Your workout at the gym doesn't have to be so grim
You made the decision to get back into shape. You signed up at the local gym and are psyched to hit the new equipment to lose those unwanted pounds. But after a month or two, the new equipment seems old and boring. The fancy treadmill with the bells and whistles is now a foe you have to combat each workout. Even driving to the gym seems like a chore. You'd rather do the windows or clean the garage then do another sit-up or pull-up.
You're not alone.
"A lot of people choose the beginning of the year to go to the gym because it feels like a fresh start," says Jamie Wood, fitness manager at Virtua's William G. Rohrer Center in Voorhees, N.J. "Those who are working out for the first time tend to get discouraged and lose interest when they don't see results as quickly as they hoped. They want instant satisfaction."
Wood blames the "M" word - monotony - as the primary reason why first-time gym enthusiasts lose their enthusiasm.
Doing the same exercises on the same equipment will break anyone's healthy New Year's resolution. The key to inserting interest in your gym workouts is to switch things up.
"Break out of the same old routine," says Wood. "If you stick to one machine, such as the treadmill, for the majority of your visits to the gym, you're going to dislike the machine and may decide to give up. There are alternatives."
Wood offers the following tips/suggestions to help you ward off the boredom during your gym workouts:
- Try new equipment. Develop a workout routine that varies so you don't become bored. Instead of your usual jog on the treadmill, try an elliptical, stationary bike or rowing machine.
- Keep your time on each cardiovascular machine from 5 to 20 minutes each. This is called cross training. Moving from machine to machine will keep your workout fresh and entertaining and not mundane. Some machines will target different areas of the body as well. So you'll receive a complete workout.
- Alternate your workouts between cardio and weights. Decide which days you'll concentrate on cardio and which days you'll focus on strengthening your muscles.
- Exercise with a friend. You can motivate each other or help the time go by faster by talking and sweating together during your workout.
- Join a group exercise class. Try a spinning class, yoga, tai-chi or even a zumba class to add a bit of spice to your workout. Chances are you may like it and look forward to it.
- Work out while watching TV or listening to your iPod or mp3 player. Some gyms, such as the William G. Rohrer Center, enable you to plug in your headphones to certain equipment to listen to music or TV. This will help entertain you while you're trying to shed those pounds. Just make sure not to pump up the volume (see related article on hearing loss and iPods and mp3 players.)
- Sign up for personal training. A fitness expert will guide you and motivate you to achieve your goals. He or she will develop a program that is right for you and will incorporate cardio, weights, flexibility and functional training. A fitness expert will keep you inspired by providing activities that will not bore you.
Wood says beginners should try to visit the gym at least 2 or 3 times per week for 30 minutes or more. As you feel more comfortable and increase your stamina, increase the number of days and duration.
But most, importantly, keep it fun.