Are you someone who dreads going to the gym, talk yourself out of it for all kinds of interesting reasons and then end up regretting that decision later? Or perhaps someone who makes it to the gym then doesn’t have a clue what to do once you get there and you’re terrified of going to ‘that’ section where all the men are using weights?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, don’t worry you’re not alone. Through my chats with many different women (and even witnessing and experiencing it for myself) I have noticed that there are so many reasons why our aspirations about exercise and fitness remain just that – aspirations.
I have been an avid gym goer for many years and for the most part I really love it. I love the way it makes me feel physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Don ‘t get me wrong there are times when I really struggle to get there or miss a workout but in my experience there are consistent things I have noticed that make a huge difference as to whether or not I actually get there, and whether or not I absolutely smash that workout.
Here are my top ten tips for how you can ensure your fitness ideals become a reality and to change ‘I will’ into ‘I did’:
1. Create a positive mindset
How many times do you talk yourself out of a workout before you’re even at the gym? ‘I’m not in the mood for this.’ ‘I really don’t want to do this, I would rather be doing x, y, z.’
This negative mindset is not helpful to kick start your motivation and will make that workout all the more challenging rather than rewarding. Instead program yourself to change that negative self-talk into uplifting notions, ‘I am going to rock this workout.’ ‘I am going to feel so happy and in control after this workout.’ ‘This is going to be a great stress relief for me.’
Trust me, you are always going to find an excuse not to exercise if you go looking for one.
2. Set a goal
It’s hard to feel like you have absolutely smashed your workout if you aren’t working towards a goal and don’t know when you have achieved it. Whether that goal is setting a specific duration for your workout, limiting your rest time in between sets to ‘30’ seconds or completing x amount of sets before you allow yourself to look at the clock. Whatever it is set a goal for yourself and stick to it.
3. Get dressed first thing
Give yourself the best chance of achieving your exercise goal for the day by putting your workout gear on first thing. Whether you exercise morning, afternoon or evening, first thing means before you do anything else like making breakfast in the morning, going to the shops at lunch or watching a snippet of TV when you get home. If need-be lay out your exercise kit and caboodle beforehand so you’re ready to go. The likelihood that you will get your exercise in for the day if you do it first thing is pretty high.
4. Create a pumping playlist
I don’t know about you but if I didn’t have my music with me when I hit the gym I guarantee I wouldn’t work out as hard. There is something about having upbeat music pumping in my ears that gets my motivation and blood pumping too. Create a playlist that gets you going, that makes you feel upbeat, happy and powerful. Plus if you’re ‘plugged’ in and loving your own music you won’t be distracted by everything else that is going on around you or have time to whine about the repetitive music playing at the gym.
5. Remember everyone is in the same boat
Why do people exercise? Because it makes them feel good, because they want to look good, because they want a stress relief or distraction from something or they are in recovery. Our bodies, shapes and sizes may be different but we are all in the gym for similar reasons so embrace that and don’t let fear or insecurities get in the way about how you look or how new you are to the gym.
6. Know the benefits
Know how good you are going to feel after a great workout. Your endorphins are released, you feel in control, mentally alert, your cravings have dissipated and you are proud of yourself. Realising the difference exercise makes not only on your physique but also on your mood and energy levels is a wonderful thing.
7. Realise that guys are more into themselves than you
Many women (and some guys for that matter) are super conscious about entering what I call the ‘meat district’ at the gym, you know the weights section that is usually full of pretty beefy looking guys. Females are worried they will be judged, looked down upon or feel silly for not knowing what to do in the weights area. All of these reasons are understandable but let’s get something straight – majority of men I see in the gym are looking at one thing and that is themselves. They are too busy checking themselves out in the mirror, perfecting their technique and making all kinds of cavemen sounds to notice whether or not you did that set in proper form or not. If you feel you need some help on how to use the machines there are always floor staff that are more than happy to show you.
Note: Point number 4 will come in handy to help block out your surroundings.
8. Set yourself a time
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or demotivated about exercising if you are building it up to be something that is going to take a huge chunk of time out of your already busy schedule. The way to overcome this is by setting yourself a time limit. What amount of time can you realistically fit into your schedule on a daily/weekly basis? You don’t need to spend hours in the gym each time to get results. Focus on quality not quantity.
9. Know your routine
How many times have you gone to exercise without really knowing what you are going to work on or do? I often see people get to the gym and dilly-dally around the equipment as if they are browsing a gift store and don’t know what to buy. Write yourself a quick routine/program on a piece of paper or in the notes section of your phone so you are maximising your productivity.
10. Forgive Yourself
Life is busy and responsibilities are high so it’s only natural that there will be times you don’t exercise that day. The key here is to not berate yourself and forgive yourself. It’s not the end of the world if you miss a workout here and there but just make the commitment to yourself that you will get back on the horse (or cross trainer) tomorrow – and by tomorrow I mean tomorrow, not some distant day in the nearby future.