In need of a fitness reset? Here’s how to do it, according to PTs

The kids have gone back to school and summer holidays feel like they were an age ago, but as we move through autumn, there’s never been a better time to have a fitness reset, argues Anna Bartter.

There’s something about September. No matter how long it’s been since I left school, I still get major new year vibes when autumn rolls around. I can’t resist the lure of new stationery, and nothing makes me more excited than getting organised.

As well as enjoying the first few pages of a new academic planner, this time of year is also a great time to reset those health and fitness goals. With most of us back in a routine after a summer of holidays, festivals and a few more cocktails than usual, it’s the perfect opportunity to take stock of where you are, physically and mentally, and work out what you want from the rest of the year.

I’m far from being the only person who feels like autumn is the best time of year for having a fitness reset. Fitness expert and founder of Made On Demand Penny Weston tells Stylist: “We see a huge influx of people wanting to reset their health and fitness resolutions in September. People tend to relax over the summer – going on holiday, taking time off work away from their regular routine – and by the end of the summer, they feel unfit, unhealthy and lacking the structure that many of us thrive on. 

“Many people find that their bodies and minds are missing the focus that exercise and eating well bring.” 

How to have a fitness reset this month

I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, preferring to make a change when I feel that it’s needed, but a September reset gives me all the feels. But where to start? We’re bombarded with so much information, from smoothies to squats, here’s what to do to really make a difference.

Start with small, achievable habits

Life coach and wellness specialist Nic Henderson recommends starting small: “We sometimes think that a lot needs to change in order to make a difference, when in fact little changes can add up to massive ones. Small steps in the right direction act like a snowball, picking up momentum as they roll, so start by asking yourself: ‘What’s the smallest thing I can do right now to make a change in my life?’”

Less is sometimes more: think going for a short walk before work or drinking a glass of water as soon as you wake up. I find that having a decent breakfast really sets me up for a good day, energy and health-wise, so that’s the first thing I reinstate come September. If I start the day well, I tend to carry on in the same way.  

Set realistic goals

It’s important to be realistic when thinking about how to make a change. As with those January intentions, if you’re trying to commit to something that doesn’t suit your lifestyle or energy, you’re setting yourself up to fail. 

“A workout doesn’t have to mean running for hours or lifting huge weights in the gym,” says Weston. “Don’t try to run a marathon if you’ve never run before, as you’ll likely get injured and give up. By being realistic with your goals, planning an exercise programme that takes into account your fitness levels and strengths, you can improve over time and are more likely to stick with it.”

Carve out (non-negotiable) time to move

And here’s where the new stationery comes in: you have to make time in your day for exercise. If you’re committed to improving your fitness, you are going to need to set time aside to work out. 

Weston agrees: “We all have hectic lifestyles, so the key to maintaining an exercise regime is to make sure we can fit it into our day. Set time aside specifically for working out. I prefer to exercise in the morning, before my day gets overloaded. It sets me up for the day and helps me get into a positive mindset.” 

Move in time with your circadian rhythm

You might want to consider the seasonal shift here too. The arrival of autumn brings shorter days, affecting our natural circadian rhythm and changing the times and ways we like to exercise. You might love a dewy morning run in the summer, but setting your alarm to go off in the pitch dark takes Herculean resolve.

This is where self-discipline comes into play. As Henderson says: “The secret to keeping up good habits is being able to engage discipline when your motivation is running low. Motivation won’t always be there; it will come and go, but your resolve can remain.”

In September, there’s less pressure to succeed

The good news about choosing September to shake things up is there’s none of the pressure and expectation that comes with announcing a new year’s resolution. You’re doing this purely for yourself, so if you want to keep it to yourself, you can. That being said, I love to combine my classes with a friend, so we have the opportunity to catch up while working out. Win-win.

And it’s not just your physical health that will benefit. A seasonal reboot is great from a wellness perspective too

“A September reset is beneficial both physically and mentally,” says Weston. “Being fit will improve your immune system and help to fight off illness and injury as we approach the winter months. Mentally, a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a balanced, nutritious diet will aid your mental health – especially important at this time of year, when the darker evenings and shorter days can negatively impact a lot of people.”

And if you’re still struggling to get motivated? Why not walk or jog to the shops for a fresh new pen and diary, and book in a small change to start? 

Images: Getty

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