Going to the gym isn't something we should dread but something we should see as spending time effectively to improve ourselves so that we can live better and more comfortably. You don't need to be a competitive, professional level athlete to get some great benefits from regular gym attendance. And let's remember too that 1 hour out of 24 is only 4%. Crazy, isn't it? That small investment [and you don't even need to go every single day] can bring some amazing rewards.
I came to the realization a few years ago that I would not be able to pursue everything in life that I wanted to. There just isn't time. I had to pick and choose those things that have lasting value and spend my time and effort there. And those goals and dreams can change as I get older but fitness really does play an important part in most everything we do.
So if you've decided that improving your fitness is going to be something to tackle in the new year, here's a few tips to ensuring you have yearlong success.
Don't Try to Climb the Mountain in One Day - It is important to keep intensity in your training but if you've been sedentary for a few months, it's better to dial things back and slowly ramp up. This doesn't mean you can 'dog' it for the first two months but rather, listen to your body, start slowly, and do a little more every time you're in the gym. If you dive in head first on day one your chance for injury greatly increases and muscle soreness and fatigue will drive you away. Slow and steady wins the race. Every time.
Be Honest About Your Track Record - If you don't have a great history for keeping yourself motivated, be honest with yourself about it and sign up for group classes. The group setting might be a bit intimidating at first, but it's by far the best way to ensure you put the work in. And having an instructor who is a positive reinforcement can make all the difference too. If you're the type that always finishes long term projects that you start, then training at home might be a solution too.
Stay Close to Home - The further away the gym is from home, the less likely it is that you'll still be there a year from now. We all want convenience and driving more than 20 minutes to the gym will start to gnaw on your nerves as well as take away from your personal time. Fitness is really taking the country by storm so if you do a little digging, you will probably find 2-3 group classes within a few minutes of the homestead and supporting local business is a great thing to do to. Don't commit without trying a few classes. It's normally $15-$20 for a drop in at most any gym. Try them out first before making a big commitment. Having an instructor that pushes you is not a bad thing but some gyms might fit better with your personality than others.
Keep Your Attendance Routine - Being sporadic with gym attendance is a sure fire way to fizzle. Showing up at 6AM on one day then 6PM another isn't the ideal plan for success. For me, early morning has worked best. For those with a family at home, it's a great balance to get your gym time out of the way before everyone else starts their day. Then when you come home from work, you can give them all of your attention. And keeping a schedule, no matter what time of day works best for you, is essential in forming a positive habit.
Mix Things Up - CrossFit® gyms are especially good at keeping your workouts varied, intense and effective. That variation will keep your body and mind more engaged and you'll see results sooner. It is true that mastery and variety don't mix, but in a lifelong pursuit of fitness, variety has proven over and over to be the most effective. And most coaches that have adequate time and experience in the business can still keep training varied while keeping you on a good path for mastery.
Get the Right Training Partner - Having a training partner can be one of the best things to motivate you but can also take you down if you choose the wrong one. Not everyone has the same goals and you'll need to find someone that is a great compliment to your personality. Don't look to them to be your only source of motivation. You both have to contribute equally. I've seen the same set of three ladies in a running group for years. It's fantastic to see how they've stuck together and their partnership has become a great friendship.
The Timer is a Great Motivator - If your only option is to train alone, the gym timer can be a great tool to keep you motivated if you have no coach or partner. Not only can it be used to track your improvement by timing yourself on workouts you've completed in the past, but there are a few other ways to incorporate it to keep you on track. Instead of counting up from zero, program your timer to count down from 12:00 or more and keep working until the buzzer goes off. Another great way to use the timer is with EMOM [Every Minute on the Minute] workouts where each minute you've got a set number of reps to do with rest allowed until the next minute comes up. There are a ton of ways to get creative in using a timer when there isn't any one else there to push you.
Need some more inspiration to get yourself on track for the new year? We've written a series of blog posts to keep you motivated and ideas on how to use your equipment to the fullest. Here's a few of them. And reach out to us on social media - Facebook, Google or Twitter to keep in the know on all things Hammerhead.
- Redesign Your Home Gym
- Setting Fitness Goals
- Is Your Training Program Losing It's Luster?
- Gymnastics Rings - Get Built Like a Gymnast