“I need to get back to my routine of going to the gym.”

Raise your hand if you have ever said or thought something similar to this statement.


You aren’t alone. This happens all the time.

We get into a good routine to start, and then something happens that throws us off. This is one of the most common misconceptions about exercising- that getting into a routine of exercising will lead to a habit of exercising. That our routines will help us stay exercising in the long run.

But in real life, a routine rarely becomes a habit.


The answer begins with the definition of routine itself:

rou·tine (noun): 1. a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.

A FIXED program.

FIXED. Permanent. Unchanging.

So when we perform a routine, it looks the same every time. There is no room for adaptability.

HOWEVER, as we all know, life is ever-changing. We need adaptability for our survival. 

Life constantly throws us curveballs, things that upset our regular routines. If we aren’t prepared to deal with curveballs, our routines will get interrupted indefinitely. Hence the often muttered stament mentioned above, “I need to get back to my exercise routine.”

Think about every time you have gotten into a “routine” of exercising. It probably worked a week, maybe several weeks, or even months. Until it didn’t. Something probably came up at some point that caused you to completely abandon your routine and exercise all together.

This has happened to all of us! The holidays arrive, we get sick, friends or family come to visit, there is a hurricane, etc., and we are no longer able to maintain the exact routine we had been working so hard to preserve.

So how does a routine become a habit? Routines are helpful in the beginning, but they need to be taken a level further. We need to learn to be adaptable to make exercise a sustainable habit.

We have to first understand that when life happens, it’s ok for our routines to be interrupted. We must let go of the all-or-nothing mindset, and be ok with whatever we are able to accomplish.

There are so many different ways to get your exercise in, even when life throws you a curveball. You just have to pivot or adjust accordingly.

When it comes to habits, the goal behavior gets accomplished regardless of the irregularities or obstacles life puts forth.

The holidays are often a big test for exercising habits.

The 2 biggest reasons around this time of year that cause people to abandon their exercise habits are a direct result of the inability to adapt their routines:

1. Travel.

During the holidays, there is a lot of traveling to visit families. This puts us outside of our normal environment, even without access to a gym or equipment at times. This completely throws off our normal routines. 

How to Adapt:

  • Prepare ahead of time. Pack a resistance band (~$20 on Amazon and hardly take up space in a suitcase).
  • Perform bodyweight exercises that require no equipment.
    • Examples include push-ups, squats, lunges, glute bridges, etc.
  • Search out local gyms that may have a cheap drop-in fee if you aren’t familiar with the area.

2. Time.

The holiday season is notorious for stress and business. There is baking, cooking, shopping, parties, events, catching up with families, eating, drinking, and being merry to be done in a short amount of time. 

How to Adapt:

  • Take extra laps at the mall when shopping- walking is one of the best forms of physical activity we can do, and it’s free!
    • BONUS: Add in a some squats and lunges with each lap as well.
  • Ask family or friends if you can catch up while getting in a workout together at a local gym. 
  • Shorten your workouts into circuits for maximal benefits of cardio and weight training in shorter periods of time.
    • Metcons work great for these circumstances 

These are just a few suggestions to get you thinking about adapting your workouts. There are endless options for making sure you continue with your habits, they just may look a little different than what you are used to.

Remember, something is better than nothing. Accomplishing the end goal of exercising no matter your situation is what makes it stick. That’s how you create a habit.