A goal is a dream with a plan, as they say. But setting a goal isn’t as simple as you may think – if you want to achieve it, that is.

Here’s our formula for setting fitness goals that stick. It is based upon the widely-used SMART goals model, and we use it with our clients all the time.

Setting SMART Goals


A SMART fitness goal is:

  4. REALISTIC, and


Not vague. ‘I want to be fitter’ isn’t going to cut it. Think about how you want to look and feel, and what you want to be able to do. Clearly define what you want to achieve. Be precise about your goal, answering the questions of who, what, where, when, and why. For example, instead of a vague goal like “exercise more,” specify it as “walk 30 minutes every day.”


Figure out how you’re going to measure it. Body measurements, number of workouts per week, how long you can hold a plank, or how many push-ups you can do. Establish criteria to quantify your progress. This provides a way to track your success and stay motivated. Using our example, “walk 30 minutes every day” is measurable because you can track the time spent walking each day.


What steps (actions) are you going to take to reach your goal? In this case, how often will you work out? What will you do? What other dietary or lifestyle habits will you implement to support your fitness goal? Setting an achievable goal is motivating and encourages continued effort. If walking 30 minutes a day is realistic for you, it meets the achievable criterion.


In terms of timing and what’s possible. Be realistic – but that doesn’t mean don’t be ambitious! Don’t be afraid to have a big goal! You CAN see big results, but be realistic about the timing (next point). At the same time, doing too much too fast, or in an unsafe way is a no-go. If improving cardiovascular health is a priority for you, then the goal of daily walking is relevant.

If you need clarity on what’s realistic for you, we’re happy to help you figure that out.


Set a deadline. One of the reasons we check-in with clients for assessments on a regular basis is to evaluate progress towards goals and set new ones. Even if you have one big overarching goal, it works really well to set smaller ones and build upon them. For instance, instead of saying “walk 30 minutes every day,” you could specify “walk 30 minutes every day for the next 30 days.”

Combining all these elements, a SMART goal could look like this: “I will walk for 30 minutes every day after work for the next 30 days to improve my cardiovascular health and increase my daily physical activity.”

Remember, adapting SMART criteria to your specific situation and needs will enhance the effectiveness of goal setting.

Need Some Help?

So there you go. Using this formula will give you a much higher likelihood of success – and it works just as well for non-fitness related goals so use it freely!

Need some help? That’s what we are here for!

At Nielsen Fitness, we’re here to lift you up. Work with us in our private training studio in Leaside for a top-notch workout. Learn about Leaside studio training. And if home is where your heart is, our in-home personal training across Toronto has you covered. See our in-home training in Toronto.

A Nielsen Fitness trainer can help you set and reach your S.M.A.R.T goals.

Not in Toronto? No worries. We’ve got in-home training in HamiltonLondonOttawa, and Collingwood. Plus, our virtual personal training offers flexibility to fit any schedule, anywhere.

Ready to kickstart your health journey? Reach out for a complimentary workout and fitness assessment. It’s just one click to a fitter you.