The only thing harder than getting yourself to go to the gym is getting yourself to go back. I always feel so accomplished when I make it to the gym for the first time in a while, but that's usually followed by this dreaded feeling that I'll just fall back into old habits. After all, when you're the only one holding yourself accountable, it's much easier to make excuses.
This year, I committed to finally breaking this cycle and getting myself to the gym three days a week, every week — but I knew that in order to accomplish this, I'd have to try something new. Enter the "check-in" system. I had noticed this trend on Instagram — people in my feed would post pictures and videos of their workouts, then tag a few friends with a simple caption: "check-in." Essentially, these groups were functioning as accountability partners. Sometimes they checked in from the gym. Other times, someone would post from a hike or a quick walk while running to get food.
After months of watching others document their workouts, a friend and I decided to give it a try, though less publicly. Instead of posting to Instagram, we agreed to send each other a Snapchat after completing a workout. It started out as a way to get in better shape for spring break, but once we realised how great it felt to stay active, it became more about staying healthy than reaching any specific goal. We eventually looped in another friend, and we've been at it for a solid two months.
The first few weeks were fun and low pressure. We'd often go to the gym together, which we discovered wasn't super productive; as fun as it is to work out with friends, it's easy to get distracted and neglect to get in a really effective workout. As time went on, we fell into our own workout routines, while still checking in with each other three days a week. We're constantly cheering each other on, sending along fitness inspiration and workouts to try, or complimenting each other on our progress.
It's made my fitness journey so much more meaningful, knowing that I have people with a shared purpose in my corner, rooting me on.
On days I feel too tired or busy to work out, I'm super grateful to get a snap from one of my friends at the gym; it reminds me of the commitment we've made not only to ourselves, but also to each other, to take care of our bodies. When someone misses a day, we first ask if she's OK, then encourage her to get back on schedule ASAP. In that way, these check-ins are equal parts tough love and validation — we keep each other on task, while celebrating each other's successes. Above all, we encourage each other to meet our fitness goals, while serving as a constant reminder that we are more than our bodies.
If you're struggling to keep a consistent workout routine, you might try the check-in system for yourself. It's made my fitness journey so much more meaningful, knowing that I have people with a shared purpose in my corner, rooting me on.