Starting a new habit is far from easy, especially when it comes to trying a new type of class (skate gym, anyone?) or sweat sesh where you might feel totally awkward or have major muscle soreness (pro tip: Learn how to foam roll) for the first few weeks. Because experts say that it takes a whopping 66 days for a behavior to become automatic, we talked with a group of fitness pros to get their secrets for sticking with a new routine. Scroll on for their secrets and then try ‘em yourself.

Female runner resting

1. Set an end goal and write it down. Trainer Kristy Stabler suggests, “Write out your end goal, along with the weekly workouts you’ll complete to get there. Print out a calendar and schedule your workouts ahead of time. Post your goals and calendar on the wall where you’ll see it every day.”

2. Set mini goals too. Saying you want to do 40 pushups without stopping is a big and awesome long-term goal. Instead, focus on baby steps, like achieving your three days of spin class this week and one day of yoga. Jessica Thiefels, the owner at Honest Body Fitness, says, “Each class or workout, set a small goal for yourself, mental or physical. This will motivate you to get through the session and you’ll feel even better when you finish. Goals could be as simple as ‘Make it through ab work without taking a break,’ or ‘Don’t compare yourself to anyone else in the class today.’”

3. Keep your new workout short and sweet. Roland & Galina Denzel, the co-authors of Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well: 52 Ways to Feel Better in a Week, suggest that short workouts are easier to stick to while long and grueling sweat sessions might add additional pressure and stress. Since dread has no place in your new routine, keep it short and sweet — especially at the beginning.

Workout is over

4. Pick the best workout time for YOU. Jessa from Get It Ohm! advises, “Forget what the experts say about morning, afternoon or evening being the best time to work out. You know when you have the most energy or motivation, or simply can squeeze it into your schedule — work out then.”

5. Use your phone as inspiration. “I have my clients set the background of their phone as a picture of their goal,” Patrick Henigan, the owner of the Jacksonville Fitness Academy in Jacksonville, FL, tells us. “It can be a number or a picture that inspires you — either way, having a constant visual cue will help you keep the big picture in mind as you slog through the early discomforts that come with doing something new.” You can also download fitness apps that’ll double as a personal trainer and track your progress.

6. Schedule fitness in. Patrick also says to treat your workouts like you would any other important commitment or meeting by scheduling it right onto your calendar. No more excuses!

7. Cultivate some serious discipline. Creating a habit can be hard. “You can motivate yourself as often as possible, but it won’t last,” Patrick acknowledges. “What you actually need to cultivate is discipline, not motivation. Forcing yourself to simply show up for the first few days will get you off to a great start.”

8. Start with the end in mind. Eli Carlson, a Former NCAA All-American coxswain and the founder behind Smack! Media, a company that reps athletes and fitness brands, says, “If I’m ever in doubt or lacking motivation, I always remember this: “You will NEVER regret a workout.” Just do it, get out the door and go.

9. Make it fun, ‘cause it should be! Choose a workout that speaks to something you love to do, be it moving to music or challenging your mental toughness. Jami Stigliano from DivaDance shares, “The days of dreading the early morning alarm for the gym are over! With so many FUN alternatives for fitness, you definitely don’t have to feel like your workout is a chore or a task. If you make your fitness routine enjoyable, you’ll naturally stick with it and get more results (and feel a lot happier in the process).” With workouts like Snowga and hula hooping out there, we couldn’t agree more.

morning workout

10. Stick with your squad. Jessa from Get It Ohm! also tells us, “Create a circle of like-minded friends who will keep you inspired to stay the course. It’s so much easier to show up to a workout when you know your pal will be there waiting for you. Friends who sweat together, stay together.” Total #squadgoals.

11. Try making a friendly bet. Leah Trask, the director of fitness at TruFusion, loves a little bit of competition. “It will be a lot harder to say no when you have someone keeping you accountable,” she swears.

12. Show yourself love. “Every day you show up to work out is another day you’ve made a good choice for yourself,” Jessica from Honest Body Fitness reminds us. “If you’re struggling through class, be okay with that. Allow yourself to have a lower intensity workout on days when you’re just not into it or are feeling weak. You’re still moving and staying committed, and that’s all that matters.”

13. Don’t forget to treat yo’self. For every time (or week) you stick with your workout, schedule something fun that won’t derail your results. It could be a delicious meal, new workout top, pedicure — whatever you love.

Did you recently start and keep a new fitness routine? Tell us what helped you power through at the beginning to stay the course on Twitter @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)