Better shape up: turning fitness goals into reality

January inevitably means facing reality after the holiday indulgence. If improving your general fitness and losing weight are on your agenda, Sam Holmes, health and fitness manager at Team Bath, has some practical tips to help keep you on track in your fitness journey.

If you’ve indulged over Christmas but are raring to shed the pounds and shape up in January, then do beware because most gyms and fitness centres see an attendance drop of around 60–80% by mid-February. Many people set out with good intentions but the novelty soon wears off and it can be hard to maintain momentum.

Sustain your new habit and blend your fitness approach
All the behavioural psychologists say that it takes 18 days to anchor change in your daily routines – whether that’s giving up something or starting something new – and longer than that to embed them fully and make a change sustainable.

Sam Holmes, health and fitness manager at Team Bath where more than 4,000 Bathonians regularly enjoy their sport and fitness each month in the spacious gym, studios and sports facilities, says that sustaining an exercise regime means that you need to pick a type of training that is workable for you so that you don’t get bored, including elements that you can potentially mix and match each week.

“The best way to achieve your goals is to go for the blended approach,” says Sam. “More and more of our successful fitness customers tend to mix and match their gym sessions with a fitness class, a personal training session, an online class, or an outdoor activity like a good walk.”

If Covid accelerated online options at work, like Zoom or Team meetings, it also offered a whole new world of opportunity for trainers, fitness class instructors and their customers. It’s easy now to work out with a personal trainer or class instructor online. This is something that Team Bath has seen grow hugely over the past 15 months, although there is still a strong market (despite Omicron) to work out with a trainer in person to get that motivation close up.

“We’ve found that customers love working out online in our regular virtual exercise classes – we have now added yoga classes which have also proved popular. This means that people get the same energy from working out in a group, but can more easily fit it around their busy lives and schedules at home and at work,” explains Sam.

Buddy up
Research also shows that you are three times more likely to sustain your new-found sport or fitness habit if you buddy up with like-minded people. This means that exercise classes – like the 60 or so classes that take place each week led by Sam’s team at the Sports Training Village – could be a good answer for a lot of people.

“We know that people have been reluctant to enter crowded spaces to work out but we’re lucky at Team Bath as we’ve got big studios and can space people out effectively”, said Sam whose comments reflect the concerns of those who might be double- or even triple-jabbed but still worry about Covid.

The same applies in sport and fitness, it would seem, as for line-dancing or board game nights – if you have others who encourage you to take part, you’re more likely to pack your kit and join in when the time comes each week.

Short and long-term goals
Adopting goals can feel a bit hackneyed for both newbie and returning fitness wannabees. Yet the next tip is about making the difference between short and long-term goals. And these need to be realistic. So many people set out saying they want to lose an unimaginable amount of weight, often two stones or more, but, Sam advises, you need to break that goal down. It’s far better to say you want to lose six pounds in six weeks because that’s only a pound a week. It’s an attainable goal and will keep you motivated even if you know that there is a bigger end-game out there.

It’s far better to say you want to lose six pounds in six weeks because that’s an attainable goal and it will keep you motivated

Make it measurable
What’s more, says Sam, make sure you can measure your goals. It doesn’t have to be all about weight loss, it might be about shaping up so that you feel better in something you really want to wear or it might be that you want to be able to run 5k to take part in a charity challenge.

Whatever your goal, make sure you can measure your progress towards it. These days there are multiple fitness and tracking apps to help you but you can always revert to a good old pen and notepad.

Beware the gurus
If you google ‘fitness programmes’ or ‘fitness techniques’, you will get thousands of responses. Sam and his team are proud of their hard-won fitness instructing qualifications so he advises that you should beware of what you read online. “It’s important that you look at the source of the advice your search engine has served up. Does the person giving the advice have the right background to be giving you that advice? What are their qualifications? If you verify the source you could prevent negative outcomes,” says Sam.

Mix home and away
You might expect someone who runs a gym to suggest that you always work out amongst the treadmills and the free and machine weights which are the DNA of all gyms. “Not so,” says Sam. “It’s good to sustain and refresh your workouts at home or in your garden or in the great outdoors, and of course you can exercise socially too.
Variety will help your motivation. So many people now work in one location but live somewhere separate, particularly those who commute to work, so it may make sense to use the gym in the week and work out at home at the weekends or vice-versa.

Team Bath, Sports Training Village, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7AY; 01225 386339;