Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Gym: A Real Person's Guide to Getting There

We are the masses of real people.  You will likely not find us teaching a Pilates class or bench pressing our own body weight.  But if we could find the time, and the motivation - we'd like to stay active and healthy, and be able to reap the benefits that come from being reasonably fit.

Photo courtesy of photostock

For myself, I know I feel lower levels of stress and fatigue when I'm able to include some exercise during my week.  And when I do get the opportunity to enjoy some fun outdoor sport or activity with my friends and family, such as biking or a good hike - I like to be in good enough shape to keep up and have fun, not just be frustrated with how tired and out of shape I am.

After a long hiatus, my husband and I have recently re-joined our gym and started going on a fairly regular basis.  I am so excited about this positive development, that I wanted to share a few tips that have helped me muster up some momentum to get myself to the gym ... in hopes that it may help motivate you, too!

Find the right gym.  I'm just not in the "Pick Up-Joint Rivaling a Bar, workout in full makeup, styled hair, and matching high-fashion workout gear" Zone in life.  (Even when I was single, I wasn't in that zone.)  If your town is of a large enough size to have multiple gyms to choose from, you likely know which of your gyms falls in this category.  I call it the "Young Singles" gym.

If you aren't comfortable there, you won't go. 

Might I suggest finding yourself a family gym with a membership consisting of all shapes, sizes, and ages of people.  Every gym I've ever  visited has offered a free trial period.  Make sure you do that before you join, and see how the scene feels to you.

I love the low pressure, all ages vibe at my gym.  There are people 20 years older than me kicking my butt on the cardio machine next to me, and young people in baggy sweats just trying to get started.  A little healthy competition is good - I love seeing fit women that I aspire to be more like someday.  But it's also nice to see a variety of people, at a variety of levels, and not feel intimidated. 

A good onsite daycare was also a deciding factor for us in choosing a gym we liked.  Give this a trial run, too, before making your final choice.  Is cost an issue?  Our gym's daycare offers the opportunity to volunteer and work at the daycare for 8 hours sometime during the month, in exchange for free daycare there for your own kids (while you work out).  Or 16 hours per month gets you a free gym membership AND daycare.  If they don't currently offer that arrangement, maybe discuss it with them?  It's a win win proposition, if it fits your circumstances.

Photo courtesy of Ambro
Carve out a time.  Even more than lack of a gym membership, this has been my show stopper for quite some time.  After work, my family needs me at home, and I am tired.  Weekends are a tough sell - plans vary, and I know for myself I am mentally programmed that they are designed for relaxing. 

Aahhh... so early morning before work, it is!  Yikes. I understand that you love sleep too much for this kindof craziness.  I do, too.  But you may be surprised at how much you enjoy hitting the gym at this early hour, and how your body adjusts to it after giving it an honest try for 2 or 3 weeks.

I thought I would crash and be tired mid-morning at the office ... but I didn't!  I was LESS tired than I usually am.  A great incentive.  Interestingly, there's a real sense of camaraderie amidst that early morning gym going crew.  There are typically a core group of regulars, and everyone seems to be in a happy, positive mood.   It's contagious!

And lastly, as my doctor commented when I told her about my new early morning gym festivities, "It's great to get it over with first thing, and then you can go about your day".

If you stay home with your kids, I know this means leaving them in childcare for a brief time (hopefully onsite at the gym).  When I stayed home with my daughter, it was very hard for me to leave her at a daycare, so I get that.  But please know that they will be perfectly ok!   And you will have lower stress and more energy - isn't that a gift to both yourself and your children?

Photo courtesy of Ambro
Pick a reward for yourself at the conclusion of each workout.  Whether it's the steam room or Starbucks - select something that feels indulgent to you and is that extra incentive to push you over the edge when you don't wanna go.  And treat yourself to that at the end of every workout.

I love, love, love sitting in a steam room.  I am someone who enjoys soaking up heat, and for some reason it's extremely relaxing to me.  It's almost as if I can feel all my stress melting, seeping out of my pores and floating away in the mist.  (For me, it also has a deja vu factor, some positive connotation with an earlier time in my life, where I regularly worked out and enjoyed the steam room afterwards ... "I'm doing it again!  I can still do this!"... but I realize that doesn't apply to everyone...)  Be sure to bring a big bottle of water with you when you head in.

Continued in Part II, where I complete this list of tips!   


  1. For carving out time - I even schedule it in my Outlook for the day. That way, I have a pop-up reminder of how important it is to go!

  2. Giant Sis ... I like that idea! May have to try that one out. Every little trick helps!

    Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing. :)



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