working out is not a special occasion that has you planning far ahead and weighing the pros and cons of doing it.

Building a successful habit means making it simple, removing barriers, and making it rewarding.

Fitness as a Habit

Let’s tackle the first ingredient of a recipe for a successful habit: simplicity.

Make your fitness routine feel as simple as possible. That could mean for every weekday, you’ll commit to waking up at 7am and going for a 30-minute run. On weekends, you’ll sleep in but go to a longer workout class. It’s much easier to commit to waking up and doing something active than saying you’ll wake up, have coffee, check your emails, and then go for a workout.

Your daily fitness goal shouldn’t have any fluff and there shouldn’t be any deviation — decide on a daily routine that fits your lifestyle and your schedule. If you’re not a morning person and are going to hit the snooze button (and make a habit of it) until you don’t have time for a workout, then schedule your workouts for the evening.

Second, make the barrier to entry low for your daily fitness regimen. The night before you go to bed, lay out your workout clothes and have a bottle of water already filled and chilled so that there’s fewer steps to take to getting your workout in.

Of course, just getting your workout in is easier said than done, especially for athletes who are beginners and aren’t sure how and when to train. Consider keeping a training diary, or if you are Tempo member, you can rely on My Plan, Tempo’s customized workout planner that will recommend classes based on your goals and scheduled on days that you list as your preference.

Third, build a community.

“There is power in a group.” Dr. Joel French, Tempo’s Head of Exercise said. “Consider sharing your goals with others so they can support you and keep you accountable and you can do the same for them.”

If you’re looking for community and accountability partners, the Tempo community is a steadily growing place for members to share tips, encouragement, and advice.

Your daily fitness goal shouldn’t have any fluff and there shouldn’t be any deviation — decide on a daily routine that fits your lifestyle and your schedule.

And finally, make your habit rewarding. For a lot of us, the idea of breathing hard while sweating through our clothes doesn’t immediately sound appealing, however, there are ways to really celebrate the little wins that are associated with forming a new habit.

“Find rewarding aspects of your workout that you can focus on daily. Maybe it’s a delicious drink that you enjoy during your workout,” Dr. French suggested. “Or what about treating yourself to a reward right after your workout like watching your favorite TV show or even a long-term reward like going on a trip for fulfilling a workout goal over a few months?”

This isn’t to say it’s easy. The habits you currently have, counter-productive to fitness or not, were learned likely because they were easy and were immediately pleasurable. Just ask your couch why it’s so much more appealing than lacing up your running shoes.

So take time with this. While it may not take 21 days to form a habit, it still takes time, and it’s okay to take it day by day.

Making Fitness Your Habit

Building a fitness habit is made even easier when you take out the guesswork and make it feel even more automated.

Tempo’s My Plan feature addresses each of the key ingredients to a successful habit by getting to know you and providing you with the tools to make fitness, well, all about you.

Tempo athletes onboard with My Plan, which means Tempo will get to know about your personal fitness goals — whether it’s to get stronger, get leaner, or improve performance — the days of the week you prefer to train, how long per day you want to train, and how many days per week you want to train.

After that, My Plan provides you with a bespoke workout schedule for the entire week, week by week. You simply need to check the Tempo iOS app to see what’s planned for you, maybe a heavy lower body day, or maybe you have well-earned rest day. Tempo will let you know.

You don’t need to plan out when you’ll train, what you’ll train, or even why you train. My Plan has you covered. Oh and if you’re wondering about that rewarding part of the habit, My Plan will make sure to celebrate every win of the way, whether that’s congratulating you on a hitting your weekly workout goal or simply getting your workout in for the day (and that’s on top of how awesome you're going to feel after each workout.

Tempo athlete or not, your next habit can start tomorrow.

Author Patrick Wong
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