Staying Motivated on Your Fitness Journey: Tips to Overcome Plateaus and Setbacks

Staying Motivated on Your Fitness Journey: Tips to Overcome Plateaus and Setbacks

By Marc Penna

At the end of the day, we are all human. You, your echelon friends, your instructors, and even your non-echelon friends and family (What are they waiting for?!) We are bombarded with all aspects of daily life and non-stop distractions and sometimes those obstacles can interfere with our motivation to workout. Or maybe the motivation is there, but the time we need to set aside for exercise is not. (24 hours a day is simply not enough some days!) Well, have no fear! Staying motivated and overcoming plateaus and setbacks is all part of the roller coaster of health and fitness, because after all, if it was just a steady and consistent climb upwards, what fun would that be?

Let’s start by talking about time. The beautiful thing about the Echelon platform is that you have class lengths to fit whatever your schedule may look like on any given day. Do you only have a quick 10 minutes between meetings to sweat it out? Great! We have ten minute classes! No plans and want to keep yourself busy for 2 hours? Easy, we have a class (or several back to back) to help you with that. While we often feel like we don’t have enough time in our days to connect, stride, row, or reflect, the truth is that it really comes down to time management. The biggest advice I can give is “What gets scheduled, gets done” Just as you may have meetings on your calendar, or you know the kids have to get to school at 8:00am, it’s on your schedule and it’s non-negotiable. Can we create that same system for our workouts? Take a look at your schedule and see where you can hard schedule your workouts. It doesn’t have to be a full one hour time slot every day, it can be three 20 minute time slots, or maybe just a quick 30. But physically write (or type) it into your calendar, don’t allow yourself to push it back or start late, and treat it the same as a meeting with your boss, or an obligation with your partner or child. Do you want to take it one step further? The night before, instead of doom scrolling on social media until you fall asleep, you can scroll through the echelon app and actually hand select the exact classes you want to take the next day. That way when the time comes for your scheduled workout, you aren’t wasting precious seconds searching for a class when you could be sweating it out instead!

Maybe the time is there, your schedule is flexible, but you have found yourself struggling to pull away from whatever you’re doing to get your booty into a class. My extroverts probably already know this, but for the introverts who may enjoy working out in the quiet and solitude of your own home, an accountability partner goes a long way! A little socializing never hurt nobody. What if you knew someone was waiting for you, and even RELYING on you to join them for a class. When you feel the lack of motivation start to sink in, I urge you to not only hard schedule your workouts, but schedule them with a friend, or even a stranger! Probably one of the most alluring things about the Echelon platform is the community. Not only is there the Official Echelon facebook group, but there are many other additional groups and challenges that you can be a part of. You can invite a friend or family member over and do some fitpass. Or I have seen posts “Doing Hills 20 at 6am tomorrow. Who wants to join me?” which is an easy way find a bunch of new friends in the community to keep you motivated to keep showing up. Not knowing anyone else with an echelon account is no longer an excuse. Find someone to be YOUR motivation to take a class, and be THEIR motivation to join you. 

We haven’t talked about plateaus yet which is a very real and very challenging hurdle to overcome. With that being said, it’s something that you are capable of pushing through if you have the motivation to take yourself to the next level (the tips from the previous two paragraphs are great ways to find that motivation). If you aren’t aware of what exactly a plateau in fitness is let me paint the scene. Our body wants to overcome the stress (the workouts) we put it under, so during the repair process, it tries to grow stronger than before in order to handle the workouts we endure the next time around. A plateau will occur when our body has adapted to what we are putting it through, and is no longer rebuilding itself stronger, as it feels as if it’s already capable of what we are trying to do. (How rude!) Now, that is not to say you aren’t working your tail off in your workouts. In fact, it means you have successfully achieved what you are trying to do! Your body is finally at the level you were pushing it to be at. Congrats! That is where we see our plateau. However, progress is addicting and now we want more! We have only just begun. There are several ways to overcome this plateau, but it is not easy work. It involves pushing yourself out of your comfort zone yet again. There are many ways to progress any workout that are derived from four main factors: go heavier, increase rep range (ex: do 12 repetitions of the movement instead of 8) decrease rest time in between sets, and increase time under tension (slower negatives/lowering phase of the motion) These four may ways are easy adjustments you can incorporate moving forward. For example, you’re in a bootcamp and your instructor says “Ok we are doing 12 bicep curls, grab your weights” and you initially go for the 10lb weights that you know and love for curls. Freeze! Reach for the 12s or 15s. Maybe you won’t be able to complete the 12 reps but this heavier weight is potentially a load you haven’t ever trained your biceps under before, and that can kick them into the “Woah next time we repair, we have to get a little stronger to handle this new weight”  This same method can be used on any of our modalities. Lean towards the higher end of the resistance range, and push to stay in the cadence range as best as you can. Some other methods of pushing through a plateau include but are not limited to, challenging yourself with higher intensity formats or longer class lengths. Maybe you have always stuck to workouts of 45 minutes or less, are you ready to take on the challenge of a 60?! My last piece of advice on overcoming a plateau (and some of you aren’t going to want to hear this) is prioritizing recovery. I’m going to say it louder in case you missed it… PRIORITIZE RECOVERY! There are cases when overtraining causes us to hinder our progress. Remember our muscles need time to recover and rebuild stronger to allow us to crush our next workout. So when we don’t allow them the time to do so, they can’t regrow and can even break down causing us to feel weaker. Listen to your body, and take that low intensity day filled with stretching and yoga, or even take a full guilt-free rest day.  Planning your workout week can really help see this on paper. If you have a very busy day, and realize that you just exercised for 6 days straight, what a perfect day for you to schedule a rest day. That will even give you more energy to come back stronger and with higher intensity. Do not let the plateau set you back, allow it to motivate you further and launch you into new successes.

To combat setbacks, obstacles, and lack of motivation, time Management, accountability, and overcoming plateaus are not the only three ways. There are many other tactics that you can utilize to ensure you are constantly setting yourself up for success in achieving your goals. While the list is nearly endless, our attention spans are not, so before I lose you, allow this to be a solid start to taking the necessary steps to position yourself for the future. You are human, allow yourself grace and forgiveness in this process, and be proud of yourself every step of the way because not everyone is able to do what YOU do. On the days you feel like you didn’t “crush it” you still showed up, you still tried, and there’s so many more successful days ahead of you.

We’re here to work, we’re here to sweat, but most importantly, we’re here to have fun. Find the fun and keep showing up.