I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the gym since I was 14, with on and off memberships. My 16 year old self was truly dedicated to going to the gym but the dedication soon wore off once I got my hands on a fake ID and swapped gymming for going out with my friends. Despite rejoining the gym after quitting, I’d fallen out of the swing of things and 12 months later with over £500 wasted, I realised that I was literally throwing money away. Despite all of this, I was still reluctant to quit. It felt like admitting defeat, so stubborn me decided to force myself to go to the gym a minimum of 4 times a week. Fast forward a month and I am noticing SO many benefits of regularly exercising, not only physical ones. Here are a few pieces of wisdom to release your inner gym addict (just please DO NOT become one of those people that posts “gym selfies” every single day).
- Actually go to the gym. Pretty obvious, yes. But evidently this makes it the most important point. I spent hours talking myself out of leaving the house to go and exercise but every excuse I had was ridiculous. I used to blame the cold weather (despite the gym being indoors and heated), or I’d tell myself that I would go tomorrow (nope, that never happened). The excuses were ENDLESS. Also, I’d be racked with guilt as I’d know that my excuses were rubbish and then think “hey, I may as well eat a load of rubbish because I’ve already fallen at the first hurdle.” By not even trying to talk yourself out of it, you’re already halfway out of the door. Just get up and go.
- Step out of your comfort zone. I don’t mean start lifting weights three times the size of you! I think that it is easy to go to the gym, run on a treadmill for 15 minutes to try and avoid anyone watching you and then leaving. There is a common misconception that people in the gym are focussing entirely on what you are doing but in all honesty, nobody cares what you are doing, they’re too focussed on their own workouts. Instead of limiting your workout, ask a trainer for help or attend a class. You’ll learn various new exercises and, most importantly, learn the correct techniques to prevent any sports related injuries. By throwing yourself in the deep end to begin with, you’ll gain a lot of confidence regarding equipment and not be afraid to try new things in the future.
- Change your workout routine. As mentioned in (2), I’d highly recommend gym classes. Being in a room full of people that are all doing the same exercises as you encourages you to persevere through the pain/tiredness. There are a variety of classes to choose from, which means there is little chance that your gym routine will be monotonous. I try to aim for a minimum of 3 personal workouts a week and 3 classes a week. As an added bonus, it also provides me with the ability to work out different areas of my body throughout the week.
- Have a gym buddy. This point differs from person to person. I personally enjoy having someone to travel to the gym with but when it comes to working out I am much more productive when by myself (unless in a class). This is due to a variety of factors but mostly because a) sometimes I want to go to the gym, exercise, then leave in order to have some “me” time. Car sharing is fine but once I’m in the gym I enjoy my own space. b) each individual has their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, I can happily do ab exercises for an extended period of time but I’m awful with running due to a lack of cartilage in my knees. Each workout should be tailored to you, not someone else. Despite my unsociability in the gym, having someone to travel with is a bonus because it’s an extra push to make you leave the house.
- Set yourself manageable goals that are not weight orientated. When I first got back into my gym routine, I was weighing myself about 3 times a week. Seeing little evidence of exercise on the scales really disappointed me. However, I decided to focus on improving my strength and stamina rather than losing weight. It worked! I have gone from 20kg weighs on the abductor to 35kg, I can plank for 5 minutes (when I began I struggled with 30 secs) and now I only use 30kg for assisted pull-ups after beginning with 60kg ALL WITHIN A MONTH! If I had focussed on my weight for the past month, all motivation would probably be out of the window by now. Try setting your own goals and trust me, you’ll be addicted!
- Enjoy it. At the end of the day, if you really don’t enjoy going to the gym then it may just not be for you. There are a number of alternative ways to exercise without a gym so give those a go! You could also try changing gyms. I’ve always been a member at Virgin Active and I love it because of the friendly atmosphere as well as the facilities that are available. However, I have visited other gyms with friends and some have come across as intimidating or male orientated. Find a gym that suits you and your needs!
Evidently, I’m not a gym expert but I hope my findings can be of use to you. Let me know if you have any gym tips or have had an on/off relationship with the gym like I have!