I’ve been seeing these memes on Instagram and they need to stop.
Yes, January 1st brings the New Years Resolutioners out in force, and eventually people stop coming. No one likes an overcrowded gym, but think about what that drop off really means. People who genuinely wanted to make a change in their life struggled to make it happen – and eventually gave up.
Joining a gym can be an intimidating experience, and attitudes like this are not helping! If you’re going to be starting a new fitness routine in 2019, here are five ways to help the habits stick.
1 – Get Familiar
Visit the gym without workout clothes. If it’s your first day, try to get a feel for the environment. Sit down, read a magazine, listen to some music. Use the bathroom, get a drink of water. It’s hard enough to start a workout routine when you’re running around looking for equipment in an unfamiliar place.
You don’t have to stay there long, just ten-twenty minutes will do. The gym is a place where you take care of yourself. You pay your membership fees just like everyone else, it is as much your place as it is theirs.
If you didn’t get a tour when you signed up, ask the front desk if there is someone to show you around. It saves you from having to wander around on your own, and you get to become familiar with someone who works there.
2 – Start-up Session
Many commercial gyms offer a free fitness assessment or training session. From an economic standpoint, they want to sell personal training services. However, it’s a great way to learn what you need to work on so that you’re not walking in and wondering what to do. Plus, getting to meet a trainer means there will be a familiar face the next time you go.
3 – Be Prepared
Have your workout gear ready the night before. Pack a bag with your sneakers, water bottle, headphones, and workout clothes so you can grab and go.(Seriously, have the headphones. Nothing is worse than getting to the gym and realizing I left them at home.)
Know what your workout session is going to look like before you get there. Are you working on a specific program? Will you be focusing on strength or cardio? Are you using machines or free weights or a mix of both? Does your gym offer fitness classes?
Visualizing your exercise session before it happens will not only get you prepared, it will help cut down on wasted time wondering what to do next.
4 – Plan Reasonably
Keep It Simple, Squad.
Progress does not happen overnight, no matter how hard you try to make it happen. Pushing yourself to go 5-6 times a week when you haven’t been in months (or years or ever) is a surefire way to burn yourself out. Start slow and flexible. Try for 2-3 visits a week to start, and see how it feels.
Remember that missing one day is not the end of the world. Building healthy habits takes time. When I was a teenager, I’d rather hide at the end of my driveway for 10 minutes than take a half-mile walk when my mom asked me to. Now, going to the gym is not only part of my routine but something I look forward to.
READ THIS: How To Stop Sabotaging Your Goals for Good
5 – Tune Out
Not just with your music either, remember those headphones in your bag?
Memes like the one at the top can make people feel uncomfortable at the gym. Even if you don’t have social anxiety, there is a real fear of being judged when you’re new to the gym. But I’m here to let you in on a secret: no one cares.
For the most part, everyone is coming to the gym for the same reason as you – to work on becoming stronger and healthier. People are usually too focused on themselves and their own routine to really notice what anyone else is doing. If you do find that someone is staring at you, odds are they want to see what your shirt says. That, or they want to figure out what exercise you are doing so they can do it, too.
There will always be a few jerks anywhere you go, but that’s when you need to tune it out. They don’t know you, they don’t matter to you.
You’re going to the gym for yourself and what it can do for you. Don’t let anyone shallow enough to be judgmental at the gym take that away from you.
The last thing may be the most controversial – if getting into the rhythm of going to the gym is difficult, maybe it isn’t for you.
*freeze frame* Did Ray really say that?
Yes. But please note, I didn’t say to stop exercising. Commercial gyms are not the only place you can go to work out. Some people do better with more specialized studios that focus on specific classes. Try spin, HIIT, pilates, yoga, boxing, Crossfit, or anything else. These studios have more structure, more personal instruction, and a feeling of community.
Other people find the flexibility of working out at home. With the rise of streaming classes (like Daily Burn and Beachbody on Demand) it’s easier than ever to get a wide library of at-home videos.
However you plan on getting your exercise in this year, make sure you make it enjoyable. Enjoying your exercise is the best way to make your new fitness routine stick.
What worked for you in 2018? What didn’t? What are your plans for 2019? Let me know in the comments!