Building a consistent movement practice in modern society is an extremely challenging endeavour. You need to take practical steps to ensure you can rise to the challenge and live a healthy, active life.
You find yourself living in a society that requires you to perform practically no physical activity to be a functioning adult. Yet evolutionary your body is designed to move according to how Homo Sapiens evolved. On top of that, your food system has been altered to a point that you are now more at risk from dying form having a surplus of calories rather than from having too few and a vast part of the food available to you has been produced in a factory often in a way that drives over consumption.
How are you going to proceed? This is a challenging question that the vast majority of people are either ignorant of or outright choose to ignore. How are you going to put yourself in a place where you can find physical health in this modern society?
Make the decision to answer the question. Answering this question will simplify things a great deal no matter how you answer, at least you will have an answer. If you chose that for the moment, your health is not a priority and your not going to take any action in order to improve it, at-least you have actively made this decision and you can re-assess later on. Hopefully however, you will take some steps in order to not put your physical health into a deep whole that will be very hard to get out of. Even better than that, you will try and build a healthier version of yourself.
The good news is, that building a movement practice can be one of the most rewarding challenges you take on, through it you can transform you physical health whilst also improving your mental health. The bad news is that it will require a large amount of discipline and experimentation before you arrive at a point where it becomes second nature.
Starting a new training regime is all about finding something that sticks. So starting very small will always be the best way to ensure consistency in the beginning. This might mean going on a walk once a week for some people, yes this will not be enough long term, but it means the seed of physical movement has been planted and it can grow from there. Start in a way that seems too small, almost inconsequential and then ensure the behaviour takes place. Once you have been consistent for a while then progressively make your schedule more demanding.
Hard things do not happen randomly. No one accidentally got in amazing health, wrote a book or built a business. These things require a great deal of intention. Going into as much detail as possible about the behaviour will make it far more likely to happen. So try and answer all of these questions in detail.
You need to know why you are performing the behaviour. If you are looking to get healthy because it’s what you feel like you should do rather than some form of internal motivation, the behaviour just isn’t going to stick. There are so many reasons to want to improve your health, to live a long and active life being the major one, but also things like mood, sleep and community. Before starting an endeavour, really consider why this is an important thing that you want to achieve.
When you’re going to be performing your exercise is absolutely crucial. It needs to be in your calendar, you need to accurately block out time, including the time it takes to get to and from the gym, change etc. If you do not know when the difficult behaviour is going to occur, you are making it so much less likely that it will. Never during our day do we randomly think, now is the time for a tough workout. You will need to experiment a great deal here, some times work much better than others, so find what works for you, your schedule, you’re likes and dislikes.
Where you are performing the activity also needs a lot of intention. It might seem a little ridiculous to go into this much detail, but it can really help to envisage how the behaviour is going to happen. Choosing a gym that suits what you’re looking for out of a gym is going to be really important. You need to feel comfortable and not add even more barriers to entry. If you make the decision to train at home, you need to build your space so that you enjoy your training environment. Wherever you want to train, you need to know where you’re going to do it and ensure that the environment suits you.
The amount of people that go to the gym and are so unsure about what they need to do to achieve their goal is huge. How are you supposed to be motivated to exercise if you’re not even sure if the behaviours (exercises) you are performing are moving you closer to your goals. This bit is tough, it will either require some money or some time in the form of research. You need to have some form of a plan for when you show up to the gym, you are ready to jump into a session that you believe will move you toward your goal, this will make being motivated a great deal easier than just aimlessly performing exercises your not sure work.
Move with others. This is an age old piece of advice for people looking to build an exercise habit, because it works. Other people will keep you accountable, when you’re having an off day they can be the difference between getting your training in and not. So finding others you can move with can be a very valuable thing to do for consistency, but not only that, it gives you a chance to build community and see exercise as a way to spend time with friends.
If you have a budget to make this happen, get a coach. It can transform your health and is worth it. They not only provide the knowledge required, they offer social validation and community.
The reality is that if you do not have a movement practice of any form right now, you’re first, your second and third attempt probably are not going to work. This is normal. What you need to make sure you do is that you treat it like an experiment, instead of walking away and accepting failure, try something different until eventually you find something that sticks. Good luck!
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.