Posted January 31st, 2024

Whilst January is a time to look forward, sometimes we need to look back. The start of a new year symbolises ambition and goal setting, but the past can determine our present and influence our future. We’re all aware of the importance of physical and mental health but getting started and staying consistent to see results is not easy, especially when past experiences influence our mindset, self-belief and progression.

Thinking about your own fitness goals, what’s holding you back? Even the Managing Director of the Thames Club here in Staines, Peter, harbours bad memories of swimming as a child. The freezing pool in winter, the cold walk back to school and austere teachers are still vivid in his mind. However, this hasn’t stopped him from building a career in the fitness industry, enjoying workouts himself and managing a premier club (with a pool!) where local people can improve their fitness and wellbeing.

Could you be avoiding activities because of negative experiences or memories? Only you know this, and only you can reframe your mindset to find a fitness activity you’ll enjoy long-term. We’ve asked some of our members about their personal story. Amrita has been doing hot yoga for four years and, as a new mum, has regained her fitness, her ‘happy’ and body confidence in just nine months. Nav is a regular at EGYM, initially driven by weight loss goals, and now enjoying an active lifestyle and better diet – eight stone lighter.

New year, new outlook. It’s time to think differently about your fitness.

School: worst days of your life?
A survey by Mind revealed that more than half of women (57%) do not participate in sport because they were not good at PE at school. Unfortunately, negative experiences such as being mocked, forced to take part, or shouted at, can put people off activity for decades, and even passed down generations. You can’t change the past, but you can move on: reconnect with your physicality, actually enjoy exercise, and get fitter and get healthier. You’re not at school now, you’re in control and there are no rules or pressure. The only ‘teachers’ you encounter at an inclusive gym are the nurturing and enthusiastic type! It’s encouraging to know that positive experiences of physical activity can lead to a lifelong love of fitness – it’s not too late.

“I was worried about the mirrors in the hot yoga studio as I had low body confidence, but once you’re in the hot room everyone focuses on themselves and their practice. It isn’t a thing to worry about.” Amrita

Discover your vibe and tribe
It’s ok to admit you don’t enjoy working out… as long as you do something about it. A Freeletics poll of 2,000 people who frequently exercise found that half don’t work out as much as they’d like to simply because they don’t enjoy it. Out of these, 38% percent said it’s because they repeat the same routines, and 28% don’t know how to mix it up with new or different routines. The solution? Sample hot yoga, book a PT session (challenge your PT to make it fun), discover Reformer Pilates, book an EGYM induction, try all the classes, until you find what makes you buzz.

“I feel so much better and energised throughout the day after EGYM. Sometimes the hardest part is getting started, but once I’m here I never regret it!” Nav

For the magic to happen, move your body in a way that feels good – that could be dancing, lifting weights, boxing, swimming or sweating in the yoga studio. You’ll rarely meet someone who looks forward to sit-ups, but there are plenty of members who revel in a Reformer Pilates core session, because of the class atmosphere and delivery. Reframe exercise as movement, mobility, deep stretching, self-care, strength building, mindfulness, de-stressing, liberation, me-time.

“If I’m ever having a low day, I know once I’ve been to hot yoga it gives me the boost needed to lift me up.” Amrita

For ‘gymotivation’, options like EGYM keep you engaged as it’s so personalised. Your sessions (and the machines) adjust as you get stronger and fitter. It can become a good addiction, and your membership will be an investment, not a waste.

“I was worried I’d lack ability and consistency, but the EGYM community has been great, making my gym time enjoyable. The guidance and support from the team has really helped me get back into the gym and stay consistent.” Nav

A common excuse for delaying getting fit or active is not feeling body-ready. Remember, the point of going to the gym, yoga, reformer Pilates or pool is to become a better you (fitter, more flexible, more mobile or more confident). There are no prerequisites. Finding a beginner’s class or Hot Yoga workshop might help you take or retake that important step.

“During pregnancy I put on around 16kg. To reach my weight loss goals I knew I had to be consistent in attending classes to eventually see the results. By doing hot yoga, I’ve lost over 20kg. Going back to my pre-baby body within months has given me body confidence.”  Amrita

Surround yourself with positivity

The words ‘exercise’ and ‘workout’ incite effort – perhaps even hardship. If you’ve always viewed fitness as a chore or task to tick off, flip this on its head. Think about the privilege of being able to move freely and getting that physical and mental high from whatever activities you choose. Try to reframe fitness as something you are fortunate to be able to weave into your life, rather than an arduous task in the way.

Members cite the club as their sanctuary, because it’s a place to escape to, meet others and share experiences. It provides headspace, a place to unwind and stretch yourself (literally).

“Regarding mental health benefits, I found that coming to classes during my maternity leave allowed me timeout to myself which has made me feel happy, relaxed and productive. I am so proud of exceeding my weight loss goals after having my baby.” Amrita

This new year, think about the past to move forward. Nav’s top tip is simple: “No one is going to do this for you, but YOU!”.