Mathematician creates a formula to help Brits stick to their fitness plans

Going to bed no later than 9.44pm, telling someone else about your plans – and packing your gym gear two-and-a-half hours in advance are among the best ways to ensure you don’t back out of exercising, a study has found.

Having three sets of exercise clothes, taking two days off a week and going to the gym first thing in the morning to ‘get it out of the way’ are other tips people swear by to stick with their fitness plans.

The poll of 2,000 adults found 54 per cent of people reckon they need to exercise more often than they currently do, with a lack of time (44 per cent), motivation (43 per cent) and money (18 per cent) named as the biggest barriers.

But 37 per cent struggle more during January than at any other time of the year, with 56 per cent putting it down to the dark mornings and evenings making it harder to get going.

Andy Birch, Product and Fitness Director at health club group Virgin Active, which commissioned the research said: “One of the most important things when it comes to exercising is being motivated – if you aren’t, it can be easy to find any little excuse to talk yourself out of going.

“We all know January can be the hardest time of year to get yourself motivated thanks to the Christmas hangover, the short, dark days and the cold weather.

“One of the best ways to do this is to find a workout that works for you. Whether that’s classes, gym, swim or a mixture of all three.

“When you’re engaged with your workout, you’re more likely to remain committed to keeping fit and being a healthier you.

“Make 2018 the year you feel magnificent – and your year of no excuses.”

On the back of the findings, Virgin Active has worked with mathematician Dr Andrea Baronchelli from City University of London to create a formula to help people get motivated this January and prevent them from backing out of their gym plans at the last minute.

The equation factors in the number of gym buddies you have, how far in advance you prepare your fitness gear, the delay between finishing work and working out and even the temperature.

Maximise(B2 + DtBAG + 1/Dtgym-office + 1/(G-<G> +1) + T)

B: number of gym buddies; having 2 buddies is more than twice as effective as having one, hence the square.

DtBAG: lag between when you prepare the bag and when you go to the gym: the earlier you prepare your bag the larger this quantity

1/Dtgym-office: minimise the time between gym and office, in the morning or in the evening (maximize the inverse of this time)

1/(G-<G> +1): G is the goal, expressed in days per week. It needs to be as close as possible to your average gym days per week; i.e., it is important not to set impossible goals

T: temperature: stay warm so that cold will not stop you

Dr Andrea Baronchelli said: “Reviewing the data, it was clear that components such as the harsh weather, being more organised and working out with a friend all impacted the British public’s motivation levels.

“Therefore, we playfully combined them into a formula to create the perfect January.”

The study also found that 55 per cent of gym goers who reckon they are good at sticking with their plans swear by going to bed early to make sure they aren’t too tired.

They also tell at least one person of their plans so it’s harder to back out and have three different sets of fitness clothes, so they always have something to wear.

Other tips include leaving two days between sessions and heading to the gym straight from the office, so you don’t have a chance to sit down.

Thirty-eight per cent also find it easier to exercise with a friend – as it means you’ll be letting them down if you pull out of plans.

But eight in ten admit to coming up with an excuse to get out of exercising, with being too tired the most popular.

Others avoid going to the gym because it’s too hot or cold, they have a hangover or have been left to go alone by a friend they usually go with.

‘It’s the weekend’, ‘my gym kit is still dirty’ and ‘my battery has died so I can’t listen to music’ are other excuses people use to explain their absence at the gym.

To help people stick to their fitness goals throughout January Hannah Davies, Master Personal Trainer at Virgin Active Aldersgate, shares her top tips to enhance any workout:

1. Fit it into your lifestyle: Whether that’s setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier and getting your workout in first thing or using your lunch break to burn off those calories. Make sure you plan it into your day, so you can stick to it. Be time efficient and train smart, not long

2. Make it social: Grab a friend and train together, or join a team or group and become part of a community where you can be accountable, be pushed and socialise with like-minded people

3. Invest in yourself: Get a trainer that is experienced and will tailor your sessions to you and your goals

4. Start with small changes: Setting yourself one thing to change each week is much more manageable and will lead to long term changes without feeling too overwhelming

Virgin Active is offering twelve-month membership with nothing to pay until February including no joining fee, valid until Wednesday 17th January.

The #NoExcuses online offer grants new members nationwide access to Virgin Active’s revolutionary gym floor, up to 120 innovative classes per week, pool, steam and sauna facilities.

Top 20 gym excuses

1. I’m too tired (53 per cent)

2. I don’t have enough time (29 per cent)

3. It’s too hot or cold (25 per cent)

4. I’ve got too much to do at home (22 per cent)

5. I’m not feeling 100 per cent and I don’t want to make it worse (18 per cent)

6. I’ll just go another day (16 per cent)

7. I’m injured (13 per cent)

8. I’ve got a headache (10 per cent)

9. I’m hungover (9 per cent)

10. I did a lot of walking today so I don’t need to exercise as well (9 per cent)

11. My friend isn’t going so I have to go alone (8 per cent)

12. I’ve been good with my diet today so I don’t need to exercise (7 per cent)

13. It’s the weekend (7 per cent)

14. It’s my birthday (7 per cent)

15. I’m worried about my appearance (6 per cent)

16. My gym kit is still dirty (6 per cent)

17. I need to go out afterwards and won’t have time to shower/get ready (6 per cent)

18. The gym is going to be busy (6 per cent)

19. I’ve already been once this week (5 per cent)

20. The traffic is bad (4 per cent)

Top ten barriers to going to the gym more often

1. A lack of time (44 per cent)

2. I can’t be bothered (26 per cent)

3. A lack of money (18 per cent)

4. I find it difficult to stay motivated and keep up with a routine (17 per cent)

5. Something else always takes priority (17 per cent)

6. Work always ends up busy (10 per cent)

7. I’ve not got anyone to go with (10 per cent)

8. I don’t really know what I’m doing (8 per cent)

9. I find the gym intimidating at first (7 per cent)

10. The gym is always too busy (7 per cent)

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