Harness the fresh start effect

Why September is the perfect time to set fitness goals

There's a reason why September is dubbed the new January. Goal-setting this time of year harnesses the power of the “fresh start effect”.

Do you remember the excitement as a child of going back to school and starting the new school year with positive intentions?

The fresh new uniform; the latest must-have pencil case; the anticipation of seeing friends again and getting stuck back into learning after a summer of fun?

That feeling isn’t just for kids. Research shows that the ‘back to school feeling’ extends to adults too. Time-based landmarks (aka temporal landmarks) such as birthdays, new year or the new academic year all bring a sense of reflection, renewed focus, and motivation to set goals for positive behaviour change. From childhood the month of September is engrained within us as a new start because it was the start of a new school year.

Researchers have called this phenomenon the fresh start effect.

September is the perfect time to refresh your fitness goals and take on new challenges. Let’s be honest, the warmer, lighter months make it much easier to stick to them than in January, and we’re still happy from the summer.

The long, lazy days of summer gift us with much-needed holidays and time off with family, leaving us rested and rejuvenated, relaxed and recharged. Much better than being weighed down with festive excess like you are at the beginning of a new year.

It makes sense then, that the new academic year offers a clean slate laden with possibility. It’s the best time of the year to kickstart positive change, when you’re most likely to stick to new habits and resolutions into Christmas and beyond.

Head of Fitness for Freedom Leisure says: “We’ve seen that September joiners are often more likely to achieve fitness goals and they seem to stay more motivated for longer while being more confident to try new things. It makes sense really; the kids all head back to school and the adults kind of follow suit, and the fact they may feel brighter and happier after summer makes it easier.”

Freedom Leisure's Head of Fitness

Here’s how you can embrace that back to school feeling to set your September fitness goals

Swap new stationery for new fitness apps or a training diary



Nothing beats a crisp new notebook. Just like that 10 pack of gel pens you just had to have as a child, equipping yourself with new tools (or toys?!) to keep you motivated can really help you to reach your goals.

Harness that fresh start feeling by downloading a new app or keeping a fitness diary to plan your weekly activities and active catch ups with friends. Record how you felt in each session, what progress you made and what you plan to do on the next one.

Swap classroom learning to learn a new sport



We know that learning can improve our mental wellbeing, boost self confidence and self-esteem, and help us to connect with others. The National Wellness Institute states learning as one of the six dimensions of wellness, and that doesn’t just happen in the classroom.

Learning a new sport is the perfect way to boost your mental and physical wellbeing as we head into the autumn months. Your local Freedom Leisure centre will have multiple sports facilities and clubs to choose from including football, hockey, badminton, tennis and squash to name a few  – or simply start swimming, new group exercise sessions or a refreshed workout routine in the gym. Many people have been in a gym but never lifted free weights for example - but it's easy to learn and September is a great time to try!

Swap new school uniform for new fit kit



Everyone loves that fresh clothes feeling, and that works for gym kit too. You’ll be more likely to keep your September fitness resolutions if you have kit you feel comfortable and confident in.

It’s no fun spending half of your session fiddling with loose-fitting leggings or nursing blisters from old trainers, so treat yourself to some new kit to jump, step, dance or run your way to your fitness goals.

Swap school friends for gym buddies



Research shows that motivation to be active comes easier with others, with 64% of people pushing themselves harder during their workouts with a friend compared to going it alone.

Why not combine your fitness and your social life together to hit the gym with friends? Or if the gym doesn’t take your fancy your local Freedom Leisure centre will have plenty of options for group exercise including dance and fitness classes, sports or swimming facilities, or yoga and Pilates to relax and recharge together.

So don’t let the kids have all the fun!

Embrace that innate back to school feeling that is still within you and harness it, don't wait until January, join your local leisure centre now and set yourself some September fitness goals that keep you inspired, energised and motivated throughout the autumn months long into the new year. 

Harness your fresh start effect now!

Find out about membership offers at your local centre.

September offers