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What are the top 5 January fitness mistakes and how can I avoid them?

With the hectic Christmas period behind us, many of us are feeling inspired to hit the gym and get back to eating vegetables.

It’s natural and healthy to want to increase your activity and improve your diet after a period of excess, but how you approach it makes all the difference.

The below are some of the most common pitfalls I see in the January season having worked as a personal trainer for over ten years.


  1. A guilty mindset
  2. As we spoke about in our Christmas blog, we need to accept that the festive season is a part of life like any other. It’s there to be enjoyed, a rare chance for us to turn off and relax with friends and family. Just like in life, your fitness journey will have natural fluctuations and ups and downs and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that. If you go into January feeling as if you need to punish yourself for those extra mince pies, you’re on a one way path to an unsustainable approach, “failure” in your own mind, and an overall miserable start to the year.

    1. Doing too much, too soon

    Often a result of feeling “guilty” and a drive to “compensate” for the month of December. Aiming to hit the gym every day of the week when you don’t already have a similar routine in place will cause you an immense amount of extra stress every day – and even if you do manage this goal, you’re at an increased risk of injury. Paired with a sudden and extreme calorie deficit you’ll likely experience fatigue, body aches and decreased mental performance. Many people are put off fitness for the rest of the year remembering how miserable they were in January when they tried to do everything at once.

    1. Signing up for the gym, if you know you don’t like gyms

    Many people, especially beginners, simply don’t enjoy a gym like environment. If you are already slightly intimidated by the idea of a busy gym, then I would advise you don’t try to start going in January – it will be at its most hectic at this time of the year, with queues for the equipment in some city gyms. This kind of experience could again add more unnecessary stress to your day and put you off continuing with it for the rest of the year. For beginners, I would always advise consulting an experienced fitness practitioner to start with – they can work alongside you to find what you enjoy, what kind of things your body responds well to, and overall help increase your confidence so you can walk into the weights section or group class with pride in the future.

    1. Choosing something just because it worked for somebody else

    Not only are all our bodies very different, but our mentalities are too. Time and time again I see people attempting to get into activities because they saw their friend lost weight in this way. Don’t take up long distance running in January if you know you hate being out in the cold or get bored easily. Don’t take up Barry’s Bootcamp if you know you don’t enjoy the intense military style environment, just because your friend loves it. Many men enjoy the competitive aspect of intermittent fasting or very low carb diets, but women often find this kind of restriction harder due to fluctuating hormones. There really is an effective fitness solution for everyone – don’t be disheartened if your friend’s doesn’t work for you.

    1. Repeating the same thing and expecting different results

    This one sounds obvious, but it really is amazing how often I see it. As we saw in our New Year Resolutions blog, many clients come to me having tried and failed at the same goal every year, often repeating the same approach having forgotten how it ended the previous January. If this sounds like you, don’t just try something different, but examine the goal and how realistic it is. There’s plenty of advice in our New Year blog, but the best way to break through a fitness plateau is by consulting a qualified fitness practitioner.