A Guide to Falling In Love with the Gym *

Hello, I have a guest post today, but just before I get on with that I wanted to say thanks to everyone who asked about my mum- I realise I have been posting sporadically recently, and it was only when I was reading a few old posts I realised I hadn’t mentioned how she is doing.  She’s recovering well, resting at home, so it’s a huge relief to know she is on the mend.

Anyway, onto the post:

A Guide to Falling In Love with the Gym

Gyms can be incredibly useful places if you want to boost your strength and cardio. But a lot of people have a hard time actually enjoying themselves at the gym! This becomes quite discouraging, and may result in you never going (although chances are you won’t cancel the membership!).

So we’re going to take a quick look at some of the best ways to increase your enjoyment of (or, rather, decrease your displeasure with!) the gym.

Keep it close

A lot of people choose to go to a gym that’s closer to where they work because it allows them to get exercise in either before work or just afterwards, just before they go home. This makes sense at first, but a lot of people actually end up shirking their gym responsibilities with such a plan in mind. There will be days where you just don’t want to work out so close to work in the morning.

Likewise, there will be times where you leave work way too exhausted to get a proper workout into your day. This is valid even if you’re working in what you may consider a low energy office job. Office jobs often demand quite a lot of mental energy, and you shouldn’t underestimate the effects of this. “Brain fatigue” can make you feel very tired in a physical sense, demotivating you from getting a good physical workout after a stressful day. (It is worth pointing out there there are studies out there that dispute mental exertion having a negative effect on physical exertion – however, mental exertion may still demotivate you if you’re not careful.)

Those who haven’t signed up to a gym closer to work may still have signed up to one that’s quite far away from home simply because it’s a bit cheaper than a gym which happens to be closer. But the fact is that a gym that’s too far away from home – whether close to work or not – is going to create a lot of inconvenience. As smart as it may seem to do otherwise, it really is best to sign up for a gym that’s closer to home, as long as it has the facilities you need.

Get assistance

One of the best ways to ensure you enjoy the gym and get a bit more out of it is by getting a personal trainer. A lot of gyms have personal trainers in the vicinity who can help you out, either on a short-term basis, a long-term basis, or even for just a session or two! Speaking of personal trainers, you could consider turning the gym into your workplace by becoming a personal trainer using resources such as Origym. A lot of gym fanatics take up this sort of career because of its relevance to their interest, as well as the convenience of location and getting free gym memberships!

If you’re not quite ready to actually become one, then it’s still worth keeping working with one in mind. A lot of people who become disenchanted with gyms or even exercise in general find themselves reinvigorated when they work with a personal trainer. They hold you accountable, making sure you stick to your weekly goals. They teach you how to do certain exercises safely and effectively, which can help ensure that both your cardio exercises and your strength exercises do your body as much good as possible while avoiding common dangers.

Part of the greatness that personal trainers provide is in the company and encouragement they provide, as well as the more practical assistance. With this in mind, it’s also worth considering bringing friends with you along to the gym. Some people don’t like the idea of going to the gym with friends because they want to keep exercises as private as possible, but bringing a friend along is definitely worth trying if you’ve found yourself not using your gym membership much as of late. It turns the endeavour into a social activity, which helps boost our happiness in the gym.

Overcome anxiety

Another reason having a friend or a personal trainer is good is because it helps you overcome gym anxiety – something that a lot of people suffer from, and something that could very well be the cause of most gym absences! Anxiety, in general, is a pretty difficult thing to overcome. If you have a problem with it in a lot of areas in your life, then you should definitely consider seeking professional help. A lot of people assume that a doctor can’t do much about anxiety, but this isn’t true. Getting formal assistance with anxiety problems can definitely help, but there are specific things about gyms that can make people feel particular anxious.

Let’s try simplifying the issue. You can pin the reasons for gym anxiety down to four things: uncertainty, comparison, judgment, and exclusion. Uncertainty is common in the first few sessions, often because you’re not exactly sure what to do, where to go, what equipment to use first or how to use that equipment, etc. Defeating this can be done by researching the gym and equipment carefully before you go, and attending with a friend familiar with the place or a personal trainer.

Comparison is something many of us have had a problem with; we see someone who’s stronger or faster and become discouraged. See that person instead as having qualities you want to work towards. Honestly, the other people at the gym don’t care! This is something you need to remember when it comes to feeling judged while you’re there; chances are you’re not being judged at all. As for a feeling of “not belonging” at the gym, this is something that will pass the more you go.

Don’t always rely on the gym!

Remember: if you do all your exercise at the gym and you keep having negative experiences there, then this will create negative associations with exercise in general. Don’t let this happen! Make sure you do strength exercises at home, as well as cardio anywhere you can. There are probably amazing scenic areas in which to run somewhere around where you live. You don’t have to go to the gym every time you get a desire to get a good workout!

Are you a gym fan? If so what do you like about your gym? When I was a member I ended up going to the classes, as they were all included. I had an induction and used some of the equipment but often I would end up waiting as it didn’t have many of each machine/ piece of equipment, and the mats and weights area was very dominated by men who loved to stare at themselves in the mirror while lifting weights. If you don’t rely on a gym, what do you like to do? Of course running is top of my list, but after starting classes back in the autumn, yoga is now a firm favourite with me (I still can’t touch my toes with straight legs but I think I am getting a little bit closer)- my mind is calmer after a session and although it works on strength, it is also not as stressful (in the high-impact sense) as running is.

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