How to get moving for your New Year’s resolution

Becky Eacho, the assistant director for fitness and wellness at UNC Campus Recreation, shares advice to help keep your fitness resolutions on track.

A person holds a medicine ball above their head.
Students in a Campus Rec Heel Fit class. Heel Fit is a community-oriented group training program focused on enhancing strength, power, aerobic capacity and joint training for Tar Heels of all abilities. (Photo by John Roberts/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in January 2023.

The start of the new year comes with plenty of traditions, but among the most common that return every January are fitness resolutions.

Becky Eacho, the assistant director for fitness and wellness at UNC Campus Recreation, has watched many eager gym-goers try to hit their fitness goals and then abandon them after a few setbacks. Eacho shared some advice to help keep your fitness resolutions on track.

Know your why and create a concrete plan

A good starting point is honestly determining your “why.”

“Are you trying to get fit because you want to feel better mentally? Or is it because of a more physical goal that you have? Or is it another dimension of well-being?” Eacho said. “Have that in mind so that you’re going down the right path and you’re not just throwing whatever at the wall and seeing what sticks.”

Once you have your why in place, create a plan. Don’t just go into your resolution and hope you’ll figure it out as you go. Eacho says fitness goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

If your goal is too big or you don’t have any way to gauge how your goal is going, your plan might go off the rails. By thinking through the goal, you’re setting yourself up to know exactly what you need to do, to keep track of how it’s going and to know when to make adjustments.

“Make sure that your goals are SMART, that you’re thinking through, ‘How can I realistically achieve this so that I don’t find myself a month down the road saying, ‘Maybe next year,'” she said.

Find what moves you

Look for forms of exercise that get you excited to put on your sneakers, dance shoes or whatever footwear you need to be active.

“I encourage people to dig a little bit deeper. What do you actually love doing? Do you really like volleyball or baseball? Or maybe you’re more of an outdoors person. That’s still physical activity,” she said. “The fitness industry is really pushing people toward doing specific things, but physical activity is so much broader than that. If your goal is anything fitness-related, the biggest thing is just to find what moves you.”

The weight and cardio rooms at the Rams Head and the Student Recreation Center on campus are just the start of the list of how Campus Rec keeps Tar Heels moving. Campus Rec also offers personal fitness, intramural sports, swimming, group fitness classes, a climbing wall and opportunities to hike, kayak and paddleboard.

Find the activity that you have fun with and start.

“It should be something that you have on your calendar that you’re excited for, that maybe gets you through the day a little bit faster,” Eacho said. “It’s absolutely vital to make sure that it is something you enjoy. Otherwise, it’s either not going to get done, or it will get done, but you’re going to dread it.”

A gym class in a large facility.

A zumba class in the football team’s Bill Koman Practice Complex. (Photo by Campus Rec)

Be brave by starting small and bringing a friend

Instead of planning a 5-mile run or a 90-minute weight room trip on Day 1, Eacho suggests scaling back at the beginning and trying various intro-level fitness classes to see what’s out there. Not only will that strategy keep you from getting hurt, but it’ll also prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by something new.

At the beginning of each semester, Campus Rec hosts a series of introductory fitness classes in big spaces around campus, like the football team’s indoor practice facility. The classes cover the basics and give beginners an opportunity to try something new with little commitment.

“The class is really big. You blend in, and you don’t feel like you’re sticking out, but you’re still able to move and try something new without the pressure of walking into the four walls of the gym,” Eacho said. “We really pride ourselves on being inclusive and making sure every walk of life is able to be successful in whatever physical medium they use.”

If you are nervous about trying a new activity, Eacho recommends bringing a friend. Your fitness buddy can also help keep you accountable to your goal.

“I always encourage people to try things with their roommates or their classmates. Find a friend to do something with. I’m a big believer in that. It’s just grabbing a friend and going and working out together,” Eacho said.

“I encourage people to take that initial leap, and you won’t regret it.”

Learn more about Campus Rec