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The Habit Loop


Members join a club for a reason. Usually that reason has something to do with a fitness goal like losing weight or improving overall health. Although most members have the utmost intention of meeting that goal, it can be tough.

Even though the goal is real and the rational to reach that goal is solid, why is it that some members will still not achieve it? It can be because that member has not created a habit out of exercising. A habit is created when a member creates a trigger, a routine and rewards him or herself for completion.

For example, the member may create “leaving work” as a trigger to “it’s time to exercise.” This means that when the member leaves his or her office job at 5 p.m. on Monday, instinctively he or she knows that “time” and “action” is a cue to “go to the gym.” Once the member has gone to the gym, he or she then may reward him or herself by buying a post-workout treat or chatting with friends after class. The more the member “rewards him or herself” for going to the gym, the greater the association and the dopamine release. In turn, the more this happens the more the member’s body will anticipate the reward, so when triggered the urge will become just as great.

This idea can also be used when trying to change a bad habit, such as eating donuts. The easiest way to change a bad habit is to not change trigger, but to adjust the routine slowly. This will eliminate the frustration and desires caused by eliminating the “reward” or donuts cold turkey. Instead of grabbing a donut, try a coffee or going on a quick walk. The reward will still be significant and it will slowly adjust the routine over time.

It’s that simple. Just remember never to eliminate the reward within the habit loop or frustration will kick in and the habit will begin to fall.


Emmett Williams is the president of MYZONE. For more information call 312-870-4800 or email emmett.williams@myzone.org. 


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