The Predicament

This time of year has the makings for lofty ambitions. December interrupts our exercise routines, and cookie and cake trays lurk everywhere. Many of us are stuck in cars and planes all day.

At the end of all this, we’re tired and lethargic and glassy-eyed. Then we’re asked about New Year’s resolutions.

This set-up makes us hyperbolic and bullish on ourselves. We convince ourselves that we can carve hours out of our schedule to go to the gym or purchase equipment that we’re certain we’ll use more than four times.

These are the ‘Grand Sweeping Gestures’ of resolution: When we resolve to be something we’re not. These resolutions set us up for failure by being idealistic and ultimately unattainable.

The Technique

Next week is 2016. But it’s also next week. You’ll wake up on January 2 and still be you. So forget lofty, Herculean goals.

The technique is this: Resolve to be gradual. Resolve to grow into new routines, new habit patterns. Experiment, investigate and try things on for size.

The tools below enable me to develop my own practice. They require very little equipment, can be done relatively quickly, and are free. Enjoy!

The Tools

1. The Scientific 7-Minute Workout timer

7Min logo

I trust science, and when a study concludes that a seven-minute routine produces changes “comparable to those of several hours of running or bike riding”, I’m game.

The 7 Minute Workout includes 12 exercises, each done for 30 seconds, with a 10-second break between each exercise. It requires a chair. The best part: When you press the ‘start’ button at 7:44, you’re done at 7:51. Gretchen Reynolds can fill you in on the details.

The website and the app are free and easy to use. Well, maybe not easy; to quote the co-author of the 7 Minute Workout article, “Those seven minutes should be, in a word, unpleasant. The upside is, after seven minutes, you’re done.”

2. darebee.com

Darebee logo

Darebee offers the sci-fi, fantasy and action movie references in their workouts and programs for which they’re famous. Most of their routines are no-equipment and don’t take more than 20 minutes. They’ve also designed an exercise routine based on the ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ books I loved as a kid.

My favorite way to use Darebee: I click ‘random’ and commit to whatever pops up. It’s a great way to avoid falling into routines and to keep your mind and body open to new experiences.

It is a free service. They live off of voluntary contributions, and I’m happy to contribute. It’s worth it to keep their material up and running for all to use.

3. Onward Facing Yoga App

Onward Facing Yoga App logo

Like many online and digital exercise tools, years went into developing this app. I know, because I developed it. The result is a yoga practice in as little as 20 minutes.

The app is available for iPhones and iPads and is free. The free version comes with five routines. All the routines can be made longer or shorter, depending on how much time you have and how much you want to challenge yourself.

If you’ve never done yoga, I’d recommend starting with the ‘Sun-Faced Buddha’ routine. It’s all-levels. It doesn’t require props. The practice can be shortened to 25 minutes and includes stretch, stability and breathing practices.

The website is onwardfacingyoga.com, or you can check it out here on the App Store.

Happy resolving!


Pittsburgh-based Richard Gartner teaches yoga classes, workshops, and teacher trainings across Pennsylvania and beyond. He’s the creator of the Onward Facing Yoga App. His 2016 resolutions include curling up with anatomy books and understanding Spanish language podcasts.

New Years Resolutions photo by chrish_99 under CC by 2.0