3 Tips for January Gym-Goers on How to Stick With It

by Abby on January 10, 2014

Running on a TreadmillInches away from the women on either side of me, trying to avoid a foot to the face as I finished my crunches, I wondered, “Why are there so many people at the gym today?!” And then I remembered: oh, yeah. It’s January.

January at the gym is like Christmas Eve at the mall: a hot, crowded circle of hell, only worse-smelling. I try hard not to get all huffy at the New Year’s Resolutioners who clog the parking lot and treadmills every year like clockwork. But do they have to take up ALL the showers when I’m rushing to get to preschool pickup?!

Look, I know it can be obnoxious when some random person tries to give you advice about something that comes easily to them. (Ahem, Gisele. Breastfeeding. Moving on…) But as someone who has been physically fit most of my life except for that one semester in college when I discovered the cafeteria’s delectable baked goods, I really do have some tips that might be useful. Read on or click away in a huff, I’ll never know!

1. Choose your workout schedule wisely. When I was single, working full time and in grad school, I worked out at 6am, though that seems really hard to believe now. Then again, I wasn’t getting woken up multiple times a night by small people. Later on, I became a lunchtime gym-goer, mostly to break up a long, miserable workday at a job I hated. Other times, I’d exercise after work but usually I was so hungry and tired I blew through the workout just to get home.

Now, I have a more flexible schedule. Sometimes I head to the gym right after school drop-off. Other times I do some writing first, then squeeze in a quick run before pickup. Sometimes, I drag the kids with me to the gym, and sometimes a long walk with the dog is my only exercise. Some days I don’t work out at all.

My point is, you have to find a workout schedule that works for you, even if that means no gym or no set schedule at all. If you decide you can only exercise when you have 2 full hours to do cardio and weights, take a shower, and hit the steam room (ahem, Dad) then you may never work out at all, if your life is anything like mine.

2. Pick a gym or a class you like. I’ve been going to the same gym for over 10 years now. It’s barely a mile from my house, and it’s close to a grocery store, a gas station, and my kids’ schools – my 5-mile circuit. It’s not the fanciest, most fabulous gym ever. I wish they had a smoothie bar and a place to sit with my laptop. But it’s nearby, and I like the people, and they have some good classes, and that’s enough to make me actually GO, which is the main thing.

3. Sleep in your workout clothes. Seriously! I read somewhere that January is the absolute worst time to start a new exercise routine because it’s cold and dark and everyone’s swathed in layers of bulky clothes anyway, so who cares what you look like underneath? And who the heck feels like peeling off their cozy sweaters and Uggs to squeeze themselves into Lycra?! Not me, which is why I often sleep in my yoga pants and a T-shirt, then roll out of bed and head straight to the gym. Don’t judge. It works.

My other tips would be: don’t exercise when you’re hungry, skip a day or two when you feel like it, get yourself a FitBit, and make a gym date with a friend, preferably one with kids so your kiddos can have a playdate in the childcare room while you’re working out.

Regular exercisers: got any tips to add?

LINK O’ THE DAY: I’m a big fan of author/speaker/spiritual guru with great hair Gabrielle Bernstein. She gives some great fitness tips in this post. Be sure to check out the video.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Lou Mello January 10, 2014 at 7:29 am

Excellent tips, I have stayed fit since forever and work out 5 times a week. I have tried different times, but, always go back to the wee hours of the morn. Up at 3:45 am and on the weight machines by 4 am. Some advantages to this time of day is you can change the music in the gym and ther are FAR FEWER January newbies who come that early. I have thought about a fitbit as many if my friend have them, I just don’t want to get bogged down in measurements and stats, I know when I feel good and when I need to back off a bit on the Halloween candy. Yes, still have a full Costco sized bag of candy bars in the pantry, haven’t touched them since mid November knowing that the Holiday eating season would be enough to handle.

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Abby January 10, 2014 at 7:52 am

4am, Lou?! Good god, you’re hardcore! I might start publishing my posts earlier just for you. 🙂 And I’m not gonna lie: I’ve been hitting the leftover Xmas candy hard. Back to the gym I go!

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Lou Mello January 10, 2014 at 8:28 am

I used to be hardcore, I ran on pavement every morning, seven days a week for nearly 20 years; then the feet and knees started advising the rest of the body that they were not longer along for the ride. So, scaled back to five days with 15 minutes on the weights and 45 on the cardio…..easy rider. 🙂

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Lisa Lord January 12, 2014 at 6:08 am

I’m a fellow fan of Gretchen Rubin, and it was she who inspired me to make a monthly exercise resolution: exercise of some kind every other day or 15 days a month. I give myself a big “E” on the kitchen calendar and a pat on the back every time I do it. Like you, I’ve been working out fairly regularly forever, and I consider it absolutely essential for my sanity these days. And yet, before I made the resolution, I could go a few weeks here and there without doing anything. Setting the official intention and a measurable goal – and giving myself some credit for achieving the goal – really works.

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Abby January 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm

That sounds like a sensible, sane plan, Lisa. Good for you! And you’re exactly right about the “essential to my sanity” part. I feel like sometimes that gets overlooked in everyone’s enthusiasm to fit into their skinny jeans.

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