Missed a Class? So What?!?

Consistency is the foundation of a good habit. But an inflexible approach might be why you struggle to make new habits stick.

Research suggests that the more rigid you make a routine, the more likely it is to fail.

Scientists wanted to help 2,500 Google employees exercise more often. They randomly assigned them to one of three conditions: a strict routine, a flexible plan, and a control group.

The strict group was asked for the best two-hour window in their schedule and given a designated time to exercise each day. The flexible group was told to work out at any time. Both groups were paid when they completed the workout. And the control group was encouraged to exercise without payment or guidelines about when to do it.

The routine and the flexible group that were paid exercised more often. But then, after four weeks, the payments stopped, and the participants were told to maintain their habits.

Those who took a more flexible approach to their exercise routine were twice as likely to continue going to the gym as those who trained themselves to only exercise at a specific time.

This might seem counterintuitive, but if you’ve followed a plan religiously for a few weeks and then fell off the wagon and never got back on, then the experience is quite familiar (we’re looking at you, diet plans).

The more rigid approach helped people build a habit, but the habit wasn’t built for the variability of real life. If they missed a workout, they didn’t go at all. It was more effective to be incentivized to go at any time because they learned to find a way to take action, even if the situation wasn’t perfect.

It’s a reminder not to let perfection get in the way of progress. If you can’t come to classes when you usually do, adjust your plan and resolve to go to a different day or maybe even a different type of class (e.g.: switch Karate for BJJ or Aikido, or maybe Spin for HIIT). If you’re on a diet plan and life happens — such as having a meal at a restaurant — having a flexible plan that enables more variability will keep you more consistent in the long run.

Remember, your training goals should be considered to be something that provides results in the long term.  None of our black belt students got their ranks overnight.  It took them years to get to where they are now and there is no doubt that the main secret to them being at the level they are at is consistency and regular attendance. 

If you miss a train, catch the next one.  Don’t give up on the journey!