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How grueling fitness challenges end up killing consistency

The first month of the year is ripe with intense fitness challenges that typically involve incredibly difficult, daily workouts meant to kickstart your new active lifestyle and keep you consistent with movement well past January.

These programs are not only tempting, especially as we come out of the holiday season with many people unhappy with their eating and exercise habits, but also very trendy: the "75 Hard" challenge has remained a popular program since it's conception in 2019, and many gyms still push January fitness challenges as a method to attract and retain new members.

The irony however is that programs like 75 Hard and other fitness challenges actually end up making our exercise consistency worse, not better. If someone actually *does* complete the challenge of working out every single day (or in the case of 75 Hard, twice a day!), it's likely that their exercise consistency a few months down the road will be just the same if not worse than before they started the challenge.

Why does this happen? Consistency is most likely to occur when you are engaging in a movement routine that is realistic for both your current fitness level and lifestyle, and involves activities that you actually enjoy doing. Many fitness challenges boast workouts that are much too difficult and time-intensive for people just starting off, and often include "no pain no gain" type exercises that people expect will get them the quickest results - not exactly joyful movement. Not to mention the hit your confidence takes when you are unable to complete a fitness challenge, leading many people to believe that exercise isn't for them, and give up on fitness altogether.

So what's a better way to actually improve your exercise consistency in 2024? It's not quite as flashy, but a slow and sustainable approach is the name of the game here. Because the further away something is from your current lifestyle, the less likely you will be to stick with it long-term.

My best advice is to start off gently with shorter and less frequent workouts that realistically fit into your life right now. Bonus points if it's a type of movement you actually want to do, or might want to do, opposed to whatever the current hot fitness trend is. And once that feels manageable, only then should you increase workout time and frequency.

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