We know that technically the new year starts on January 1. But there’s something about the fall that seems to bring a fresh start. No matter how old you are, back to school season signifies a new year, even if you stopped buying school supplies ages ago. That’s why fall is the perfect time to adapt a new health and fitness routine. “In our minds, the start of the school year is a great time to set new goals,” says ClassPass founder Payal Kadakia. “This is a great way to start up again and make some changes.”
There’s no one better to advise on just that than Kadakia herself, which is why we asked her to share her top tips and smart strategies for getting back into a healthy routine this fall.
Create a calendar
“I live by my calendar so the classes I take are all in it,” Kadakia says. “We all have busy schedules. The trick is making sure you have a lot of options.” For example, if Kadakia thinks she might get stuck at work, she’ll have a class scheduled at 6pm and another at 7pm just in case she can’t make the first one. “I like to plan. I love going to classes, so I’ll always have my primary option and I like having backup options for a quick class or a run on the treadmill. It’s all about having a schedule in your calendar the same way you have meetings and backup options in case something comes up. It’s important to me to make sure I get my workout in daily.”
Use the buddy system
“Have someone else you’re going with to class to hold you accountable in going,” Kadakia says. In fact, research shows that there are plenty of other perks to working out with a friend, from getting much-needed encouragement to a little friendly competition.
Mix it up
“Switch up your routine so that you’re not doing the same workout every day,” Kadakia says. “ClassPass really is a fun way to try stuff. Get it with a friend and explore what the options are together.” Kadakia keeps it interesting by doing a mix of barre, Pilates, spinning, and running, plus yoga on the weekends with her husband. “I also try boot camps once in a while when I need to kick it up. I have taken so many different classes, things I never thought I would do. The variety keeps it exciting and fresh and keeps me on my toes.”
Do what you love
If working out starts to feel like a chore, you’re not going to make those sweat sessions. “Look for something fun and motivating and an experience that you’re going to go to,” advises Kadakia. “It’s an exploration of yourself, figuring out what kind of workouts you like, what kind of teachers you like, what workout style is going to work for you. If it feels like it’s work no one is ever going to do it.”
Kadakia has been dancing her whole life, and it’s one of her favorite ways to stay fit. That’s why she founded her dance troupe, Sa Dance Company. “I’ve been an Indian folk dancer; my teacher came from India and trained me here. As I got older, I learned ballet and jazz. Seeing the ballet and incredible dance companies, I wanted to help translate my culture to a mainstream audience through dance. It’s really about sharing stories of my heritage and where I came from.” Find something you’re equally passionate about.
Pack a bag
“Having easy to wear workout clothes with you is important,” Kadakia says. We’ve all been there: You’re feeling so tired at the end of the work day that you just want to go home. But if you brought your gym bag to work, you can go straight to your workout, so that crosses out one major excuse.
There’s a lot more to being healthy than just going to the gym. “I like to start my day looking for quotes,” Kadakia says. “Quotes have always been a big part of my life for staying positive, which is a part of self-care. I’ve done it for so long; I did it when starting my company. It clears my mind and keeps me focused on a good thought for the day. When I share it on Instagram, giving it out helps me receive it all day long.”
Other healthy habits Kadakia has include drinking green tea and snacking on almonds.
“I actually do my own goal setting process for all aspects of my life — personal and professional,” Kadakia says. “I really make sure that I’m making progress in all the areas that are important to me in that time. I set goals in chunks of three months. In my career I knew how to set these goals, but I didn’t always set them with my health or personal life. I started doing that and feel balanced.”
Of course, setting health and wellness goals isn’t just about what number you see on the scale. “I am very much driven by how I feel with working out; my goals are more about staying motivated and having fun,” Kadakia says. “How do I make sure I feel stronger and fit? If you don’t work out for a week you lose your muscles. Working out for me is like mediation.”
Remember the mental health perks
Working up a sweat does a lot more for you than just the physical benefits. “For me, the mental side is what keeps it going,” Kadakia says. “If you don’t make the crossover to becoming a mental thing, it’s easier to stop. It’s all about figuring out I didn’t think I could do that class and I could. As human beings we constantly need confidence boosts, knowing we can overcome something. It’s a great way to get that reassurance every day. You know you’re going to feel better if you go to class — hang on to that feeling.”
Keep in mind that you might need to make a few adjustments to get that post-workout high. “If you go to a class that you hate, you shouldn’t be going to that class. And sometimes you get bored if you go to it 15 times. Switch it up so you can get that energy back. Your muscles adapt pretty quickly, that’s why it’s important to always keep challenging yourself physically, emotionally and mentally.”