How to keep working out when New Year’s resolutions fade

Shannon Yager, a certified fitness instructor at Planet Fitness in Bartlett, demonstrates how to do the abdominal crunch. Photo by Carolyn Bahm.

Shannon Yager, a certified fitness instructor at Planet Fitness in Bartlett, demonstrates how to do the abdominal crunch. Photo by Carolyn Bahm.

Health and fitness goals are perennial chart-toppers on most people’s New Year’s resolutions list, and it’s around this time each year that good intentions falter. According to, nearly three-fourths of people surveyed said they typically make it through just the first week with their resolutions. Compliance drops off to 58.4 percent after one month.

So how’s a well-intentioned person to keep going?

Rick Marburger, regional manager for Planet Fitness, speaks from personal and professional experience when he says better health and fitness are within reach. In a recent interview at his company's Bartlett gym (5740 Stage Road), he explained that persistence is more important than perfection.'He went from 305 lbs. in high school to a trim normal weight, but he had to adjust his expectations and stretch his patience.

“I had to get past that point of expecting instantaneous results,” he said, talking about years of effort and how it took him a while to realize that pounds don’t equal happiness.

He joked about his own wishful thinking at first. “I felt like I was going to wake up in about a week and be 30 lbs. lighter.”

Organization helps, he advised. “Treat your workouts and New Year’s resolutions like you do other areas of your life: Keep it organized.”

He also said that workouts are just one part of a fit person’s lifestyle. “The gym is just part of it. What you do outside of it is important as well.”

With the fresh crop of new faces in the gym every January, he is familiar with the struggles that people face. He has commonsense advice from his years of experience:

  • Find a place where you can exercise or be active without being mocked or held to an unreasonable standard. He’s proud of his company’s policy that it’s a “judgment-free zone.” That atmosphere makes it more comfortable for gym-goers to focus on the workout without self-consciousness and to feel more confident about reaching out to trainers or fellow exercisers. People who don't like working out at the gym won't come back, he said, but workouts become a place for community if there’s a welcoming, friendly atmosphere. Marburger said, “We want you to not only engage with the trainer, but also with other members.”
  • Be kind to yourself and don’t expect perfection. The first time you blow a diet or fail to show up at the gym, don’t write off the week, month or year—just start again the next day. “One day in the gym is one more than you had before,” he reminded.
  • Set small goals.
  • Don’t be discouraged if progress is slow. Progress can mean the loss of weight or inches, but it can also mean being able to do an exercise longer, quicker, at a more difficult level or simply doing the exercise with more assurance and competence. Marburger suggests that people track their progress for about four to six weeks and then readjust their workouts if needed. Adjust, don’t quit. “The hardest part is walking in the front door,” he said.
  • Compare your progress to yourself as an individual, not to other people.
  • Dismiss age as a barrier to fitness. Marburger said, “I see 60-plus people who could run circles around me.”
  • Stay accountable and build fitness into your regular routine. For some people, that may mean finding a workout partner or simply going to a gym on certain days every week. It also can mean talking with a trainer for advice on a home fitness routine for those horribly busy days when you just can’t make it to a fitness class or a gym workout.
  • Talk to your trainer about setting up a varied workout routine of upper body, lower body and cardio rather than trying to do an exhausting routine of every exercise every day.
  • Have fun. Despite the “work” of a workout, it can be enjoyable when you keep the workouts fresh with variety, new music, new activities or other options. Try something new if you’re not sure where to start or if you’re in a bit of a rut. Take a class in some physical activity you love or take a class for tips on fine-tuning your workout plan for a particular body area. “People fall off their New Year’s resolutions because they’re not excited or happy,” Marburger said.

Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or