Whether you’re getting back into fitness because it’s the new year or because COVID-19 has disrupted your old routine, you may be embarking on a new set of fitness goals.

The question is, will you be able to stick to a new fitness routine, especially given how unusual our current circumstances are?

We have five methods to help you avoid roadblocks as you pursue your fitness goals. The key? Focus on you and your individual fitness level, not the latest fad, for long-term success.

1. Create a wellness calendar.

Schedule your workouts just as you would any other appointment. Take advantage of the wide array of apps and downloadable calendar templates. Or keep it simple with a traditional wall calendar.

Blocking out time for fitness is healthy for both your mind and body. Worried your hectic schedule will hinder your new fitness routine? Use your smart device or email program to set reminder alerts. If you use Google calendar, set up recurring dates, times, and goals with ease.

These reminders will help ensure you take a pause from the daily grind for much-needed self-care.

2. Set solid dates for your goals.

Now it’s time to look ahead and plan for success. It can be easy to put off exercise until tomorrow, next week, or even next month if you don’t have concrete goal dates. Setting a date helps with accountability and motivates you to stick with your new fitness routine.

However, it’s just as important to schedule realistic goal dates to avoid setting yourself up for failure. For example, training for a 5K run takes approximately seven weeks. Building muscle can take up to eight weeks.

Before circling your goal date in red, research if you’re giving yourself enough time to accomplish it. 

3. Pace yourself to avoid exercise burnout.

Have you heard the saying, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”? This statement is crucial to keep in mind as you begin your new fitness routine. Avoid exercise burnout by starting slow and choosing manageable workouts. Steer clear of feeling frustrated at your perceived lack of progress by building up gradually.

If you begin to feel unmotivated, switch up your routine. Instead of your daily 30-minute brisk walk, roll out your yoga mat for some sun salutations. Even Olympic athletes have good days and bad days. Go at your own pace and do what feels achievable for you on that particular day.

4. Embrace the (virtual) buddy system.

Hitting the gym or participating in group workouts may be impossible during this challenging time. For your new fitness routine, get creative by teaming up with a family member or friend to keep each other as energized on Day 30 of your wellness routine as Day 1. Schedule a daily or weekly check-in via a phone call, text, FaceTime, or Zoom hangout for a dose of encouragement and regular social interaction. There are also several group classes you can join online. 

Studies show that working out with a buddy helps you stay on track. In addition to family and friends, you can find your ideal virtual buddy within social media fitness groups. 

5. Track your fitness progress.

You know when to exercise and what goals to accomplish, but do you know how far you’ve come in your fitness journey? Keeping track of your exercise can help you step back and see the big picture: your dedication to caring for your body. Celebrating small successes can be highly motivating to continue your new fitness routine.

Log your progress in a journal or on your smart device. Even if walking 10,000 steps feels easy, it can be quite rewarding to look back to the beginning of your goal when you struggled to walk 3,000 steps. As you log your fitness growth, remind yourself why you’ve chosen to improve your health, and don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments.