Successful Gym Memberships
This post is about getting the most out of your gym membership (if you have one or plan on getting one in the future). During my 2 1/2 year membership at Dynamic Health and Fitness (West Columbia & Lexington) I’ve consistently gone at least three days a week, and throughout my entire first pregnancy (and after). I feel confident in sharing these ways to stay motivated, as they have worked for me and others. Sticking to those pesky New Year's resolutions you made in January can be daunting. So get pumped to go to the gym with these helpful tips.
Make sure you eat and drink before your workout. I can always tell a difference when I've got “food” energy, and it helps to not be dying of thirst first thing on a run. I have more energy and feel hydrated when I eat and drink ahead of time; I can work out longer and harder. Hydration is so important for your body, especially during your workout, so do not skimp on the water!!
Some easy pre-workout meals:
Oatmeal with eggs and fruit
Rice cakes with nut butter and fruit
Protein bar with fruit (quick, on the go)
Always make sure you stretch before and after your workout. This is especially important if you're running, or have specific areas that have problems (knee/back/shoulder). Stretching is a way of warming up your body to perform the tasks you want. It also helps cool you down and release some of the tension inflicted on those muscles you worked so hard during your session. If you skip this step it could result in major injury.
Shoes: If you like to run to get yourself some really good running shoes. I know they can be expensive, but trust me, your legs and knees will thank you for buying quality workout shoes. Even if you’re not into running, make sure you have shoes appropriate for the type of workout you're doing. All shoes are not created equal. You can actually find some great deals online and at discount stores.
Pants: Get yourself some “active-wear’ bottoms. By that I mean, whatever is specific for that activity and is comfortable to you. Personally, I prefer the tight, high waisted, control top leggings the best. They naturally help keep my abs and core tight. And I'm not always pulling my pants up to try and cover my stomach. I know a lot of people who think they need to spend a fortune on workout clothes, but you really don't need to. I find mine on sale all the time from Old Navy, Target or TJ Maxx/Marshalls, usually for $8-$17. See, no need to spend over $20 for cute, functional, comfy workout pants.
Tops: The same concept applies for tops. I feel constricted by t-shirts now, and I like to see my muscles flexing while I work out. So, I feel most confident and comfortable in tank tops. If you're self-conscious about your arms, you're not going to want to show them off and you won't be comfortable while you're working out. So I would recommend wearing loose short sleeves. It's all about what makes you comfortable; if you're not confident, you're not going to want to go to the gym.
Hair: This is a big one for me. I have long layered hair and it never stays during a run/intense workout in a bun. Therefore, I do not wear a bun when I'm working out. I either wear my hair in a ponytail or braid. I prefer the braid because it's less damage to my hair and I think it's a pretty style. Another tip for keeping hair in its place is a headband or hat. Headbands do not stay on for me at all, but they work for some people. Instead I use hats. Hats are perfect for me because they keep the sweat out of my face, and when I run outside they provide shade for my eyes.
Water Bottle: Get a good water bottle that holds enough and isn't difficult to open. You don't want to be struggling mid workout to get a drink of water. You want it to be as easy as possible. I prefer Camelback's because you don't have to tilt them. I also like Polar because they're insulated and easy to open.
Mats: If you're into yoga or other exercises that require a mat, get your own. You can determine the thickness for your comfort level, and know you'll be the only one using it. Our gym recently did away with mats, because people weren't cleaning them properly and they were falling apart because they were so thin. They are really affordable at discount stores like TJ Maxx. I got mine there for a mere $8.
Tunes: If you are like me and HAVE to listen to music while you work out, get an armband so you don't have to worry about buying clothes with pockets. I got mine from Amazon, and I love it. You'll also need some good headphones. I prefer the ones that go around your ears so I'm not constantly rearranging them. Also, get Pandora because it's free and you can listen to that without Wi-Fi (but my gym offers free wifi). Or you can buy Spotify’s monthly subscription, for $11, and listen to that without Wi-Fi too.
Routine: Get on a routine that works for your schedule. For the past year I've been going to the gym every Monday night, Tuesday-Friday mornings, and races or off on the weekends. Now that I've gotten used to my schedule, if I skip even one day, I feel off. Don't feel like you have to commit as often as I do, I go because I can. I'm a stay at home mom, and I would just be sitting at home otherwise. It's just what's been working for me. Plus, I pay for my membership so I want to use it and get the most out of it.
Friends: Another way I stay motivated, is through the friends I've made there. Most of them are moms like me, so we attend a lot of the same classes, or are working out at the same time. I know if I miss a week, or even a day, people will say they missed me or will check in (on Facebook or later in person). I don't find this intrusive. I take it as, they're just making sure I'm okay. Also, if you see your friends reaching their goals, I think for most of us, it encourages us that we can see similar results if we push towards our own goals.
Staff/Instructors: I love going to gyms where the staff is friendly. No one wants an uncomfortable working environment, no matter where it is. Everyone at my facility is so kind and helpful. If I don't know everyone's name, I at least know their faces and are familiar with them. All the instructors are amazing and want to see you improve and reach your goals. They also listen to what you want out of their classes, and will implement that into their routine. One in particular is very community oriented, and treats everyone like a friend. She is always looking for ways to improve her classes and help us see the most results. She also likes hanging with us outside of the gym, for fitness and other fun events. I've already done one race with her, and I plan to do more. I really appreciate how much she cares and has invested in me.
I hope these tips have been helpful, and encouraged you to stay on track, or start going to the gym again. Everyone has plateaus or reasons they might need to pull away for a while. I have found it really helps when you are preparing yourself properly for workouts, have the right equipment and are being held accountable by people who truly care about your progess and sucess. Let me know if you have other tips for staying motivated to go to the gym in the comments below.
Also, if you're local to the Columbia area (in SC) and want to try out Dynamic Health and Fitness for yourself, tell them Amanda Rollison refered you. I love helping others find new and great things! <3 Amanda