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Friday, February 17, 2023


It’s almost March the gyms are thinning out and those there were determined to stick to their new exercise routine are nowhere to be found.  

While the idea of kicking off the year with fresh goals makes sense in theory, it can backfire in practice because making a New Year’s resolution often means setting yourself up for failure. 

On the other hand, intentions allow you to stay flexible about your goals and avoid falling into the trap of all-or-nothing thinking. And in a world still disrupted by a global pandemic, adaptability is key. 

Ready to wrap your head around the concept of intentions so you can step your fitness game up this year? Here’s everything you need to know about setting fitness intentions instead of resolutions. 

What Exactly Are Intentions?

“Intentions are simply ideas that we plan to carry out to achieve something specific,” says personal fitness trainer Elie Hawawini

According to mindset expert and personal trainer Tara Brunet, setting intentions is about focusing on a general desired state of being instead of a rigid goal. Many people set unrealistic workout objectives and quickly give up on them. But fitness intentions allow for progress and consistency. 

“An intention leaves a lot more room for variety and flexibility to change things up to match the desired state as opposed to feeling restricted by the goal you set,” she says. 

“You could set the goal to run a marathon, and then discover you really dislike distance running and give up. If you set the intention to get into the best cardiovascular shape of your life, however, that leaves you with plenty of room to explore alternative options and increase your chances of success.”

Differences Between Intentions and Resolutions

“When we set intentions, we build a guideline for our subconscious mind to follow. This gives us the direction we need to up our fitness game in a healthy and sustainable way,” says Hawawini. 

“Resolutions, on the other hand, are simply promises that we make to ourselves. In many cases, a guideline is more effective and long-lasting than a simple promise.”

According to him, intentions also focus on a journey instead of a final target, reducing the counterproductive restrictions and pressure that New Year’s resolutions can bring. 

Brunet agrees: “An intention leaves room for flexibility and being open to all the different ways a goal can come to fruition. When we set a resolution, it tends to be very strict and firm, not allowing room for growth or change.” 

Benefits of Setting Intentions

Brunet says having a growth mindset is crucial when it comes to your fitness routine – and setting intentions is the perfect way to cultivate one. That means being open to failing and learning, instead of aiming for perfection and quitting.  

“The reality is, the journey to any fitness goal is never going to be perfect. There will be bad days, injuries and obstacles along the way,” she says. “A growth mindset will lead you to try different things and challenge yourself in new areas, and then see long-term results.”

Intentions are indeed great for follow-through. “The possibility of breaking a promise does not exist with intentions,” says Hawawini. “Intentions last longer than resolutions because we can set them at any time we want.” 

Plus, there is something very powerful behind an intention: Your core values. “Favoring intentions will allow you to get more clear on your why,” says Brunet. 

Aiming tobench pressa certain amount of weight won’t necessarily get you thinking about your inner motivations. But getting clear on your intentions will inevitably lead you to go deeper. 

“Do you want to feel a sense of strength? Do you want to look a certain way? Why? What is the deep-rooted reason beyond the surface goal? When you get clear on that, and then set intentions around it, you give yourself a much easier [and enjoyable] route to your goals,” she says. 

“Simply put, intentions give us a roadmap to follow through with reasons to keep going forward,” says Hawawini.

Fitness Intention-Setting Tips

So, how do you go about setting fitness intentions? Both Brunet and Hawawini recommend getting clear on what you intend to do. The key here is to balance specificity with flexibility. 

“Make a list of what you want to accomplish within the week, and then choose the workout that appeals to you the most each day,” says Brunet. That way, you won’t feel like you messed up if you miss a single workout (which can lead you to get into the habit of “starting over” again the following week). 

Hawawini suggests writing your intentions down. “When you set intentions you begin a very mindful and physical experience. The best way to connect to this experience is for the words to be released from your own body.  [Writing] is a powerful technique to connect to what you want to create and how you want to feel,” he says.

Speaking of feeling, you’ll want to keep your eyes on the prize in terms of how you want to feel throughout the year. “Focus on the feeling first, and then be open to a variety of ways you can accomplish that feeling,” says Brunet. 

“Give yourself the freedom to deviate from a strict plan and try out new things such as mountain biking, or CrossFit – you never know what you could get totally hooked on and see amazing results with a regime that you love.” 

And remember that done is always better than perfect. “Take that first step and act on what you intend to do. If you do nothing, nothing will change. Therefore it's important to actually start and set your plan in motion. It doesn't matter if you're unsure of exactly what you want to do, or where you'll end up,” says Hawawini. 

Take things one step at a time, enjoy the journey, and don’t get stuck in a box. “You don't need to be just a bodybuilder, or a runner or a cyclist,” says Brunet. 

“Don't just go through the motions like a robot. Feel the experience, be grateful for it, enjoy the process, the progress, the growth, and everything you learn along the way,” says Hawawini. 


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