Okay, I admit it: That title was clickbait. The VD in question here is Valentine’s Day, and the 90 percent refers to the number of new gym members who stop going by Feb. 14. It’s a statistical truth that only a tiny fraction of members actually go to their gym. Gyms bank on this. If everyone actually showed up, it’d be a train wreck. Gyms oversell their capacity, specifically because they know you have only a 10 percent chance of showing up.

Your resolutions are important. You made them, because you know you need to improve. It doesn’t really matter what the resolution is, you made it, because you felt it was something that could help you live a happier life. If that resolution was to exercise more, I want you to keep it up. You must, must, must create new habits by way of repetition. I won’t lie: Repetition can become deadly. Especially with exercise, it can be incredibly daunting.

But wait, I have some ideas! Yay! What do they all have in common? They take the pressure off of you trying to go it alone. Wherever possible, make sure you have some source of accountability, especially if you know you won’t have enduring discipline within yourself.

Gym Buddy

Make it a one-on-one situation where someone is there waiting to grow with you. Perhaps this person is more experienced, but it’s just as likely as not that they’re starting on the same level you are. Either way, having a buddy with you not only reduces your risk of flaking out (unless you’re just that rude about wasting other people’s time), it can also reduce the intimidation or anxiety new members often feel. Gymtimidation is real, and I absolutely do not want other people’s progress or attitudes undermining your own. Find a friend who will go with you! It can be frustrating to find someone willing and reliable, but you both stand to gain significantly.

Group Class

So you can’t find or don’t want a gym buddy. Consider a whole room of potential buddies. If you like crowds, the energy and dedication of other people can be very exhilarating and motivating. It can also be distracting or discouraging, so shop around a bit before you commit. Make sure you’ve found the right activity, the right level, the right location, the right instructor and the right community. If you’re gonna do it, do it right. (Thank you, George Michael.)

Personal Trainer

This is like a gym buddy but better (at least I think so). Once you find the trainer you like (ahem), that person will show up reliably, and you will be working with someone who can help you identify your goals. A good trainer will give you the motivation you need to make safe progress, so be sure that their style and personality meshes with you. One of the most important reasons to have a trainer is accountability. Someone is there waiting for you, so you better show up. Also, I charge my clients for the session if they don’t give me proper notice to cancel. I mean, if you want to pay me to sit around checking email and watching cat videos, that’s on you.


Oh, yes. Your inner voice. Here it is. People who journal are nearly twice as likely to meet their goals by their deadlines. Why? Because your journal will never lie to you. Use it consistently. If you feel you haven’t gotten anywhere, look at your journal. It will remind you specifically how far you’ve come. Conversely, if you don’t do your sessions, your empty journal will remind you of that, too. It will say everything by saying nothing at all. One way or another, a journal is one of the single most effective strategies for success. I cannot recommend it enough. Keep. A. Journal.

Goals and Rewards on Social Media

This is rather like an online version of the group class. There are hundreds of options for you to consider, and you can become involved in the type of camaraderie and accountability that comes from groups without having to be present with them. If you know you will do your workouts, but that you risk getting bored or losing focus, consider joining a virtual community where people post their progress. Some people find that very engaging. Personally, I don’t care for all this social media obsession, but I’m an old geezer, and you can get off my lawn.

Ultimately, you will have to invest time and energy in committing to a new pattern. I’ve seen it said that making a permanent change requires anywhere from 30-100 repetitions (depending on the author). Will you prioritize your resolution 30-100 times? Be honest. If you can do it, perfect! If you cannot, find the encouragement and accountability that will press you until you are consistent enough to press yourself. Happy new year to you: I sincerely hope that you will meet and exceed all your hopes and expectations! Now, let’s get you past the VD hump.

Jack Kirven completed the MFA in Dance at UCLA, and earned certification as a personal trainer through NASM. His wellness philosophy is founded upon integrated lifestyles as opposed to isolated workouts. Visit him at jackkirven.com and INTEGRE8Twellness.com.