• Wed, Mar 13 2013

Gym Classy Lady: Finding Motivation To Go To The Gym When The Sun Starts Shining

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Like most people, my gym-going habits wax and wane a bit with the seasons. As it gets nice outside, it’s harder to motivate myself to spend time indoors at the gym. After-work rituals go from Pilates mats and kettlebells—more on the latter next week; I’m still too sore to reminisce—to happy hours and dining al fresco. Why go to the gym when you can get your exercise in walking home through the Upper West Side?

They say it takes 28 days to form a habit, which means it also takes 28 days to undo said habit. If you’re on my schedule, you became a workout fiend in January, kept it up at the gym in February, and are just now beginning to unravel the habit. It was almost 60 degrees in New York this week!

Personally (because this is my column and therefore all about me), I find myself playing endless mind games to trick my body into exercising. And here I thought mind games were over once I left the dating scene! I tell myself I only have to run for 20 minutes if I just get. on. the treadmill. And once I’m on the treadmill, I hope I’ll end up running a little farther. I mean, I wrestled my way into a sports bra for more than 20 minutes of cardio, right?

It helps that my building has a gym and exercise is a mere elevator ride away (or stairs, if I’m feeling bold). But I wish I could say that worked every time. Or even most of the time.

That said, in the past two years I have gone from someone who rarely lifted anything heavier than a drink to someone who regularly works out, even on the weekends. [True story: One time I went to two workout classes in one weekend and I was so proud of myself I stopped at the Belgian waffle food truck on the way home. And again the next weekend.] I’m by no means hardcore (except about Belgian waffles), but my transition is something to hang my hat (sweaty headband?) on and along the way, I have found some motivation tricks that work.

And so—since you all should model your lives after me anyway—I give you: The (Patented) Gym Classy Lady Motivation Tricks<

Switch it up - Prior attempts to become a gym rat failed in part because I wasn’t actually doing anything I thought was fun. Which is weird, when I think about it now. Why would I be inclined to do something in my free time that I thought was so terrible? I largely credit what success I’ve had to all of the different classes I’ve tried. By trying everything, I found things I liked (and many things I didn’t!) and suddenly found myself actually looking forward to going to the gym.

Get high - When I was simply jogging on the elliptical for an hour, I wasn’t all that sweaty. Not surprisingly, I never found the ever-elusive endorphin high. Now that I go to classes and quite literally have my ass kicked, I leave the gym absolutely elated. Never do I want to exercise more than when I’m high on endorphins. I pretty much sign up for my next class while still sweaty from the last one.

Invest a little - If you have the means, exercise is a great place to invest some of your disposable income. Start with (and this is admittedly very girly) clothes. If you look good, you feel good, and you’re much more likely to actually want to get to the gym. Also, personally I’ve noticed I’m a lot less likely to bail on a class if I’m paid for it individually. When I miss a class that’s included in a gym membership, it’s no skin off my back. But when I pay by the class, you better believe I’m making it a priority.

Find the time - Obviously, all of the above is about finding what works for you, but this is something that took a while for me to learn. If you’ve realized you’re not making time for working out after work, try a different time. For years, I thought the only time to workout was in the evening. Then I tried lunch. And mornings! And I am REALLY not a morning person. Even if you think it’s not for you, or you’re not wild about the idea of showering at the gym in the middle of the day (as I wasn’t), you really don’t know unless you try.

So how do you keep yourself motivated, amidst the sea of distractions out there? No really- tell me. I need some new ideas! Leave a comment or tweet me @lizlemonyall.

About “Gym Class Lady”: Inspired by my love of trying all things fitness, every other week I’ll be reviewing a workout class, fad or video. I try all these classes so you don’t have to! Have a class to recommend or a review you’d love to read? Leave me a comment or tweet me @lizlemonyall

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  • anon

    Why force yourself to go to the gym if the weather’s nice? You can exercise outside, and it’s free. I like to run outside, and I’m also luck enough to live near a park where I can do push-ups, crunches, bench-dips, etc. There are lots of exercises you can do outside with little or no equipment!

    • Gym Classy Lady

      I was more talking about motivation to work out than going to a gym specifically… I personally am not a big runner, which limits the potential for outdoors working out, but more power to you… any sweat is good!