Officially signed up for your gym membership? Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step toward a (hopefully long-term) relationship with exercise. Don’t be surprised by highs and lows, good times and bad, achievements and setbacks.
Even the most enthusiastic and dedicated newbies crash and burn. Despite the best of intentions, you can quickly end up bored and miserable. There will be times when it seems tough or even impossible to get to the gym. Here’s what you can do to make the gym your sacred space (instead of a dreaded destination) – a place of opportunity providing you with the space, equipment, tools and resources to live a healthy, happy life.
WELCOME A NEW NORM
Working out is now part of your weekly routine. Say goodbye to the days of hitting snooze five times, guzzling coffee and arriving groggy at work. An early morning indoor cycling class jumpstarts your day with energy and endorphins. Instead of relieving work stress with happy hour drinks or crashing on the couch, rejuvenate the mind and activate your muscles with a post-work weightlifting session. Think of it as your new norm, and eventually your regular workouts will become as essential as food and sleep.
DETERMINE YOUR BASELINE
You need to know where you’re starting from to be able to track your progress accurately. It’s not just about your weight and measurements; it’s about understanding your mindset and fitness goals, to develop reasonable steps to achieve them.
Schedule an assessment with a professional. A health and fitness consultation will help you evaluate your current fitness level, health age and potential risks, and then choose the best path to take action on your goals.
FIND YOUR RHYTHM
Getting into (and staying in) shape is more than just hours at the gym. A commitment to fitness requires introspection. Determine why you want to be in shape. Discover how you can make that happen: what sets you up for success and failure each day, every week? Maybe you always need to work out on Monday to start the week right. Always ready to talk yourself out of a workout? Is there a little voice telling you “it’ll never work”? Brian Grasso, CEO of Mindset Performance Institute, says pushing that voice aside and forcing yourself into positive thinking doesn’t work. He recommends a three-step plan to put that voice in perspective.
Progress is motivating. How much more weight can you lift? How many more reps can you do? How much stronger do you feel? One of the fastest ways to get bored at the gym is to get there to get it over with. Challenge yourself. Measure your performance. Track your results. Going through the motions of mindless movement won’t exactly inspire most people to return the next day. Can you run longer or faster on the treadmill? What happens when you switch to bodyweight training, or join a dance class? Improved performance, rather than just logging time, will motivate your next workout.
Breathing heavily or feeling sore (not pain) is natural. Every time you push your comfort zone in the gym, you’re getting better and stronger, mentally and physically. The comfort zone is the danger zone.
Sore muscles can occur with the start of a new exercise program, a change in existing exercise routine or an increase in intensity. Dr. Jonathan Folland, expert in neuromuscular physiology, says in an interview with NHS, “Soreness is part of an adaptation process that leads to greater stamina and strength as the muscles recover and build.”
Embrace feeling uncomfortable and use that feeling as a metric. Your goal is to reach new thresholds. What may have felt impossible to perform last month may be easier to accomplish this month. Applaud your victory! You’ll get amped for what you can achieve next.
BUILD A WORKOUT WARDROBE
Stylish new workout clothes can also keep your amped levels high for your next killer gym session. Ditching old running shorts and worn T-shirts for patterned tights and performance shirts, however, can get costly. Build your workout wardrobe one piece at time. Set gym goals and a workout budget. Achieve a goal and reward yourself with a new item (much better than food or drinks!). Or upgrade your workout with fitness toys and gear. A high-tech jump rope, TriggerPoint foam roller or activity-tracking fitness headphones can elevate your workout experience.
SWITCH IT UP
Avoid burnout and plateaus by varying your routine and trying new workouts. Training in a variety of ways forces your body to adapt to new stimuli. As a result, your body progresses and becomes more efficient.
Coordinator of exercise science at the University of New Mexico Len Kravitz tells the WSJ: “An exerciser doing the same exercises in the same sequence will eventually learn how to do the work with less and less caloric expenditure and fewer muscles. We sometimes call this adaptation metabolic efficiency.”
Changing up your workout challenges your muscles and refreshes your mindset.
Program your workouts with HIIT or plyometric exercises or experience group fitness classes like Zumba, indoor cycling and strength training. You can even schedule personal training to customize and transform your fitness plan with a tailored approach. Your trainer brings the knowledge, guidance and inspiration. You just have to bring the enthusiasm to start and follow these tips to keep going.