People will be all over the gym the first week of January - spinning, climbing stairs, lifting weights, checking their body fat percentage. Those new year's resolutions are freshly polished, dusted off from last January - promises to eat better, exercise more, drink more water, eat less sugar, and lose that muffin top before swimsuit season. But come the end of the month, there will be a few more parking spaces and treadmills will be standing empty again.
If I ran the gym, I'd post some notes to help the "new you" fend off the "hungry and comfortable you" and stick with those resolutions until December.
- Don't feel intimidated. When I first started swimming laps, I was swimming one length in about 2 minutes, flailing across the pool, ready to drown, and taking a 5 minute break at the end. I watched the other people swimming about 5 laps in the same time and felt like maybe I was getting in their way. It took some time and work, but now I have a good lap swim workout (and there are still people faster and doing more laps than me) and I love it. Don't worry that you aren't fast enough, strong enough, or have the right clothes. Keep trying the things you really want to do.
- But at the same time - Know your limitations. Know when to quit, go slower or lighter, or not even attempt something. No matter what my Latin-blooded friend says, she's not getting me into zumba, despite her promise that I won't be the only rhythmically-challenged, uncoordinated person in the room (that's her sales pitch). The first time I went to my now almost-regular strength-training class, the instructor told me to put 10 lbs. on my barbell. I was almost offended - what, I can lift more than 10 lbs! I thought. But, could I do it 50 times in a row, I realized was the test. Whew! I should have dropped it down to 5 lbs.
- And don't get in the way. In any type of group exercise or when there's multiple people (like on a running track), figure out where the people at your pace or level are - running the same speed, going to pass out from strength-training at the same time, whatever. Its safer, you'll be more comfortable, and it helps with the "don't be intimidated" thing.
- Give yourself 30 days. The experts on developing habits and such things like that say that it takes 21 to 30 days for your new habit to stick. Seeing as you probably won't be going to the gym every day, allow 30 for this one. Make your plan for January, and no matter what else comes along, stick with it. Go to the gym, meet with a personal trainer, go to zumba, walk to the Metro station - do it without fail.
- Plan and prepare for your exercise to reduce your excuses and possible distractions. Exercise rarely just happens, especially with the busy lives we lead these days. Figure out how exercise will work into your day - early in the morning, lunch-time, at the end of the day, whatever works for you - and write it into your schedule. Yes, that means you may have to skip happy hour this week. Sure, coordinate your workout schedule with your hair appointments and your pedicures. Nope, you can't pass out cupcakes at school this morning. Put yourself first.
- Pack your bags. Whether you will be heading to work or volunteer at your kids' school or get drinks with friends after your workout, make sure you have everything you need to shower and change clothes. Shower gel/soap, shampoo, hair styling stuff, deodorant, lotion - keep a set in your gym bag so you don't have to remember to grab it off the bathroom counter every time. And undergarments! Raise your hand if you've ever been standing in the locker room and realized you forgot to pack your bra. Keep a spare set of undergarments in your bag.
- Set a goal and commit to it. Register for a race or competition or game or league or whatever - something that requires a commitment at a specific point in time. I registered for a triathlon before I was ready because it forced me to stick to a workout plan, because I knew I had exactly so many months, weeks, days before I would have to be ready. If I didn't stick with my plan, I could drown and die. (Okay, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but that's what it takes to keep me on task).
Lastly, something that has nothing to do with fitness, just my own preference for modesty
- Don't talk to me naked, don't talk on the phone, lotion, put on your make-up or brush your hair while butt-naked. Doesn't matter if you are a size 2 or 22, don't care to have a conversation with you in your birthday suit. But if that's your thing and you just have to stay naked, at least, while you are moisturizing or whatever else, keep both feet on the ground.
See you at the gym!