British Columbia

Want to get fit this year? 5 tips for making a routine that sticks

Setting realistic, attainable goals — and doing something you love — is the key to success, says YWCA trainer.

Setting realistic, attainable goals — and doing something you enjoy — are key to success, says YWCA trainer

Jill Metheral of the YWCA Health and Fitness Centre in Vancouver performs a lunge with an exercise ball. Metheral says the most common mistakes she sees new fitness enthusiasts make are creating unattainable goals and overtraining. (Gavin Fisher/CBC)

For many people, the new year means making the commitment to get in shape or improve one's fitness.

But making that a habit and not falling off the wagon are the real challenges.

There are simple steps that fresh fitness enthusiasts can do to make sure they stick to their resolution, said Jill Metheral, manager of aquatics and land fitness at the YWCA Health and Fitness Centre in Vancouver.

Here are Metheral's five new year's fitness tips:

1. Set attainable goals

Metheral said a common mistake people make when they decide to get into shape is setting the bar "way too high".

"A lot of people start off and they set out a goal to do, cardio five days a week for example, and that will peter out and that won't last for a month," she said.

YWCA fitness manager Jill Metheral suggests that people find an activity that they enjoy doing to motivate them to keep coming back. (Getty Images/Hero Images)

"The point is to set realistic goals, maybe cardio once or twice a week to start off, muscular strength once a week, and do a yoga class on the weekend.

"So nothing too serious but make sure it's something you can attain and you can achieve."

2. Go with a friend

"A good idea too is to do workouts with a friend, make sure that friend is accountable to you, you're accountable to them, so you will come … and then you'll make that goal stick."

3. Do something you love

There are workout classes and fitness regimes that cater to all different types of interests, Metheral said. She suggests people pick something that suits them.

"They say it takes approximately three months for a habit to be created, and so you want to make sure it's something that you love," she said.

"You're not going to do something that you hate for three months."

4. Vary your workouts

"You don't want to get used to one thing. Your body can get used to one exercise and then essentially the body can't grow. You don't want to always just do cardio, just do weights. Cross-training is essential for your body to progress [and] for injury prevention, illness prevention," Metheral said.

Metheral uses "sliders" while holding onto an exercise trampoline to do leg lunges. She suggests those who want to start a new fitness regime pick a class or workout activity that they enjoy in order to attain their goals. (Gavin Fisher/CBC)

"And you always want to have that recovery period. Muscular endurance takes 72 hours, muscular strength takes approximately 24 hours, and cardio — your heart — takes 12 hours to recover. So all of these time frames should allow you to maybe do a yoga class instead of a high intensity class."

5. Don't overtrain

This is one of the most common mistakes people make, Metheral said.

"A lot of people join and they just set the bar way too high. They come in, the want to do a class every single day. They want to do two classes a day, and what happens is the body starts to regress, and you regress in your training," she said.

"You can overtrain in a sense, and you can start feeling like your body just doesn't even want to get out of bed anymore. And that's the last thing you want, especially when you have a goal set in mind.

"So start slow, start realistic, and make sure that it's attainable. That's the biggest thing."

With files from CBC Radio's The Early Edition and Gavin Fisher