Of all the local fitness-based Instagram accounts out there (and wow, there are so many), there is one I always enjoy looking at. It doesn’t feature a ton of “perfect” gym bodies in the hippest-patterned tights, over-the-top inspirational quotes or impossibly vivid juices and smoothies. But, what City Fit Girls‘ Instagram feed always has are photos of women, usually in big groups, running or working out and looking really, really happy.
City Fit Girls isn’t a gym, it’s an all-levels fitness and wellness community for women. It’s based in Philadelphia, but offers events and pop-up runs in South Jersey and Washington, D.C., and it connects with women across the world via social media. City Fit Girls offers online resources (like How to Start Running), it sends out a weekly newsletter, organizes group runs and hosts annual fit retreats. Scrolling through its feed on the ‘gram, one just gets the sense that it’s a big, fun group of people who love working out and hanging out together — a real community, which is so refreshing in a culture where that word is thrown around a lot, often without earning the meaning.
CFG’s attitudes toward exercise and empowerment feel so healthy and balanced to me, I couldn’t think of anyone better to ask about fitness-related New Year’s resolutions than the group’s co-founder, Kiera Smalls, who started the group with Takia McClendon in 2013.
She was kind enough to answer some of our questions about how people can ease into new, healthier routines, how they can keep up with goals and be kind to themselves, even if things don’t go exactly as planned.
PA Eats: Why do you think resolutions have become “a thing” in our society? Do you think resolutions have the power to help people make lasting positive changes?
Kiera Smalls: The new year brings a feeling of new possibilities, a fresh start and a time to “get things right.” (Whatever that means for the individual.) Some people hate on the idea of resolutions, but others thrive on it. Resolutions can be the very thing that changes someone’s life for the better. It can motivate them to start off the year on a good note, and create goals and habits while inspiring others.
What are common pitfalls you see when people make fitness-based resolutions?
The inability to keep the momentum going when you don’t see results right away. After three weeks, you start to see the gym empty out, Facebook motivational posts diminish, etc. People either get bored or lose focus. I think some people do it for the hype but ride the wave until no one’s talking about it anymore. However, that needs to be the very moment that you stay on track.
If someone wants to use the New Year as a change to start or improve their fitness routine, how do you think they should start out?
Making changes on a micro level instead of macro level. Saying, “I want to lose 10 pounds” is not enough. Set smart goals in order to make it happen. This way, you can more easily track the progress of all the little things you did to work towards your goal.
Can you talk a bit about how group exercise can help people stay accountable and committed to their goals?
Having a community hold you accountable helps keep the momentum strong. It’s hard to let your excuses overpower you when you have 10, 15, 20 or more individuals looking to hold you accountable. You can also feel a sense of responsibility to be that accountability person to the group as a whole. I think the best thing one can do is “show up” so that others can too. That can apply to a lot of our day-to-day activities as well.
Do you have any advice for people who lose momentum on their resolutions after a few months?
Yes, my favorite mantra: You can begin again at any time. That’s the beauty in all of this. Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t achieve the goal you set out to achieve. Start off fresh with your new smart goals, and take it from there.
Another mantra that works for me: Nobody cares, work harder. If you’re worried that you’ve proved the naysayers right, that does nothing for you in the long run. They’ve probably forgotten about your resolutions anyway. Focus on you. Do you.
How do you think people can find the balance between being kind to themselves when they “mess up” (skip a few days or weeks of workouts, etc.) and pushing themselves to not quit?
Mindfulness. Patience. Acceptance.
I recognize that’s much easier said than done. However, once you find yourself feeling down about messing up, think about how you could use that energy to push yourself to do better.
Also, seek inspiration from others, but don’t let that cloud your judgment. This is your journey. Make it what you need it to be for you.
Thanks so much, Kiera! To learn more about City Fit Girls, check out its website and Facebook page and do yourself a favor and follow along on Instagram, too. All those smiling, sweaty faces might be just what you need to motivate yourself into today’s workout.
- Photos: City Fit Girls