Advice for new gym-goers: Stick with it at least 21 days

Michelle Basch,

OWINGS, Md. — If you’re joining a gym with the goal of losing weight in the new year, a fitness expert has some advice for you.

Roxie Hinton, a personal trainer at World Gym locations in Calvert County, says it takes about 21 days to form a new habit.

Don’t try to do too much too soon at the gym, Hinton advises.

“Give yourself a commitment of two days a week, or three days a week.”

She says if you start off trying to work out five days a week and simultaneously change all your eating habits, you’ll be less likely to succeed.

Unfortunately, many people have an “all or nothing” attitude toward exercise and nutrition.

“If you mess up one day, don’t let the whole day go to waste,” she says.

If you want results that last, take it slow. Hinton says it is possible to drop 10 pounds in one month, but you’ll likely just gain it all back.

“We’re looking for long-term goals to be maintained. So we always say, you know, about a pound a week.”

Another mistake is obsessing over the numbers on the scale. Because muscle is denser than fat, you may actually gain weight as you get in shape.

“I have clients that I had to tell, ‘Please don’t weigh yourself every morning because that scale is going to fluctuate,'” says Hinton.

The annual January flush of new gym members eager to fulfill New Year’s resolutions can be hard for longtime members to handle.

“I’m glad to see that they’re here but it does get frustrating because it’s so crowded,” says Bea, a member at the Owing’s location.

Jim, another regular in Owing’s, says he’s seen new members push themselves too hard.

“You can’t do this in 90 days. It’s a lifelong maintenance program,” he says.

Hinton says teaming up with a gym buddy improves your chances of sticking with your program, and that’s exactly what Bea does.

“I work out with my daughter. She and I meet up here every day after work,” she says.

“After you’ve been in here an hour or an hour and a half working out, you just feel really great when you leave here. You feel energetic (and) motivated,” says Bea.

Here’s the website for the World Gym Owings location.

Follow Michelle and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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