Updated 22 April 2014

Kick-start your fitness plan

So you have decided to hit the gym and get healthy again - but you want immediate results and its difficult making the time. Here's how to make a plan.


So you have decided to hit the gym and get healthy again - but you want immediate results and its difficult making the time. According to Darren Jacobson (head of product at Virgin Active South Africa), it’s all about having the right plan in place.

"After the holidays, many people want to lose weight and get healthy. Unfortunately most people also give up after a few weeks because they don’t know where to start, or start without a plan and end up de-motivated when they don’t see the results after one week."

To ensure you stay on track, Darren offers some practical advice to keep you motivated in 2011:

  • Set realistic goals: Base your goals on your current health status and not where you last ended your training. After the holidays it can be a struggle trying to get back into a fitness regime or you’re performing at a lower level then last year. Setting these realistic goals will help you achieve them.
  • Start slowly, adjust and adapt:Try not to do too much at first and remember to rest between workout days. Your body gets stronger with rest. Also ensure you’re eating properly as good nutrition in conjunction with exercise goes a long way.
  • Commit to a quarterly challenge: Concentrate on building on the smaller process goals to achieve the bigger outcome. Reward yourself after every goal reached, which will give you something to look forward to.
  • Train with a friend or challenge a colleague: Train with someone that has similar goals or use a challenge to keep you both motivated.
  • Time your training: If you are not a morning person don't put yourself through the pain of dragging yourself to the gym before work. Increase your training days gradually, if you are currently training twice a week aim to increase where possible. Avoid committing to six days a week and then feeling de-motivated when you don’t get around to it.
  • Try group exercises: Working in groups has been proven to increase compliance so identify a group exercise class that works for you, like Zumba, and put on those dancing shoes.
  • Dump despondency: It is not the end of the world if you miss a day of training or spoil your diet.  We all make mistakes, just get back on track as soon as possible.
  • Ask an expert: Speak to a fitness instructor, personal trainer or informed friend or colleague when planning your programme. Join a programme that focuses on your individual needs.
  • Visualise achieving your goal: Create a strong mental image of what that moment will feel, smell and taste like - there is no greater motivation.
  • If you move, you improve: Not everything needs to happen in a health club,use clever tricks at home or at work to increase your energy expenditure. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or ditching the trolley and carrying your shopping bags to your car parked far from the entrance to the mall are just two easy changes to make in your routine.

"Remember, it’s all about a balanced lifestyle, keep moving, get enough rest and eat healthy," he says. 

For more information on Virgin Active or how to get started, visit or call 0860 200 911.

Image: Shutterstock

Read more:
Home gym fails
Finding the fittest athlete


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Gut health »

Can't lose weight? Blame it on your gut

Our nutrition experts weigh in on why gut health is such an important factor in weight loss, on World Obesity Day.

Sleep better »

Yes, there is such a thing as too much sleep

A new study confirms that too little sleep can impair your brain, but interestingly, too much sleep is also a problem.