Planning on getting fit for 2023? If you’ve joined the gym or classes in the past but have become disillusioned with your results, read on. Personal trainer Arash Nassir-Pour shares his getting-in-shape secrets – and it's all about preparation and so-called SMART goals.

Whenever I work with a client, the first thing I ask them is what they want to achieve. However, all too often I receive vague responses like: 'fitter', 'bigger', 'firmer' or 'thinner'. As with any aspect of life, if you don't focus on what you really want to achieve, you're unlikely to get it. So, to help focus on your fitness and gym goals, I’ve prepared some helpful tips and common sense ways to make a difference in your training – and to help keep you motivated along the way. 

Whether you want to lose weight, tone up or gain bulk in 2023, deciding on your final goal is key. Some important questions to ask yourself then are: ‘Do I want to lose weight?’ If yes, how much exactly? ‘Do I want to tone up?’ If yes, then what specific areas of your body do you want to work on? ‘Do I want to gain bulk?’ If so, how much and where? Then you need to consider what your timescale is to achieve these things. Is it realistic?
Get SMART and measure your gym goals


SMART goals for gym and fitness

There’s an acronym I use with my gym and fitness training which is used in many different fields for achieving goals: SMART(ER). It originally comes from Motivational Interview Therapy, a therapeutic model developed to work with people to implement sustainable changes effectively. This model is useful to cement what you want to do and how to get there. Here’s how you can apply SMART(ER) goals to your gym and fitness regime and get the results you want.  

1. Specific

Focus on specific areas. If you say you want to “generally look better, tone up a bit”, this isn’t gonna help. Prioritise what would make the biggest difference to you. It's hard to bulk up when you're trying to lose weight, so which is the more important? Or if you want to tone up, is your muffin top your priority or is it your moobs?

2. Measured

The 'M' in SMART goals stands for 'measured'. You've picked your goals, but what is your ultimate end goal going to be? Set a date for your when you hope to complete your body transformation. Be sure to take some measurements of where you are at the start, e.g., weight, body measurements and body fat composition. Also, take photos of how you are now and more as you go along. I'd recommend setting yourself some fitness tests, suggestions below. If you see yourself improving, this will also give you more confidence to keep going and reach your goals.


3. Achievable

Unless you’re lucky enough to have nothing going on in your life except exercise, be realistic. Fitting in family, friends, work and hobbies is paramount. If you sacrifice everything for fitness, chances are you’ll push yourself too hard and then fall off your schedule, and then it’s harder to get back on track.

“This model is useful to cement what you want to do and how to get there. Here’s how you can apply SMART(ER) goals to your gym and fitness regime and get the results you want.” 

Know how to fit training in with your life and try to pre-empt what barriers could arise, and how you’ll counter those. Consider making a fitness timetable and sticking to it. 


4. Realistic 

You've got your goal and a time frame, but is it realistic and is it safe? Crash dieting and high-intensity training can have noticeable effects, but also make sustaining these changes very unlikely. If you're working out, make sure you’re getting nutrition and plenty of rest: if you're working out to the point of exhaustion, it won't be long until you make yourself sick. Also, it’s important to know your body type: not everyone can physically achieve the same results as their favorite Instagram crush.

5. Timed

So, the T in SMART goals stands for 'timed'. Now you have your end goal, break it down for some briefer intervals where you can review how you're progressing. If you want to lose two inches off your waist within three months, review if you’re one inch thinner at six weeks – this way you’ll know if you’re on track to reach your goal.

Push up and push on with fitness SMART goals! shutterstock/Ground Picture

6. Evaluate 

At your review points, think about how you’re doing. Evaluation will measure if you’re exceeding your targets or have more work to do. If you’ve exceeded things, great. Take the time to celebrate your achievements.


7. Review and revise

This is where you can up the challenge and change your end target if need be. If you’re not reaching where you’d like to be then it’s useful to think about if your goal was unrealistic and review this, or how you can up your efforts to reach your goal. Likewise, if you’re losing weight fast for example, perhaps you want to increase your end goal. 

The bottom line: gym SMART goals for fitness

SMART goals are a great way to help your reach your body ambitions and keep you on-track when it comes to your gym and fitness routine. However, if you're still struggling to motivate yourself, group classes can be a  great way of encouraging you. Also, having a great personal trainer (like me) can help you make the progress you want. So, what are you waiting for? •

Main image: shutterstock/Elnur

Arash Nassir-Pour is a qualified personal trainer from the UK based in Barcelona, Spain.  He's on a quest to follow his dream to work outside in the sun doing what he loves – telling other people to work harder!

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Only ever used SMART goals in a work environment but can see how they would help in a fitness and gym way too. Gonna give these a go when trying to shift my flab in January and beyond :P

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