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Starting a new fitness program? Avoid the 5 most common mistakes.

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Starting a new fitness program? Avoid the 5 most common mistakes.

[fear-based decision making and false economies of time]

Is there a more determined and excited human being than the one about to start a new fitness program?

When you’re feeling particularly low about your body, the most appealing thing in the world is planning a fitness overhaul. It usually occurs on a Sunday night after a wayward weekend (or few weeks), and involves grand promises to ‘be strict’, stick with it, and finally sculpt the body of your dreams (with a sizzling after photo to match).

While positive change is a beautiful thing, some change can take you in the wrong direction altogether.

Making decisions based on fear (i.e freaking out that you’re fast becoming a feeble and flabby blob) can lead to cloudy thinking and ‘fitness fails’, the kind that see you lose and gain the same 10kgs over and over, eventually eroding your confidence.

In a state of desperation to fix your body fast, every extreme measure or fad program looks appealing - the harder the better, because that’s what you need to get out of your current state of blergh.

But is it?

We regularly see people who have spent years or even decades trying out new gyms, bootcamps, diets and various attempts to ‘be perfect’. Often, they yo-yo between super strict and super lax with their health and fitness, resulting is near-constant anxiety and self-flagellation, weight fluctuations, injuries and demoralisation.

Finally, they arrive at our studio wanting to start again from scratch - without the extreme mindset or self-recrimination. (Or, they need to rehab injuries that can no longer be ignored). The fear-based fitness programs are no longer working, and they’re ready to adopt a holistic, positive, sustainable approach that brings their body back into balance - even if that means playing the long game.

To all of us living in a modern world obsessed with instant-gratification, choosing something that takes longer (even if it makes sense intellectually) is a very tough thing to do. As a fellow human being - and a fallible one at that - I totally get it. It’s scary to step away from ‘what everyone else is doing’ and tune into what’s best for you.

But eventually, everyone starts to question the validity of fitness ‘overhauls’ that only ever work for short periods of time, leaving you the same (or worse!) than before. It becomes painfully clear that this process of extremes, fluctuating motivation and shotgun fitness is futile - a way of satisfying our egos in the short term, but harmful over time. The only ones who benefit are those reaping the spoils of our collective insecurity, like gyms with a bunch of idle memberships. Great business model, that.

So, the next time you (or someone you care about) is considering a brand new fitness plan, avoid these five common mistakes that almost always lead to despair.


Taking up anything with a ‘30-day’, ‘8-week’ or gimmicky promise about big results in a short time-frame. You may very well get results, but will your habits, lifestyle and values fundamentally change? Is this regime sustainable? For every (extreme) action, expect an equal and opposite reaction. Hello, rebound.


Getting all swept up in motivation, rather than making a cool, calm commitment. Motivation is an emotional state, and you can count on it to change. What’s better is a sensible, enjoyable and highly-personalised plan that you can stick to - no matter how ho-hum you feel on the day.


Thinking you can stop once you reach your goal - whether that’s performance or fat loss. Nope. That stuff requires constant and ongoing maintenance, so you better pick healthy activities you’ll like… forever!


Setting purely superficial goals. Danger! Danger! It’s risky to tie your happiness and success to how you look, because no-one’s getting any younger here - and there’s so much more to life. We’re all entitled to feel good about ourselves and comfy in our skin, but ‘doing fitness’ purely for aesthetic purposes de-prioritises more important things like your quality of life, stress management, vitality and longevity. Better to set empowering fitness goals that also give you inner strength and radiance.


Not being choosy about your personal trainer. There are trainers and there are trainers. Some have only spent a few months gaining their certificate, which is great for counting reps, but not so crash-hot for understanding complex physiology and how real people respond in an imperfect world. Many personal trainers aren’t specialists, just accountability buddies - which can certainly serve a purpose, but is worrisome when it comes to workshopping your finer mechanical and emotional quirks. If you’re seeking a fitness solution that sticks, make it together with an experienced professional.

So, if you’re wondering how to get out of a fitness funk and into a fitness groove - give yourself a moment to look at the bigger picture. Take fear out of the equation and be honest with yourself. Will that extreme plan to run 10km every day really work this time? Is that 12-week bootcamp actually going to get you closer to your goals - or is it a false economy of time - something that ends up taking more time due to ineffectiveness, lack of sustainability and possible injury?

Remember, your body is yours for life. Treat it with kindness. Invest in it. Take small, consistent steps towards your goals and don't settle for anything less than fun along the way.



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To your health,

Michael Wilson


Senior Exercise Practitioner

Holistic Health & Nutritional Coach

Manual Therapist

Functional Movement Specialist

Rehab Trainer

Posture Trainer

Personal Trainer


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