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Health & Science

How To Keep Your New Year's Fitness Resolution

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And finally today, you know you've heard those ads. You might even have succumbed to one of them. I'm talking about the big push for new gym memberships. It's usually right now. And that's because getting fit is one of the most common New Year's resolutions. But this year, many gyms are closed because of the pandemic. So what are the alternatives for people who are resolved to get fit in 2021? We reached out to Jennipher Walters for some ideas. She is a certified personal trainer and health coach, and she also co-hosts the "Fit Bottomed Girls" podcast.

Jennipher Walters, welcome. Thank you for joining us.

JENNIPHER WALTERS: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: So, first of all, how has this experience been for you? You know, quarantining, and I know you've got little ones at home. How has this experience been for you - just doing your thing, trying to stay fit and keep up with your clients and so forth during all this?

WALTERS: Oh, goodness. It has been something, you know? I think, like everyone, our lives have just been completely switched around. And, you know, you used to kind of maybe have some sort of semblance of control over your day or your schedule, and now things just are so different. I used to love to go to the gym, and that was, like, my social time. And I had, you know, mom friends. And, you know, I had other people to kind of help push me and to run on a workout harder and try harder and try new things.

And now it's, like, OK, you know, kind of a one-woman show a little bit. I have actually been, like, designing my own workouts at home. And we turned our garage, which only had junk in it and yard stuff anyway - we turned that into a gym, so now I'm able to go there and work out. And in some ways, it's been - I don't know - kind of - there has been some benefits, as much as I do miss going to the gym. There's been some benefits for, like, me and my husband to go out and get creative.

MARTIN: Let's talk a bit more about that. Like, how - what are some things that people can do to maintain their fitness if they can't go to the gym? Or maybe they are afraid to go to the gym right now. I mean, that is the case for some - some people feel it just isn't the safest environment because it's a closed environment because there's - you know, people are sweating, and it's hard to social distance even if their gyms are open. So what are some ideas for maintaining that fitness if you can't or don't want to go to a gym?

WALTERS: So I think now is actually a really, really interesting and great time to not just look at workouts as a way to get fit but as a way to give yourself self-care. So if you are really stressed out, then use that as a reason to maybe look for something that's a little bit more relaxing in a workout.

So, you know, invest in a yoga mat and try - there's a gazillion and a, you know, half apps and websites and YouTube channels and stuff. You know, try some yoga. You don't need that much space. It's a good feel-good activity. Maybe look at doing some high-intensity workouts, whether it's with dumbbells, whether it's body weight exercises, going for a run.

I like to get out of my house, and I do sprints. I just find a set distance between, you know, like, two telephone poles or a couple houses or somewhere else on a trail. And I will just run that sprint, rest, you know, for 20 or 30 seconds and run that sprint again and just kind of tire myself out and then get a really, really big mood boost from that, really. And then I kind of feel like, oh, my gosh. You know, I went out and ran real hard. And then I'm proud of myself for the day.

MARTIN: Let's talk about the motivation problem. As we mentioned, in a typical year, new gym memberships will peak in January. But the data shows that by February, most people abandon their workout plans and stop coming to the gym. So what are some of the ways that you can stick with a fitness plan?

And you just mentioned yourself that a lot of people, one of the reasons people like going to the gym is that it kind of helps keep them motivated. Maybe they sort of develop a community there. Like, there's a bunch of people that they know are going to be there, and if they're not there, they'll say, hey, where were you, you know? (Laughter).

WALTERS: Right.

MARTIN: So if you're at home and working at home, can you think about some ways to keep that motivation up?

WALTERS: The No. 1 thing always is to really connect to your reason why you want to be fit. If you're just kind of going through the motions and working out because you should or because someone kind of told you, that's not really a spark that, like, keeps you going after January, you know? You need something a little bit deeper. So think about why you deserve to be healthy. Think about all the different ways you can begin to appreciate and understand how working out actually benefits you beyond just your physical appearance.

So start paying attention after your workout. Like, how much better do you feel after your workout? How much more productive are you after your workout? Do you have better ideas for work? Are you more creative? Are you more engaged with your kids and more mindful of just your life? Like, really start to pay attention to how your workouts actually change you and benefit you. And then celebrate yourself. Like, every single time you work out, you know, pat yourself on the back. Give yourself your own high-five.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

WALTERS: Be really proud that you did it. And continue to set goals and get creative and try new things. There are - especially now with all of the apps and some of the technology out there, you can try, like, any sort of workout you ever wanted to before from the comfort of your own home, basically. So try different things, you know, that you're not going to be, you know, great or the ability to do any dance move or different things without...

MARTIN: (Laughter).

WALTERS: ...A little bit of practice. So give yourself grace. Give yourself ease. Try a bunch of stuff. Stick with the stuff that you enjoy because inevitably, you will do something if you enjoy it.

MARTIN: Jennipher Walters is a personal trainer and co-host of the "Fit Bottomed Girls" podcast. We reached her at her home in Kansas City, Mo.

Jennipher Walters, thank you so much for joining us. And Happy New Year.

WALTERS: Thanks. Happy New Year to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARK MORRISON'S "RETURN OF THE MACK") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.