The parking lot’s packed around the clock? Gridlock in the locker room? Nary an open treadmill in sight? It seemed like a good time to run this post from my archives. You know what my motivation was to go to the gym 3 times this week? COLD. It was the only way I could get warm, and if I’m going to take an extra-long, steaming-hot shower, it might as well be someplace where small children can’t barge in on me at any moment.
3 Tips for January Gym-Goers on How to Stick With It
Inches 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. Happy exercising! But save me a Stairmaster, will ya?