Are you trying to get back to working out? Or maybe the gym was never your thing, but you’d like to make exercise a habit. Try these unconventional tips to make the gym a more convenient and enjoyable place to be!
1) Just plug the gym address into your GPS
This has worked for me. I don’t care if you know your way to the gym by heart and all the detours to take through traffic. If you’re feeling unmotivated to get to the gym, sometimes all you need is for someone to tell you what to do. Who better to boss you to the gym than your map system’s computerized persona? Call her Siri, Google, Alexa, whatever. We all let her boss us around on a regular basis. And now, she can be your (free) gym accountability buddy, too!
If you don’t drive to the gym, you can still try this. Type the address into your phone, plug your headphones in, make your way to the bus/train stop, and get ready to be told where to go. Sometimes public transportation makes it even easier. If your gym is on the way home, just force your body off the bus/train at the correct stop and trudge to the gym. If today is particularly rough or the weather is really deterring you, bite the bullet and call for a RideShare to your gym. So classy.
2) Develop a crush at the gym*
I don’t think I’ve seen this one in anyone else’s gym motivation tips. I really wonder why… I think having a crush just might be the key to getting anything and everything done.
Trust me, it works.
When I was in grad school, I had a library crush. He was kinda cute, but it wasn’t his looks that had me crushing. So, what did he have going for him? Well, he was a med student, so he was always at the library. He was really a great library role model for me (but I realize I’m talking about the gym in this post. He was a very bad gym role model, as his butt was always in his chair). Whenever I walked up to the 5th floor, there he was, staring at the computer. I started to look forward to studying at the library, just to see if he would be there. It was like some weird inside joke between me and myself. I would smile and laugh to myself whenever I walked by him. I never talked to him, and I never wanted him to talk to me. It was the perfect romance.
Then I graduated and moved away. The end. The point is, it got me to look forward to being in a place that I wasn’t typically thrilled to be.
Once you find that awesome gym crush (or two, or three), you can look forward to seeing their sexy smile acting as your fitness role model, and a trip to the gym will feel like watching a movie starring Dwayne Johnson (or I don’t know, Rhonda Rousey? Insert your favorite celebrity crush that can do at least 15 push-ups: _________.)
*Okay, the gym is a bit more “primal” than the library, so I kinda think we should lay some ground rules for crushes:
Rule #1: There will be no acting on this crush. I repeat. Do not ask your crush out. Do not flirt with him/her. Just let them be the hot sweaty body that you look forward to seeing when you go to the gym. Otherwise, you might run into some awkward situations. If you go out with your crush and it ends horribly… well then you can’t possibly show your face at that gym again. Now, the whole purpose of developing a crush to get your ass motivated to go the gym has been negated. Also, because you’re never going to act on your crush, this means that even people in a relationship can use gym crushes as a motivating factor! Yay, equality for all!
Rule #2: Do not crush on your personal trainer or fitness instructor. Any professional trainer/instructor does not date their clients, so see rule number one, and shove that silly idea aside.
3) Make friends with the staff
As evidenced by my point above, going to the gym is way more enjoyable if you have some friendly interaction or have someone that you look forward to seeing. So why don’t you make friends with the staff?!
Take out an earbud, and smile at the front desk associate who scans your card. Ask how his/her day is. If you’re in the market for a personal trainer, maybe he or she can recommend someone to you? Were you wondering if that smoothie place next door is any good? Chances are the gym staff knows a thing or two about good restaurants nearby. Ask away!
On the gym floor, there might be an opportunity to talk to a personal trainer or even the maintenance staff. Be aware of others around you. Don’t be afraid to ask a person if they are using a piece of equipment. Proper gym etiquette states that they should inform you how many more sets they have on the equipment and offer to work in with you if it’s at all possible. You should do the same. Be friendly, and the gym will be a more enjoyable place for all. Make it your community!
4) Bribe yourself
I don’t recommend bribing or motivating yourself through external rewards for going to the gym. Why? It’s not really sustainable. You shouldn’t have to dangle a carrot in front of your face just to get your body moving. Don’t bribe or reward yourself with food or alcohol. Food does not have to be earned through exercise, and you do not have to “burn off” what you ate.
My recommendation is to “bribe” yourself with an internal feeling… remind yourself of how exercise:
- brings you stress relief,
- acts as a form of anger management / self-expression,
- gives you a sense of accomplishment,
- improves your mood,
- makes you feel strong and empowered, or
- helps you relax or sleep better
Instead of dreading every second and thinking about about how painful the exercises will be, or how much sweat will pour out of your skin… Focus on the feeling you will have upon leaving the gym, after completing your workout and trying your best. Better yet, try a range of different activities to find exercise that you truly enjoy, so that most of the time, you feel good both during and after moving your body.
If you are really into that external reward idea… set some SMART goals that represent a longer term commitment. “If I go to the gym 3 times a week for the next month, then I can…”
- buy a new pair of workout pants or shoes (bonus points because you’re reinvesting in your fitness hobby!)
- get a massage, facial, or manicure
- buy that new awesome thing I’ve been eyeing
5) Skip the gym
Didn’t expect to see this one on here, did you? If you’re having difficulty motivating yourself to go to the gym, and that’s not a usual thing for you… check in with yourself. Are you feeling exhausted?
You know that saying, “You never regret a workout?”
Well, that’s so not true. I’ve regretted plenty of workouts. Like that time I went for a hike, jumped off a ledge and busted my ankle. Like that time I went to the gym and landed a dance move that stubbed my toe so hard, I thought I broke it. Like that time I went for a run, but my plantar fascititis started acting up halfway through, and I had to walk home in the rain, uphill both ways.
Ok, maybe not that uphill part. The point is, you can regret a workout because of an injury. And it’s more likely that you’ll get injured (or re-injured) if you’re tired or overtraining.
- If you haven’t been getting enough sleep for the past few nights, and your body is screaming for you to go home and rest, skip the gym. Without adequate sleep, your muscles won’t recover well after the workout anyway.
- If you’ve worked out multiple days in a row and your body is sore and sluggish, skip the gym. Overtraining can lead to injury as well. If you’re itching to move, consider a non-gym alternative. You could go for a walk, or stretch at home.
Rest days are a an often overlooked but crucial part of your exercise schedule. Give your body time to recover. If you find yourself skipping the gym day after day because you’re sore and/or tired, then it might be time to re-evaluate your sleep schedule or workout structure or schedule. Or, check-in with your doctor and make sure there’s not something else going on with your fatigue.
Be honest and be compassionate with yourself. Listen to your body. You deserve a rest. Find another self-care or “me-time” activity that you can do that doesn’t involve strenuous activity.
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