As someone who has tried — multiple times — to make working out a routine part of my life, I can tell you straight up that it’s hard. I’ve never been the most physically fit or unfit person, but I haven’t been truly happy with my body… if I’m being completely honest, I think ever.
Part of the problem is that I’ve never been able to find and commit to a workout routine that has survived the many transitions I’ve had in my life. I’ll stick to a workout routine for a few weeks and make great progress and then I’ll miss a week, or my schedule will become crowded with “more important” things, and I end up not going back to the gym for weeks. For instance: changes in my schedule from semester to semester would ruin the workout routine I had established for myself and I’d have to start over, and moving to Jacksonville threw me off because I could no longer go to the bootcamp I had been attending at home. The result? I simply fell off the wagon until I somehow mustered up the motivation to get back on it.
I’ve never truly been able to make working out work for me, and even now that my life has a more rigid routine I still struggle. But I have discovered a few helpful tips and tricks to get me to the gym more often!
1. Know what motivates you.
Are you really good at motivating yourself and going to the gym on a regular basis, regardless of what’s going on in your life? Great! Chances are, this post will be nothing new to you, but you should still keep reading.
Now, if you aren’t good at motivating yourself, then it’s time to figure out what will motivate you. This could be a reward that you give yourself when you hit milestones you set, or sharing your experiences online in a blog, or getting an accountability buddy to make sure you go to the gym, or hiring a personal trainer to work on a workout regimen that will ensure you reach your goals! The possibilities for motivating yourself are endless, but what matters is that they work for you. It’s great if your best friend meets her goals by rewarding herself and being spontaneous at the gym, but if that doesn’t necessarily work for you, that’s okay! Experiment around and figure out what get’s you going and ready to work out, and then stick with it!
2. Don’t go home before you work out.
This is the absolute biggest and most important tip that I could possibly give you: no matter how tired you are once you’re done with work or classes, no matter how hungry you are, no matter how much you just want to sit down on your couch, don’t do it. If you go home after you’re done with your 9-5 and tell yourself you’ll go to the gym later, nine times out of ten you won’t.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone home after work and told myself I’d change right away and then go to the gym. That tactic has maybe worked 3 or 4 times in the four months I’ve lived in Jacksonville and it certainly doesn’t have a good track record! I have so much more success getting myself to actually work out when I pack my gym bag the night before and go straight to the gym after work with no down time in between for me to talk myself out of it. So pack yourself a protein bar, drink your water, and head straight to exercise as soon as your 8 hours are up. Your body will thank you later.
3. Get a workout buddy.
I’ve never been more fit or had as much fun at the gym as I did when I went to the gym with a friend. We pushed each other to do better every day and we were each other’s accountability partners to make sure that we actually got out butts to the gym to exercise. Seriously, I was in the best shape I had been in in years when I went with a friend! The problem, of course, was that I stopped going.
I’ve gone to the gym a few times with friends since I’ve moved to Jacksonville and honestly, it’s been super fun! Especially if we’re working with weights and machines because we can take turns and motivate each other. And if you work out with someone who knows what they’re doing, it’s basically like having your own personal trainer, which is pretty great, too.
If you don’t have anyone to go to the gym with, then I definitely recommend checking out the App Activvely on the App store, for both Android and iPhone! It’s basically like Tinder but for a workout buddy and a lot less creepy. You can put in the requirements for your ideal workout partner (including age, gender, and what you’re interested in doing together) and get matched with people in your area!
4. Take scheduled work out classes.
For me, this is a big one. I don’t currently have a workout buddy so getting to the gym on my own is basically a mental fight every day, especially since I’m essentially mindlessly doing cardio for an hour when I do go. I can’t exactly say it’s the most riveting or enjoyable experience, but it’s what I have time for and it’s helping me work towards my fitness goals, so what I say?
Anyways, I’ve noticed lately that without the accountability of a workout buddy or a scheduled class, it’s damn near impossible to get me to the gym. But I know if I’ve signed up for a class that I’ve paid for and that is going to give me all the direction I need to work out for an hour, I’m much more likely to get my butt to the gym or the studio so I can exercise. Ever since I signed up for a membership at a local yoga studio in Jacksonville, which conveniently has classes I can make it to right after work, I’ve been going twice a week for the past few weeks! It’s the longest workout streak I’ve managed to keep in over a year and it’s all because of how convenient I’ve made my schedule for myself.
So if you don’t have much mental willpower to get yourself to the gym and exercising for an hour, going to classes might be the best fit for you!
5. Find ways to make working out more enjoyable.
For some people, exercising is a joy in and of itself and needs no addition to make it fun. For the rest of us? We need a little extra motivation.
When I jog on the treadmill or the elliptical I’ll generally bring my iPad with a pre-downloaded episode of my current-favorite Netflix show ready to go, and I won’t get off the machine until I’m done watching it. So instead of spending an hour sitting on my couch I’m burning some calories in the gym! The result is a killer cardio workout where I’m constantly burning calories without really realizing it because of how distracted I am by what I’m watching, and it makes the time fly by faster. After all, if I get off the treadmill, I can’t really continue watching the show for another 30 minutes when I get home and finishing showering, so where’s the reward in that?
When I’m lifting weights I tend to lean more towards a killer workout playlist that gets me hyped and makes me feel like a total BAMF, but I know plenty of people who also enjoy listening to podcasts as a way to distract their mind and learn some new information! The most important thing is that you do what’s best for you and what’s going to make working out more enjoyable.
Here’s the fact of the matter: scheduling time to exercise doesn’t necessarily get easier when you graduate and get out into the real world. If anything, it gets more difficult when all you want to do after a long day at work is veg out on the couch and watch Law and Order, especially since there’s no one around to tell you that you shouldn’t!
How do you make working out work for you? Let me know in the comments below!