PART 1 - How to Succeed in Building Consistency: Advice from members with over 1,000 logged workouts
“The longer you are consistent, the more it becomes who you are. I don't work out because I'm motivated. I do it because it's ingrained in me. It doesn't have to look pretty. You can be in your PJs, no shoes or socks, half-asleep, but you feel so much better once it's done.”
When it comes to daily habits like brushing our teeth, most of us don't really think about it. We don’t ask ourselves, “Am I going to brush my teeth today? I don't know, I'll decide later.” We just automatically do it. But the same mentality doesn’t always translate to our fitness. Why can finding consistency be so challenging?
Street Parking founder Miranda Alcaraz recently reached out to SP members who have logged 1,000 workouts or more — those who have found success in building consistency for years — to ask them what advice they would offer to newer Street Parking members. “Newer” members could describe somebody who has just joined Street Parking, somebody who hasn't quite found consistency yet, somebody who fell off and just came back, or anyone who is somewhere along their fitness path and is still working to find consistency.
These SP members are people with varied backgrounds who have taken the tools from Street Parking and made them work for them. Their responses were as varied as their experiences, but a few themes and pieces of advice emerged. In Part One, we’ll highlight the principles and mantras that many repeated, and continue with the more practical tips in Part Two. (For the full fifteen pieces of advice with stories and members’ “in their own words,” check out the podcast or YouTube episode!)
ADVICE: You don’t need to be a certain fitness level to start OR to start over.
“You can start these workouts from a base of really poor or absent fitness. I know because I did that. My first SHIFT workout took twice as long as the cutoff time, and I could hardly walk from air squats. A lot has changed in three and a half years.”
One of the things that holds people back from establishing consistency is starting in the first place. Something that we hear a lot is: “I need to get in shape before I start.” While understandable, the sentiment is just not true. The tools provided within Street Parking — specifically: the customization options, the different programs, SHIFT — allow you to start where you're at.
“Pick a workout and go for it. Do what you can. All the tools are there for you. Make sure to check out the Coaches Notes, the program options, and the customizations. There's no reason that you can't start.”
ADVICE: “Commit to learning, not just following directions.”
“The podcasts are an amazing resource. I have learned so much about the WHY behind how workouts are programmed and how our bodies work. Join a Focus Group. Read the newsletters. Watch the Daily Workout videos, and read the Coaches Notes.”
People are much more successful when they understand the WHY behind what they're doing. It's much easier to buy in and stick to it. Read, listen, watch, even ask as much as you can. The more you understand, the more you're going to see the value in what we're teaching you and trying to get you to do, and the more successful you will become. You’ll have more autonomy. The more in control you will feel when life gets out of control. Commit to learning, not just following directions.
ADVICE: Customize, customize, customize.
Customize for mental reasons, physical reasons, fitness level, equipment.
- “Customize a workout to meet the goals of the workout.” Fit the workout with what you are capable of doing, and fit it with equipment that you have. It is better to do a 10-minute workout with modifications rather than not do it at all because you don't have all of the equipment or you can't do one of the movements.
- “Use whatever equipment you have. I started with just one set of dumbbells. You don't have to buy everything all at once, or ever really.” You could do it all with a pair of dumbbells forever if you had to (thanks to the “Customizations” button found on every Daily Workout), and you could still gain and remain really fit.
- “There's nothing wrong with modifying workouts to do what you prefer. Some days I do the suggested weight but scale to knee push-ups because I'm just not feeling toe push-ups, and some days I do SHIFT but I use a heavier weight.” Customizing doesn't necessarily mean making the workout easier. It could just be making it different: do D-ball over the shoulder instead of power cleans, pull the sled instead of running because it's really nice outside, go heavier today and lower the reps a little bit because you feel like moving heavier weight.
You might be thinking, “Well, how do I know how to do that?” Go back to what we talked about before: Commit to learning. The more that you pay attention to these podcasts, emails, to all of the Coaches Notes, all the resources, the more confident you're going to be knowing how to customize and exercise your #FitnessFreedom.
If you're just following instructions and you're never learning the why or learning the methodology, you're always going to second guess what would be appropriate. Any of it's allowed.
That’s why we say “you're not going to mess it up.” As long as you're working out and doing something, you're not going to mess it up. The more you understand about what goes into the programs through learning with the resources that we give you, the more power you are going to have to customize for both when you need to simplify the workout or if you're injured or sick, but also when you just want to change it to be different, more fun, or more challenging.
Building consistency through customizations allows for fitness freedom. Just as important to consistency is the mental freedom that comes with the next piece of advice:
ADVICE: Don’t compare yourself to others.
“Fitness is a lifelong journey, not a race with a finish line. Do what you can and what works best for you.”
Every one of us is different. “Do whatever works best for you in this season of life. Change your workouts or adapt the movements to fit what works for you right now. You don't have to do what everyone else is doing.”
Street Parking used to use a different logging platform with a built-in leaderboard, but over time what we found with people who are often working out alone is that members compared their worst day to someone else's best day, allowing that to dictate whether or not they were successful.
We took the leaderboard piece away to encourage people to focus only on their consistency to their effort, and then (when it's appropriate) to focus on how they're improving when they're repeating workouts. Don't compare yourself to others. Whether it's in the workouts or what the habits that you've got going in your lifestyle, don't compare yourself to the person who's been doing this for years. You're not in the same place. You can get there, but don't compare yourself. In most situations, there's nothing to be gained from that.
ADVICE: Expect bad days.
This one is very simple: “Never quit on a hard day.” If you're here for consistency and lifelong fitness, let's be honest: life will throw twists and turns that you will not see coming. We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow.It's not in the easy days that consistency is built, but in how resilient we are through the unexpected that will make and break everything. Expect bad days.
“It's usually not easy.” It's hard every day, but when you are the only one responsible for your health, mental strength, and accomplishments, you have to do it for you. Consistency is the most rewarding gift you can give yourself. One member went on to say,“Every day that you show up, you win. And you win even bigger on days that you don't want to go or you don't want to do it. Your consistency becomes your strength, and you find the best version of yourself because you did it for yourself.”
ADVICE: Be patient.
Be prepared to be patient, especially through the bad days.
“Find one thing to do well. Do it well. When it's a habit, pick something else. It's not ‘do all the things well, and do them well from the very beginning or you failed.’”
Members who have found success and consistency said to find one thing and do it well. They didn’t say to master it. Do it well, make it a habit, and then pick something else. It could look like this: This week I decide to drink more water, and maybe I do that for two or three or four weeks. Then drinking water becomes a thing I just do, and I don't think about it so much. So I move to another habit: I'm going to eat veggies at dinner every single day, and that might take me three, four, five, six weeks to add on top of the water habit. And then it's the next thing, and then it's the next thing… You have your whole life. Stop trying to fit it into one month or one challenge.
ADVICE: Do More Than Nothing.
And the thing that was probably repeated more than anything: Do more than nothing.
“Something is better than nothing. It's easier to keep doing a little than to have to start over.”
“Consistency does not equal perfection.”
Being consistent doesn't mean every day you're going to be able to go all out and crush your goals in PR. Some days, if not many days, will be a battle to even start a workout. Some days will be a battle to finish one because you're interrupted by life or your kids, sometimes multiple times in a single workout. Some days, weeks, or months it will just be about overcoming injury and how you work around it. It's about showing up for yourself repeatedly for whatever season that you're in.
More Than Nothing is not an out. It is the biggest ever buy-in, and here's why: It removes the “I can't do it all, so I won't do it at all” narrative. More than nothing is not an invitation to do less on days that you could do more, but to push to do something on days where all you want to do is throw in the towel.
“I could still do something” could mean five minutes of air squats and push-ups at the foot of your bed if that truly is all that you're capable of that day mentally, physically, time-wise. And we value that. It's not, “I don't really feel like doing anything else, I'm just gonna do five minutes.” There is a distinction between the two, and ultimately the message is to use the thought of “more than nothing counts” to help you maintain consistency.
Do something, even if it feels silly. You'll see members posting themselves working out in their break room at the hospital or in their classroom in between during recess or while their kids are in the bathtub. We value all of that, if that's truly what you need to do to make it happen that day. That is more impressive to us, to the rest of the community, than somebody who did a three-hour long workout and looked amazing and performed amazing while doing it. It is doing something and showing up for yourself when you have every reason not to is what will drive consistency and ultimately what will change your life.