With an end to lockdown on the horizon, many people will undoubtedly be chomping at the bit to get back into the gym for some "proper" training.
If, however, you've had times during this past year where you've struggled to maintain a regular training schedule and are know looking to brush off the movement cobwebs and get back into exercise, squeezing fitness back into your newly imposed routine might seem a little daunting.
So here are three tips on how to create a training schedule you can stick to:
Start slowly, with small, manageable chunks of activities you enjoy. It's far better to do a little bit of exercise and do it often than attempt to do a lot and end up doing very little.
Rather than trying to find an hour for a full gym programme, do a fifteen-minute mobility workout at home or in the office.
Rather than trying to fit in a 5k run, walk to the shops instead of driving, take the stairs instead of using the lift, walk the dog for ten minutes longer, or just run for time rather than distance.
If you only have fifteen minutes, run for fifteen minutes. If you only have ten minutes, run for ten minutes and try to run a little faster and farther each time.
Don't try to fit your time into your health plan; fit your health plan into your time, and if that means just fifteen minutes a day - fantastic! That's almost two hours a week dedicated to your health and fitness, two hours more than you were doing before, and more importantly, it starts to build a new habit.
Do Something You Enjoy
Training doesn't have to be all weights and jogging, or bodyweight circuits, or anything else that might currently fill you with dread. There are many ways to get your daily or weekly dose of exercise, and some of them can be quite enjoyable.
For me, the thought of getting into the ring for a few rounds of boxing has me as giddy as a kid on Christmas eve. Others may be looking forward to joining their gym buddies in a class or swinging about on the rings with their callisthenics chums.
Or maybe you're just looking forward to being able to go for a walk with people you haven't seen for a while. The point is, you don't necessarily have to do what you did; you just need to do what you can and what you enjoy. If you enjoy it, you'll stick to it, and you'll build on it. If you don't, you won't.
And don't compare the "now" you with the "then" you. It's not about instantly recreating the routine you had before lockdown; it's about getting started and creating a new habit.
Repeat, repeat, repeat
Following on nicely from the last tip, the key to sticking to a schedule is not willpower or discipline but rather turning it into a habit, and the way to turn any behaviour into a habit is to repeat, repeat, repeat.
Fifteen or twenty minutes of manageable activity, done every day, will soon become a habit. Those fifteen or twenty minutes that once seemed so challenging to find might become thirty or forty minutes before long.
A quick mobility workout might become a mobility, press-ups and squats routine. A brisk walk to the shops and back every lunchtime might become a twenty-minute 3k run.
A slightly longer walk with the dog might become an hour of football with the kids or weekly five-a-side with friends.
We all feel like there isn't enough time in the day to get everything done, and yet we all seem to find time for the things we are currently doing because those things have become habits.
Adding more stuff seems overwhelming, but by following implementing the first two tips and then pressing the repeat button, you can start to build new, healthy habits that become an integral part of your life.