5 Gym Survival Strategies

Few People I know enjoy going to the gym. Often people feel so uncomfortable they forgo their gym experience all together. Here are 5 tips that I have mustered from around the internet to help improve your gym experience.

Originally uploaded by Maximus_W

1.  Have a plan

Showing up to the gym without a plan is kin writing a college paper without knowing the defined topic.  “Hmm, I know I am suppose to write something about Beowulf for my literature class, but I don’t know what.  I will just write about what I saw in the movie and that will cover it.” Having a plan allows those of us that dislike the gym to be there as little time as possible. Go there with nothing planned and you might just end up catching past episodes of Vampire Diaries while walking forever on the treadmill.  The plan you choose should related to your gym goals, not watching old TV episodes.  A list of three exercises you want to do could help you stay focused, it can be as simple or complex as you like it.  Some of my recommendations include; time for going, time allotted for each exercise, rep count, weight or speed goal, and maybe even a new exercise to try.  You do not need to keep an extensive plan, even the simplest list will help you stay on track. If you are one of folks that enjoys planning (I admit it, I love to plan things)  you can even keep an exercise notebook to help keep track of things you accomplish.  Plan as much or as little as you like but just Plan!

2.  Smile at Everyone

A lot of people feel awkward at the gym.  Us larger ladies tend to run for the treadmill hidden in the farthest corner.  Who wants to work on running while panting next to a triathlete?  Being friendly and inviting to people not only helps you stay positive but also opens your gym misery to some fun.  Many of those triathletes enjoy the gym about as much as you do and will be happy to see a friendly face.  Your gym will be less about  groups of strangers hiding on their respective machines and more about interesting people that can help each other out.  Ever been scared to try a fun looking machine because you did not know how it worked? Being friendly opens you up to feeling comfortable asking for help.  I am not saying everyone in your gym is going to be friendly back.  Use your instincts, if someone looks really unfriendly or gives you the creeps don’t try to strike up a conversation.  Give them your winning smile then leave them to their vices.  We can’t know what is going on in everyone’s life, maybe one smile is all they need to make their day better.

3.  Wear whatever is comfortable.

I struggle with this one. When I go to the gym I feel like wearing the baggiest yoga pants and sweatshirt I can find.  I hide underneath my clothes making myself seem larger because of my misfitting clothes.  Bundling up for a workout might seem okay in the beginning, but after a few minutes of sweating you have yards of sweaty fabric sticking to you.  I am not advocating for wearing gym clothes that make self-conscious and uncomfortable.   Choose your clothes wisely,  workout shirts that are designed to sweated in can be extremely useful.  Want a baggier one?  Try the men’s section, they are larger sizes and are not designed to hug all of your goodies!    If you feel comfortable in a pair of cut off jeans and a t-shirt displaying your love to anything feline then that is the perfect outfit for you.

4.  Find a Gym that suits you.

Just because the Gym is two blocks away does not mean it is the Gym for you.  Most cities have dozens of gyms raging from your typically Walmart gym (huge with a little bit of everything but little specially equipment)  to a what I like to call a Boutique gym (small and specialized).  I live in Albuquerque, NM and we seem to have just as many gyms as we have churches.  Due to the number of different gyms it is important to check them out, not all gyms encourage all types of workouts.  For instance,  I tend to gravitate towards the barbell and dumbbell sections (Yes, women need to be strong too but that is topic for another day) because of this Planet Fitness it out of the question. Their selection of weights is focused on light colorful weights,  not the heavy mostly ugly weights that I love to be tortured by.  They lack the equipment that I need for my workouts but if you are a cardio person it might be your perfect place.   Also, check the times that the gym is open versus when would be best for you to go to the gym.  There are some gyms that are open all night, I go to a small gym but it is one of the few gyms in my area that allows me to workout at 2am should the need arise.

5.  Know why you are going to the Gym.

This first one may seem obvious, “I am trying to loose weight.” “I am trying to firm up.”  “I am trying to be healthy.” Whether or not your an all-star athlete or someone venturing into the gym with great hopes of weight loss, you need to know why. Are you going to the gym because a friend wanted a partner and convinced you that you too needed a partner?  Is the gym all about releasing stress?  Do you want to loose weight?  Are you dragging yourself there because that is what you think you are suppose to do?  Understanding your motivation (or lack of) for the gym will help you not only go to the gym more often but feel a since of accomplishment when you do.  Few people want to spend one or two hours doing something and then feeling like they have wasted two prime Buffy the Vampire Slayer hours!

Going to the gym has always been a chore for me. Serving in the military required a certain amount of required gym time but never helped me develop a love for working out as it did some of my pals.  After completing my military time, I rebelled against the gym and it is just now that I am starting to get reacquainted with my old nemesis.  I am A shape rather than IN shape but pushing myself and finding my little victories along with the steps I have listed above has helped me restart what people are now calling my “fitness journey.”


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