Skip to main content

Build Habits & Create Lasting Change in 2024: How to Keep Your New Year's Fitness Resolutions

Succeed with your New Year's resolutions when you set realistic goals , create accountability, and celebrate every step of your fitness journey.

Workouts
12 min read2023-12-21T14:29:52.189Z

With the holidays in full swing and the New Year approaching, many people are setting health goals for 2024. In fact, a whopping 91% of New Year's resolutions are fitness-related each year.

Despite this seasonal swell of motivation, few people stick with these healthy changes long term. If you want to tackle your goals this year once and for all and become a fitter, healthier version of yourself, this article is for you.

We'll tell you everything you need to know about goal setting, habit change, and finding motivation when things get tough.

The great news is that you don't need iron willpower to become fitter; you just need a solid strategy and an environment engineered for success.

The Science of Behavior Change: Why Habits Beat Discipline Every Time

When we talk about New Year's resolutions, what we're really discussing is behavior change. Changing behaviors in the long-term requires the formation of new, healthier habits to replace the habits that no longer serve us.

Many elements go into creating new habits, and if you're interested in a deep-dive on habit formation and goal setting, we wrote an in-depth guide, How to Set Fitness Goals for 2024.

The most important thing to understand if you're trying to change your behavior is that your success relies less on willpower or knowledge than your mindset, environment, and support network.

We all have a window of tolerance for mental and emotional stress. We can overcome stressful events and cope successfully if we stay within that mental threshold.

If we step outside our window of tolerance (either because life has become too stressful or we're pushing ourselves too hard, too quickly), we lose mental resilience, and our ability to follow through on desired behavior changes is compromised.

You may not think of making healthy changes as stressful, but that depends on our current emotional state and readiness for change.

When the daily stress of life overwhelms our coping mechanisms, it's much harder for our brain to free up the energy for new thoughts and behaviors.

Instead, we fall back to our default programming and rely on the habits that require the least brain power. For many of us, that means hitting the fast food window instead of cooking a healthier meal at home or skipping a workout to doom scroll mindlessly on our phones.

Building new habits can be tough, but there are proven actions and strategies that can help you build momentum and stay on track all year.

Get our fitness newsletter

Stay on track with your fitness goals and get inspired! Sign up for the GymBird newsletter for twice-monthly expert fitness and nutrition tips.

Expert Fitness Advice from Chris Hemsworth’s Trainer

The best practices in this guide work for everyone, from stay-at-home parents to A-list movie stars. We all struggle with our fitness goals sometimes, and even the god of thunder needs a little help from his friends.

We spoke with Luke Zocchi, Chris Hemsworth's personal trainer and lead coach of his fitness platform, Centr. The duo launched the Centr app after years of working together to build Hemsworth's famous physique for his various films.

Hemsworth's physical transformations for his movie roles have been a constant topic of conversation on promotion circuits and red carpets. So, he was inspired to share the secrets of his training and diet with the world.

Zocchi and Hemsworth collaborated with the best global fitness, nutrition, and mindfulness experts and created the Centr fitness app. Centr promises to put world-class coaching resources and workouts in the palm of your hand.

Zocchi took a break from coaching celebrities to share his tips for setting goals and his strategies that help his clients succeed all year.

15 Actions That Will Help You Keep Your Fitness Resolutions in 2024 and Beyond

When you set out to make a healthy change to your fitness routine next month, try incorporating these steps into your process and see what changes.

In my experience as a personal trainer, people who fail to achieve their New Year's resolutions are not lacking in drive or ability; they simply did not drill down deep enough to establish goals with meaning and engineer their environment for success.

Remember that movement is a gift, and any step toward your goal–no matter how small–is a victory to be celebrated.

1. Approach the Process with Curiosity

When we approach the New Year, we often focus on the negative: what we want to change about ourselves or things we want to eliminate from our lives. When we approach our behaviors through this lens, it sets us up to engage in self-judgment and negative self-talk.

It's clear that cruelty isn't an effective ingredient in the behavior change recipe. Instead, pretend that you're a scientist and you're starting an experiment. Get curious about your deeper motivation for wanting to change and where those motivations came from.

Ask yourself: "Why do I want to achieve this goal? What does it mean to me?"

As you move through the process, record notes on how you feel and track your progress. When we approach our health with curiosity and compassion, it's much easier to assess how things are working and address them as needed without engaging in a shame spiral.

2. Set Realistic Goals and Break Them Down

According to Luke Zocchi, personal trainer to the stars, "How you break down and structure your goal is key."

Choosing an initial end goal is actually just the start of building an exercise program. How you break up that goal into a specific and structured program is the real magic.

Whether you want to train for a sporting competition, change your body composition, or work out every week, you will have to practice many smaller habits and actions to achieve it.

The best way to do this is by breaking down your goal into smaller process goals.

For example, if you want to run a 5k and have never run before, start with brisk walking daily. From there, you can add a few days a week where you alternate between jogging and walking. Eventually, you can start dialing in on your running pace when you can run continuously.

Sticking to your New Year's resolutions is much less about the goal itself and far more about the steps you take to achieve it. It's especially crucial to set realistic timeframes.

Zocchi has mixed feelings about hyper-ambitious goal setting, saying, "On the one hand, setting unrealistic goals can set you up for failure. But on the other hand, if you reach for the stars and go far and achieve a lot–is that really a bad goal?"

It comes down to your expectations and mindset. Having lofty ambitions is great. They can provide motivation and the fire to keep training, but you must maintain mental flexibility around them.

Pushing out your timeline is never a failure. It's just a needed adjustment, which we all must do at times. Practice non-judgment and focus on all the other benefits exercise provides you in the short term.

3. Display Goals Prominently

Once you've lasered in on your goal and broken it down into smaller, more achievable process goals, write it down and post it somewhere you'll see it daily.

Research from the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine has consistently shown that we are far likelier to succeed by writing down our goals and re-reading them frequently.

4. Focus on the Basics

Setting goals can be fun, but you don't need to reinvent the wheel regarding your fitness resolution. Focus on the basics of quality movement:

  1. Perform exercises with proper form.
  2. Focus on getting a mix of cardiovascular exercise and strength training.
  3. Focus on compound lifts that target many muscle groups simultaneously.
  4. Find movement that you enjoy. The best workout program in the world isn't helpful if you never do it.

5. Create Accountability

Accountability in fitness means you're sharing the responsibility of your fitness journey with someone else, and it's super important for most people.

I can count on one hand the number of clients I've had throughout the years who had adequate and consistent intrinsic motivation to work out by themselves all the time.

Hiring a coach is the most obvious example of creating accountability around your fitness goals. Whether in-person or online, having an experienced professional to guide your workouts and support you emotionally can be life-changing. But you can find accountability without 1:1 coaching.

You can choose a workout partner at your gym, join a fitness class or exercise group, or even start an accountability text thread with your friends.

What matters is that you have someone who cares about you and your fitness goal to check in and support you when things get tough.

6. Find Community

Another step you can take to support your fitness resolution is finding a fit community.

Personal trainer Zocchi believes that finding community is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a fit lifestyle, and it's something he prioritizes in his own life.

"Finding like-minded people is essential,” Zocchi said. “Surround yourself with the right people, and they will keep you accountable."

Tell your friends and family about your new fitness goal and invite them to support your efforts. You may just inspire them to start a health journey of their own.

7. Find the Joy of Self-Care

Focusing on goals, metrics, and strategies can make fitness sound like a science project or a work assignment. If you love collecting data and comparing the efficacy of different interventions, more power to you.

If you don't love exercise or don't have a positive relationship with your body, the idea of working out can feel fraught. I encourage you to pause and remember why you chose this goal. What was your deeper meaning for starting this journey?

Moving our bodies is the highest form of self-care, and it's important to remember that you deserve to be cared for. Your body deserves nourishment. And movement should be joyful. If you haven't found a form of exercise you enjoy yet, keep trying!

There are endless ways to move your body.

8. Leverage External Motivators

While it's crucial you delve into the deeper motivations behind your fitness resolution, adding an external motivator to keep you on track can also be helpful.

Chris Hemsworth’s personal trainer Luke Zocchi took that advice this year, and it's been a very positive experience for him, even as an experienced athlete.

"This year, I completed my first marathon and competed in a HYROX competition," Zocchi said. "Fitness is my profession, and even I have found a huge difference in my training intensity and adherence when I decided to train for an event."

For some of us, that external motivator is our job.

"Chris [Hemsworth] gets his motivation from his movie roles. Being on camera is a huge push for him, and he uses that to set ambitious fitness goals," said personal trainer Zocchi.

You don't have to compete in anything that intense to harness the power of external motivation. You can start a friendly competition with your gym partner, join a challenge, or even schedule a photo shoot. Check out Chris's popular fitness app Centr to jumpstart your fitness journey.

Centr logo

Centr

Best for strength training workouts

The Centr app has three main sections: Train, Eat, and Live. This comprehensive wellness approach is what makes Centr unique compared to many other fitness apps.

  • Train, Eat, and Live Sections for holistic approach

  • Self-Guided and Coached workouts

  • Extended Routines with Centr Guided Programs

9. Focus on Addition, Not Subtraction

Positive framing is a crucial mental magic trick you can use to fuel your behavior change, and it's so simple to use.

When setting your New Year's resolutions, focus first on adding behaviors you want to adopt instead of removing ones you'd like to stop.

By focusing on habit addition, you will build your confidence and trust in yourself. It's much easier to tackle tougher challenges once you've proven you're capable of change.

10. Track Your Progress

By tracking your progress, you are not only giving yourself an additional layer of accountability, but you're also collecting precious data you can use to assess your process.

Review your fitness data and re-evaluate your interventions every few months.

What's working well? What isn't? What does that tell you?

Review the data without judgment and complete objectivity and allow it to guide your plan.

11. Don't Rely on Motivation

So many clients I've coached throughout the years waste time waiting for motivation to hit them, like an arrow from Cupid. When the fittest people on earth—from professional athletes to coaching professionals—know that motivation follows action.

Get moving, regardless of how you feel, –and it will become easier to do so the next time. Act first, and the motivation will follow.

12. Use Technology

There are more fitness and online coaching solutions than ever before available at affordable price points. Apps like Centr offer thousands of workouts and nutrition programs written by experienced professionals and have an active online community where you'll find other people on similar fitness journeys.

Whether it's a fitness app, an online coaching service, or a smart home gym solution, you can leverage technology to help you achieve your fitness goals in the new year.

13. Plan Ahead

Engineer your environment so that the healthy choice is the easiest one to make. Lay out your sneakers and pack your gym bag the night before, food prep a few healthy meal options heading into the week, look up restaurant options ahead of time and make a suggestion that has lighter fare.

So much of becoming a fit and healthy person for life involves changing the story you tell about yourself and making the choice today that you will be thankful for in the future.

By planning ahead, you remove the pressure on yourself to rely on willpower alone and significantly increase the likelihood you'll stick with the plan.

14. Celebrate the Inevitably of Change

If I could sum up this life in a single phrase, it would be: change is the only constant. From birth, we embark on a rollercoaster of transitions and tumult, but also joy, connection, and beauty. The same rule applies to our bodies.

The way we look, feel, and function is constantly in flux. You can choose to celebrate the process of change, aging, and growth today. Find joy in small self-care habits, and relish how these actions make you feel.

15. Don't Put Too Much Pressure On Yourself

In our hyper-competitive, self-development-obsessed society, it's easy to feel pressured to change… and quickly!

Setting fitness goals for ourselves can be empowering, but be sure to practice acceptance throughout the process and observe gratitude for everything your body can do right now. After all, if we're not having fun, what's the point?

Our Favorite App to Help With Your New Year's Resolutions: Centr

The Centr app is one of our favorite fitness apps, as it offers workout programs, nutrition guidance, and mindfulness content all in one place.

If you workout at home and want to add resistance training to your programming, Centr now offers high-quality, affordable equipment options such as adjustable dumbbells, traditional weight sets, and complete fitness kits.

Check out our favorite Centr workouts and stay tuned for their latest program, Centr Circuit Elevate, which is dropping just in time for the New Year on January 1, 2024.

Centr logo

Centr

Best for well-rounded fitness

The Centr app has three main sections: Train, Eat, and Live. This comprehensive wellness approach is what makes Centr unique compared to many other fitness apps.

  • Train, Eat, and Live Sections for holistic approach

  • Self-Guided and Coached workouts

  • Extended Routines with Centr Guided Programs

Bottom Line

To keep your New Year's resolutions, you must develop new habits and processes to keep you on track. Approach your resolution with curiosity and set realistic goals grounded in a deeper motivation.

Create accountability by working with a coach or sharing your goals with a friend, and seek out community with like-minded people who will support your fitness journey.

Remember that life is short, and movement is a gift, so try to find joy and prioritize movement types you love.

New Year's Fitness Resolution FAQs

What strategies can I use for staying motivated when working out alone at home?

Establishing accountability and finding community when exercising at home is super important. While home workouts are convenient, they can be isolating if you enjoy connecting with other like-minded people.

Try fitness apps that offer live classes, work with an online fitness coach, or invite a friend to work out. You can also join an online community and swap experiences with other people on similar fitness journeys.

How can I integrate workouts into my routine if I have an erratic schedule?

The best strategy for committing to an exercise program when you have a busy schedule is to plan ahead and remove choice from the equation. Put your gym bag in the car when you go to work, and head straight there after your day ends. Refrain from relying on motivation or willpower when you're tired or stressed.

How can I maintain my New Year's fitness resolutions when facing unexpected life events?

Life happens, and we all get off track at times. The only thing that separates those who succeed at making fitness a lifestyle from those who don't, is fit people get right back on track as soon as possible.

Skip the guilt and return to working out as soon as possible. By giving yourself compassion and grace, you'll save precious brain energy and avoid toxic all-or-nothing thinking.

Resources

Planet Fitness National Survey. New Year's Resolutions.
American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. Goal Setting and Action Planning for Health Behavior Change.