10 Reasons People Give Up on Their Fitness Goals and Going to the Gym

A man pursuing his fitness goals by doing squats at the gym

A man is pursuing his fitness goals by doing squats at the gym. | Phil Walter/Getty Images

Are you one of those people who, year after year, resolves to finally get fit? The beginning of the year is always popular for these types of personal promises. This year, we tell ourselves, we’re going to get to the gym and make a habit of it. The problem is that most of us don’t follow through. We might read plenty of fitness articles, piece together a diet and workout plan, and probably even go to the gym a handful of times. But then, the wheels come off. We stop going. Our goals are left, abandoned.

So, why is that? It seems a relatively small percentage of the people who resolve to get in shape ultimately give up. What’s the problem?

There’s no simple answer. Typically, getting fit or taking fitness seriously requires a major overhaul. You suddenly have another commitment, and you may be in need of money or transportation. Or, perhaps your job or family are simply too demanding. There are numerous reasons fitness suddenly may have to take a backseat. Your time is precious and scarce, and dividing it up efficiently isn’t easy.

That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, however. By examining some of the reasons we give up on our goals, you might be able to avoid the pitfalls or to even see psychological traps coming your way. Again, it’s a big commitment for some people, and making big changes to your lifestyle isn’t easy. But if you want to put in the effort, you’ll probably find it all worthwhile. Here are 10 reasons people give up on their fitness goals and stop going to the gym.

1. It’s a commitment

A man staring at a wall instead of getting after it

Fitness can feel like a chore for some people. | iStock.com

Some people don’t like it when they know they’re supposed to do something. Or feel that they “have to” do it. It becomes a chore rather than something you want to do. Commitments morph into obligations and devolve into chores. Before you know it, you don’t want to work out because you’re “supposed to.” That kind of mindset might drive you away for good.

2. They aren’t having fun

A man playing with his phone and listening to music

Try to have fun at the gym. | iStock.com/gzorgz

If something isn’t fun or engaging, we tend to drop it. This is why many people never go to art museums or avoid watching soccer. And it applies in the gym as well. If you’re going but not having a good time, or aren’t engaged in what you’re doing? Your commitment to getting fit isn’t going to last long.

3. Their goals aren’t in order

Men and women exercise on stationary bikes

Know what your goals are, and stick to them. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

One thing that’s imperative before you start working out regularly? Having some goals in mind. You want to know what you’re aiming for or have some tangible targets in mind. And, as Health points out, you need to make sure your goals are realistic. If you think you’re going to lose 40 pounds in a month, you’ll need to reassess. Setting realistic goals will also help you build psychological momentum so you can keep improving.

4. It’s intimidating

group of friends or sportsmen exercising

The gym can feel intimidating. | iStock.com/dolgachov

One of the hardest things about going to the gym, or getting started with any fitness regimen, is that it’s intimidating. If you’ve never gone before or are out of shape, you’ll feel that everyone is watching and judging you. Some people might be — but you need to push through the insecurity. If you feel self-conscious or scared, you won’t be able to perform a specific exercise. The only way to dispel those feelings is by working at it.

5. They’re distracted

Man and woman exercising with dumbbells

Make sure you’re putting in the effort. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

Going to the gym is only a part of the battle. You won’t win the war unless you actually do the work. You may notice many people at your gym who are distracted — or distracting. Focus on what you’re doing, and you won’t waste your time. That means stop looking at other people, stop staring at your phone, and try to move through your workout with efficiency.

6. They plateau or reach their goals

A satisfied man at work

There’s always a new goal you can reach. | iStock.com

One problem many people face is hitting a plateau. This can cause a loss of momentum, or give a sense of accomplishment. A sense that makes it feel like you’ve done enough. The trick here is to never be satisfied; stay hungry, and try some different tactics to push past the plateau. That may include rethinking your goals.

7. Injuries

A man nursing an injury at the gym

A man nursing an injury at the gym | iStock.com

You’re going to get hurt at some point, but you need to be able to recognize the difference between an injury and discomfort. Breaking Muscle has a few pointers on distinguishing between the two. The gist? You’ll be sore, tired, and need some rest at some point. That’s not the same as a real injury, which may require significant time away from the gym. Injuries (or discomforts) can derail our fitness goals if you let them.

8. Impatience

Athletic man and woman after exercise

Getting in shape takes time. | iStock.com/bondarchik

Remember what we said about goals? This plays right into that — if your goals aren’t realistic, you’re going to fall short. And if you fall short, or don’t have the physique of the people in the image above, you’re going to lose patience. Getting fit and muscular doesn’t happen overnight, or even over the course of a month. It’s a marathon — sometimes literally. Approach it methodically and with patience.

9. Laziness

man kicking up his feet to nap on a coach

Don’t get lazy! | iStock.com

Yes, sometimes people stop going to the gym or abandon their goals because they’re simply lazy. We’re all lazy from time to time, and if you skip a few workouts because you’d rather watch TV or hit the bars, you may make a habit of it.

10. Life gets in the way

young family taking selfie on the floor

Make some time for yourself. | iStock.com/shironosov

Finally, sometimes life simply gets in the way and trumps your fitness goals. Having a spouse, kids, a job, hobbies, and everything else? It leaves little time for workouts. Some people can manage work-arounds, while others can’t. In those cases, focus on the things you have some control over, like your diet, and exercise when you can.