It's that time of year again: the time where we all decide that we're going to be healthier in the next 365 days than we were during the last 365. And you know what? There's nothing wrong with that. I think resolving to live a healthier life in the near future is always a noble goal. While my fitness and wellness routines could certainly use some improvement, during 2012 I quasi-mastered one important fitness skill: getting myself to go to the gym regularly. Since making it through the front door of your gym on a regular basis is the area most people struggle with, here are my three steps for making sure that you get there.
Every Sunday night I sit down and plan out my workout schedule for the next week. Life permitting, I plan for four workouts a week - either going to the gym or going on a run - and one yoga class per week. I've found that I almost never hit that goal if I approach my week with an "I'll go on whichever days I have time" kind of attitude. I always end up convincing myself that I'll go tomorrow, and then when I run out of days, I say I'll go the next week. Spoiler alert: it never happens. So, I've discovered that planning which days I'm going to work out in the upcoming week and which workouts I'm going to do on each of those days dramatically increases the chances that I will meet my workout goals. It gives me a sense of purpose when I wake up on a workout day - I've already planned what my future holds, so I can't say that I'll go the next day. This technique has the added bonus of letting me enjoy my days off so much more - rather than feeling like I should be at the gym every day, I can relax and know that my body deserves the rest.
There's something about knowing that someone expects to see you at the gym that can be a powerful motivator in actually getting yourself to the gym. I discovered how effective this strategy is one summer when I lived at home and worked out at the same gym as my dad. Even on mornings when I was tired and all I wanted to do was sleep a bit more, I would drag myself out of bed and go to the gym because I knew he would be disappointed if he didn't see me that morning. Here in San Francisco I belong to the same gym as a few of my coworkers. We coordinate workout days every week so that each of us can be motivated by the others to show up each morning. You don't even have to plan to exercise together - just knowing that someone else is expecting to see you there can be enough.
Step Three: ...Then Leave Your Phone at Home
This tip is a bit more about being present in your workout once you've already gotten to the gym. In observing my fellow gym-goers over the past year, I have been astounded at how much time people inadvertently waste while they're at the gym because they spend so much time looking at their phones. Smartphones are extremely distracting, and it's easy when you have your phone with you at the gym to take breaks during your workout to read emails, respond to text messages, or change songs on your playlist. While each of those activities doesn't take that much time, I think most people would be very surprised at how much of their gym time was spent doing non-exercise activities once they added up all the phone-focused minutes here and there. So, if you can, leave your phone in your locker. If you need it for music, make a playlist that you never need to mess with and force yourself to ignore texts and emails. And if you need a distraction during rests between workouts, watch the clock - you'll be amazed by how quickly 30 seconds goes by.
I hope all of these tips are helpful - I'm certainly resolving to stick to them more closely in the new year! And if you'd like more workout tips to help with any fitness resolutions, check out my workouts tab here.