Several years ago, I was with you on this one. The thought of having to put on workout clothes, get in the car, drive to the gym, and find the motivation to use the machines and free weights while trying not to look weak and clumsy was paralyzing. Most of the time I made up some excuse not to go. I didn’t want to deal with the hassle, not to mention having to face all those mirrors in the room—constant reminders of just how much I needed to be there.
I soon realized there were limitations to an at-home-only workout program. Although there are plenty of exercises I could do without leaving the house, it was obvious there were certain muscle groups that would benefit from using specialized equipment.
Somehow I couldn’t imagine bringing a 500-pound leg press machine into the bedroom . . .
So I began hitting the gym a couple times a week for a “machine fix.” At first it was tough. I didn’t know how to use most of the equipment, and I felt uncomfortable sensing others were watching my overweight, out-of-shape body struggling with basic form and balance.
But I told myself I was starting from where I was, and most likely, everyone else in the room had done the same thing.
In essence, I gave myself permission to try, to do the best I could with the strength and endurance I had. I told myself in time, I would get better, stronger, and more comfortable with the process. I was there for a reason. I wanted to change my body. I wanted to look better, younger, and have more energy. And a little embarrassment wouldn’t keep me from getting the results I wanted.
Ready to give the gym a try?
Start by keeping your weight loss and exercise goals simple. I broke my objectives down into five parts:
(1) I showed up. The fact that I made it into the building was an indication I was already changing.
(2) I approached results in the short-term with realistic expectations. I was determined to lose ten pounds in the first month. But for me and my metabolism, that wasn’t realistic. And when I missed my goal by two pounds, I was depressed for a week. In fact, I thought about quitting the gym completely. Today, I know bodies are different. If you haven’t exercised in years, you’ll need time to adjust to new levels of exertion. If you overdo it—as most newbies are prone to do in the first month—you’ll set yourself back a week or more as your body heals itself.
(3) I set my long-term workout goals based on not only how I looked, but how I felt. You may be determined to fit into a size four, but if you have to starve your body of necessary nutrients while pushing yourself to your physical limit during workouts, you’ll end up feeling lousy, tired, and irritable. And that’s simply not healthy.
(4) I stopped eating garbage food. To spend all that time and effort at the gym and then pick up a double cheeseburger and fries on the way home made no sense. I refused to sabotage my diet by feeding the monster inside me that wanted to prevent me from being healthy and in shape.
Today, my gym workouts are a regular part of my life. I keep a handy bag with exercise clothes in the back of the car so it’s easy to squeeze in a session on the way to or from work, during a lunch break, or in place of happy hour. And that’s a far cry from the way I used to feel about stepping inside those doors.
When asked how I overcame the initial reluctance and embarrassment, I offer this:
- Start with short sessions to become acquainted with the environment and equipment. Tell yourself you’ll try it for thirty minutes and move from station–to-station, using the machines on the lightest settings. If you don’t know how to adjust a machine, ask someone. You’ll be surprised how willing others are to help—in the beginning, they had to learn, too.
- The first month is quitter month. More people quit the gym in the first 30 days than in any other time period. If you can get through the first month, you’ve just made it past the biggest hurdle to using the gym on a regular basis. Even when you don’t feel like it . . . go. Do some stretching and use light dumbbells. You may find your motivation and energy level change after you get started.
- Not all gyms are created equal. Visit several before joining. You may be more comfortable with a women’s only gym or prefer the social aspect of a co-ed environment. Ask if the company offers a trial period during which you can cancel your membership without charge or penalty. And if possible, avoid long-term contracts. Always start out month-to-month until you’re sure that specific gym is the one for you.
- Alternate your routine. This allows your muscles to rest and rebuild, and provides an overall fitness result. For example, in a typical workout, I spend about thirty minutes on aerobic and floor exercise, twenty minutes on the machines and free weights, and fifteen minutes doing yoga and stretching.
Want to know more?
Email me at [email protected] with any questions or comments you have. In a future post, I’ll go into more detail about my specific workout, and why I adapted yoga as an integral part of my routine.
Originally published at kitchenspirit.com