Ah, the gym in January. Every class is full to capacity. Every weight machine is being used. Every person selling gym memberships is busy, busy, busy. Every personal trainer is booked. Then by the end of January, half of these new gym members are gone, and classes go back to the regular amount of attendees. By March, at least half of the new members are not working out, wasting their memberships and money to boot. As a matter of fact, half of you who start working out will stop after just a few months.
Why is this? Because “working out,” according to most people, is too hard, too time-consuming, too boring and sort of painful. How can you keep this from happening to you? Let’s look at some ways to make exercise a priority in your life and keep you going to the gym or exercising for good this time.
First, gyms are actually clubs; they all have their own feel, equipment and members. This is why there are so many women-only gyms, many women are too shy to work out in front of guys. Try a few different places before you invest your money and time. Most gyms offer a free trial period; just be bold enough to move on if you find that one or more are not for you. For example, if you are new to working out, you might not want to join that body building gym. Who wants a huge, muscle-bound guy asking when you are going to get off that machine? Some gyms are like singles bars, with everyone dressed in cute outfits trying to talk to each other. You may want the social interaction or you may just want to be left alone. Find a gym that you feel comfortable in.
Second, location, location, location… Pick a gym that is close to work, school or home, or on the way there and back. A gym or a class that is easy to get to will help keep you from making excuses not to work out.
Getting started: Start slowly if you are not used to exercise. Joining the gym and then taking every class you can, using every weight machine and going crazy with exercise at first is just a bad idea. Over-doing it in the beginning leads to a sore body, injury and burnout. Start slowly if you are new to exercise. If you have never exercised start with half-hour workouts for a week or two, and then move on to hour-long workouts and classes. If you are an intermediate exerciser, go three times a week and then move up to however many gym visits you have time for after a week or two.
If you are new to the gym, get a personal trainer, hands down. It’s worth every penny. Even if money is tight, get at least five sessions. This will give you a perfect workout designed for your body, not the 75% of the population represented in large classes or workout DVDs. It may seem like a lot of money to spend, but if getting some help at first keeps you in the gym all year long, why not? You will save money in the long run by not wasting your gym membership.
Don’t judge. Just try something new. Try everything and choose activities that you enjoy. You may be pleasantly surprised by that yoga or pilates class that you had thought was too easy. You may end up having a favorite weight machine or routine that makes you feel better than you expected.
How about working out very early before work? After work, people tend to be tired and hungry. Many of my clients (and I myself) like to kick off our day with some exercise. Then it’s out of the way, and you will find that it gives you more energy throughout the day. Getting up early and exercising just feels great. As many of you who read my blog know, I get up very early and practice Qi Gong in my local park and run and stretch.
I am asked all the time, what the best thing to do to get in shape? “Is this bad?” “Is this better?” “Will this help me?”
Overall, my answer is, whatever motivates you as an individual and gets you exercising consistently should be your goal. Making exercise a priority and working out at least twice a week contributes myriad benefits to your health and mental well-being. Go ahead. Make the time and take the time to get healthy!