10 Tips to Make the Gym More Fun!
I love to workout. But, I'm not an 'expert' at working out. I'm not a fitness guru or really qualified to do more than work everyday to try to improve myself as an individual. I could eat better, find more peace, and exercise stronger just like everyone else on the planet.
Do I sometimes pick at my imperfections and target my own insecurities? Sure! Do I let that stop me from pushing myself to be a healthier person? Absolutely not.
I'd like to share some tips on how to make the gym more fun. I feel that getting up and out of the house is truly the hardest part of working out. I'm writing this post as someone who has a membership but also does at home workouts. So if you're someone who doesn't have a membership and prefers working out at home- don't worry you're absolutely welcome here! The tips will fit both kinds of people. I'm aiming to target some of the key arguments I hear from friends etc who argue against working out. If you have a health condition or other sort of personal issue that prevents you from strenuous activity or higher heart rate, feel free to adapt these to what you are able to do!
tw: weight loss, body image
Now let's get started- HOW could this girl make the gym fun for me? The gym sucks! Well I got some news for you. Let's break it down.
1. Change the Way You Think About Working Out
Honestly, the first step to working out when you don't want to is changing the way you think about exercise, especially at gyms. I think it's dangerous to think of exercise as ONLY a means of weight loss. Obviously, weight loss can be a result of working out but to put pressure on yourself in that way isn't good. By seeing exercise is solely a means of weight loss, there's a distinct level of pressure to perform that can often get out of hand (and veer into harmful practices in regards to food and mental health).
Shift that way of thinking to something more productive for yourself such as, "I'm working out in order to be stronger" or "Exercise will allow me to better understand my body". It's okay to have tangible goals at the gym (Lift X amount weight, Run Y long) but I've found it an incredible relief to shift my goals to abstract things, especially if I'm back to working out after a hiatus. If you think of working out as a means to generally better your health, increase energy, and destress while enjoying some technology-free time (after 2017 I think we all need a minute offline); you'll be able to shift some of the weight (lol) usually felt due to exercise's direct association with weight loss. By changing how you think about working out you allow yourself to conquer the fears and insecurities that working out may cause for you.
2. REMEMBER that Working out is for everyone
Working out is for everyone. I don't know when or how or WHO led the general public to see working out as something reserved for fit/skinny/rich/pretty people. But those are the most common responses I hear when I ask people to the gym. "No, I'm really out of shape." "Noooo all of the girls are so hot I'll feel out of place!" There's no one type of person who works out because every human body needs active stimulation to work at our best capacity mentally and physically. Weight, age, gender, physical fitness- none of these exempt a person from exercise or should make someone feel out of place exercising. There are so many studies that show the extent of how exercise helps us!! So to feel like you're unable to do something good for you because of who you are in any capacity? No bueno.
If you're a female identifying prospective gym goer and being around men makes you feel uneasy (totally understandable) use the buddy system going to a local gym or better yet- sign up for a ladies only gym!
COLLEGE STUDENTS: You should have access to your school's gyms through a free or discounted membership. Take advantage!
If $$ is an issue, look up smaller gyms rather than the luxury branded studios. Yes, a sauna sounds amazing and I wish my own gym had cycling or yoga classes but paying less per month is a bonus I rather have!
Workout from home! There are SO many Youtubers directly focused on Yoga, Zumba, and full body workouts and the best part? No equipment is needed.
3. challenge yourself in a healthy way
In no way do I think I have a perfect body. But, after years of instability with body image and food (as I've written before), I finally feel that at 22 years old- I have a handle on my body. I think that the greatest "gain" I've felt throughout my journey with exercise is the ability to feel like I'm in control.
Oftentimes I feel that I do not have control over my brain, body, or life due to anxiety, life changes, and the stressful industry I'm in. But in so many beautiful ways, working out has allowed me to truly appreciate my strength and endurance while simultaneously pushing myself to healthy challenges. It's so easy to self-destruct but it takes so much more to truly push yourself to challenges that will benefit you.
Above, I spoke about the power of abstract goals in changing mindset. But, I find tangible goals useful when measuring the progress I've made in challenging myself. Healthy challenges are important to mental and physical health because they allow you to see the wonders your body is able to accomplish?
Thoughts like: What do you mean I'm pushing 50 pounds while sitting on that THING with these jiggly thighs?
Quickly turn to: Wow that's so cool how I just moved that huge metal thing with my LEGS. WHAT? Am I Wonder Woman?
See? Healthy challenges let yourself be PROUD of yourself and that's one of the best parts of working out :)
4. wear something you feel comfortable in
LEGGINGS! SPORTS BRAS! SNEAKERS! HOODIES! SWEATS! I LOVE ALL OF IT!!!
Workout clothes are hands down one of my FAVORITE parts of working out. I get to wear obnoxiously bright colors? All of the clothing is comfy? Sign me up!
I used to be super insecure about what I wore working out because I felt I looked fat in everything. I think the first time I wore leggings to the gym like the ones above (patterned, very cute but a little loud) I was a freshman in college. I was 19 when I realized that leggings didn't have a weight requirement. When I began to find clothing that I felt comfortable in, I slowly started pushing destructive thoughts out of mind and embracing what I found worked for me. I used to wear baggy shirts and shorts in an effort to hide my thighs or stomach. Newsflash everyone: we all have thighs and tummies because they're normal, beautiful, and most importantly natural parts of our bodies!!
When you exercise in clothing that you can move in AND feel cute in- you've stumbled upon a winning combo for a glorious workout. Let yourself experiment! Find out if you prefer shorts or long sweats or leggings! Discover if a padded bra or lightly lined one is right for you! Notice if you feel restricted in a tank top but feel free in a lightweight long sleeve tee! Clothing is for everyone so don't ever be afraid to wear what you're comfy in.
Whatever you choose, remember that as long as YOU feel good about what you're wearing you will have a better workout and definitely enjoy going to the gym more.
Let yourself feel cute!
Here's an example of one of my recent gym outfits.
5. make an awesome playlist
Music. Music. Music. With creating an epic playlist, you'll feel more motivated (tempo/beats help you sync your steps and reps), you'll be distracted during cardio (me rapping on a treadmill is pure comedy, trust me), and you have distraction-free time to listen to your favorite artists. When I'm working out, listening to music is pivotal to me starting and finishing strong. Whether you're into show tunes or heavy metal, figure out what gives you that adrenaline rush and pair it with your workout that day. There's nothing like your favorite singer hitting a high note and you finally finishing your set.
Need something new to workout too? Here's my gym playlist- it's a mix of pop, hip-hop, and a ton of throwbacks. Everyone's workout flows differently so feel free to workout entirely to this or pick your favs and make a playlist of your own!
6. get a bag together so it's easier for you
This is going to sound weird but prepping a bag before you go to the gym will help you get the motivation to go. It's like setting out clothes the night before or meal prep. When the act is already started, you feel more inclined to finish. If I'm working out in the morning- I try to get my bag and clothing ready the night before. Then, once I wake up the next day, my packed bag is right in my eyeline and I go for it.
Gym essentials don't have to be anything out of this world. Personally, I pack headphones, an extra hair tie, a lock, and chapstick. I feel like a lot of people get scared off by the towels, protein shakes, and extra equipment that others bring. Bring what you need to bring to the gym! Working out is all about concentrating on yourself and listening to yourself. If you don't think you need a yoga mat, ankle weights, and elastics to workout- that's cool! Someone else might but don't let that think you're doing less than them in any way.
7. go with friends
Working out with friends has made going to the gym infinitely better for me. A default friend hangout is usually drinks or dinner. But when you work out with friends, you're able to catch up, sweat out any negativity from your lives, and it allows you to leave feeling productive and happy (#Endorphins). Who wouldn't want to dispel negativity and leave a hangout feeling focused and refreshed? It may feel weird at first but there's definitely a trust that's built when you work out with a good friend. They won't judge you for looking sticky, they'll push you to a better workout, plus together you can take mirror selfies and show everyone your distinct Wonder Woman status!
8. diversify your workouts
By diversifying your workouts during each muscle group (legs, arms, core/back) you allow yourself to try out new things AND beat boredom. Switching between free weights, exercise machines, indoor/outdoor workouts, and different cardio methods can really make a difference in making a workout more fun! I happen to get bored with a consistent workout routine if it only involves the same motions or general activities. But, there's an endless amount of ways to work the same muscle groups and learning a new workout is a great way to challenge yourself! By changing up how you workout, you keep your body feeling fresh and your mind actively engaged with what you're doing. Try adding a quick yoga flow to your cool down! Small steps make big changes.
9. download an App
Recently, I've started using the Nike+ Run Club App to inspire me to run more. I'm not a great runner but I do enjoy how I feel after I finish a run. I've tried a few run tracking apps but this is the first one that's really stuck. It provides a professional Nike coach to guide you through your time- based run. The coaches give you motivational (but NOT cheesy) advice while you run and truly do an amazing job of making you remember why you're running. It's an exercise app but somehow puts me in an amazing mental state. I think apps can be an incredible way of getting more out of a workout and making it more fun. I've heard a lot of great feedback on apps that have preloaded workouts that are customizable to your individual progress level and workout interests. So cool!! I intend to check out more apps but highly recc the Nike+ Run Club app!
10. remember you're there for you.
Self care is incredibly important! Working out is a great way to spend time with yourself while also working towards a personal goal. Listen: no matter what anyone else is doing... make yourself the focus of your workout. Life stretches all of us thin and through exercise we are able to rebuild our energy, harness strength, and approach life face forward. It's okay to be self focused- its very different from being self centered. Working out allows you regain control on hectic days and come back to earth during times of stress. In no way do I think it's the only thing that should be done for mental or physical health- again, I'm not a fitness guru just a girl who likes to workout. But, I do think that the gym can truly be fun for anyone if they customize their experience to something that benefits them as an individual.