For the longest time, I avoided the gym

Yes. For the longest time I avoided going to the gym. Come to think of it I avoided gym classes as much as possible back in school as well, even before getting a medical slip excusing me from the class for the last two years of high school.
By now, the medical issues sort of cleared up, or at least, I know how to handle stuff.

Image from Cheri Cope’s blog post, Run with Your Heart

Last Summer, I decided that I wanted to run, and maybe even exercise more. Okay, truth is, I started running to lose a little bit of weight and fit into the dress a friend let me borrow to wear to a wedding last Fall.
However, after I started running during the second half of the Summer, luckily I liked it so much that I wanted to keep going. (Here are some great tips for someone just starting out with running.)
I even signed up and ran two cross events so far, one last Fall and one this month. And, I am signed up for two other cross events this Spring, and am interested in a third in the Summer also if the admission fee won’t be too steep!

For those who choose to go, my firm offers the benefit of a gym membership to the gym close by the office. I wouldn’t want to go there though… I’d hate having to wake up early to go before work, or during my lunch break, or after work. Honestly, I don’t want to use the shower there, which I would definitely need to in either of these scenarios. So even though it’s free, I don’t go there.

I signed up for the gym close to our flat when the weather was too cold for me to run outside. I couldn’t risk getting a cold every time I wanted to run. I found a good deal at the gym – it’s 30% off if I go in between 7am-3pm!
So my very optimistic plan throughout the Winter was:
– going to the gym on Mondays and Fridays before 3pm since I work from home anyway,
– maybe a gym running-session on Saturday depending on my schedule,
– and ice skating on Wednesdays after work as soon as the ice rink opened. I am proud to say that I managed to stick to the schedule pretty well!

That said, please note that you don’t have to have a gym membership if you can’t afford it, don’t have time to find one near you, don’t want to go alone, etc. I honestly only signed up, because I wanted to continue running, and didn’t have a treadmill at home.
There are many YouTube channels out there with great workouts, which you can follow at home. Two of my favorites are FitnessBlender and XHIT Daily. I used these resources for home workouts when I couldn’t get to the gym.

Here are just a few pointers I can give someone who is starting out with regular exercising:

  • Check with your doctor in case you have any sort of physical restrictions so they can advise if it is safe to work out.
  • Eat well (and healthy), at least one meal, before heading to the gym.
  • Based on the previous point, do give the meal some time before actually walking out the door.
  • Keep hydrated. Take a water bottle with you and sip sip sip while you work out.
  • Talk with the trainers there. Tell them about any physical restrictions you might have. Ask which machine does what and how/in what order to use them. Ask for suggestions as they can provide you with a lot of helpful advice depending on what your goal is.
  • If a certain workout or machine doesn’t work for you, do something else. (For example, I get dizzy/motion sick if I try doing abs workouts on a balance ball.)
  • Do what feels good. If you have the elliptical set for 20 minutes for example, but you’re feeling too tired after 10 minutes, adjust the time or hit the “cool down” button and move onto the following exercise.
  • Take your time. No need to rush through the exercise routines. Allow at least a minute or two between sets, to rest.
  • If you feel faint or dizzy, stop immediately what ever exercise you are doing.
  • Don’t over do it with cardio, as cardio alone will not help much. Do some cardio to get warmed up, but then some kind of strength training, and finish with some more cardio if you want.
  • You don’t need to go to the gym every single day. It is a good idea to let your muscles rest between gym sessions.
  • Try to walk more (to/from work, when you go shopping, walk up the stairs instead of using the elevator, take on walking the dog three times a day or more, etc.) and take regular breaks to stretch and move around a minute or two during your everyday life, especially if you work at a desk all day.
  • If you like such things, go cycling, hiking, ice skating, dancing or include other forms of exercise into your free time.

Workout clothes and shoes can be colorful, and fun to shop for. Apparently the people who invented exercise clothes actually knew what they were doing. After buying a pair of warm tights to ice skate in (which are basically running tights, so I used them for that, too), I am never looking back!
However, I simply had spare comfy clothes I used before now.
I didn’t want to be that person who said she’s going to exercise, buys a ton of specific clothes for it, uses them three times total, then never looks at them again because she didn’t stick with exercising!

I’d suggest buying what you need as you go – more budget-friendly, and kind of like a reward system for sticking with it. Sneaky, right?

Hope you found my post helpful if you’re just starting to exercise more, or if you’ve been doing it for a longer period, please leave me a few tips you can think of, in the comment section below :) I’m always open to suggestions!

2 Comments to “For the longest time, I avoided the gym”

  1. My tips have to do with helping with the boredom of exercising on a treadmill or an elliptical–have an uplifting/funky playlist because it’s been shown that people who listen to music while exercising will exercise for longer and harder.

    The other tip is for the walkers. I walk my dog about 4 miles every other day. Because of where I live and the fact that I don’t want to walk Pearl on busy streets, I take nearly the same path every other day. Talk about boring! Yes, the same path for nearly 8 years. What I have discovered is that’s a great time to listen to podcasts, TED talks, or books. There have been times when I’ve been so interested in the book or podcast that I walk around the block a time or two more just to find out what happens next!

    Some of my favorite podcasts usually relate to health but I’ve also listened to humor and walked all 4 miles laughing and looking like a lunatic.

    I don’t enjoy exercising but I may be one of those people who needs to make exercise sneaky like your suggestion of ice skating. We also have beautiful places to hike here in San Diego, and I never take advantage of walking on the beach which is amazing to me–I just don’t think about it!

    I love your idea of buying cheaper workout clothes. I’ve bought the majority of my workout gear at TJ Maxx where the average workout outfit costs about $25 for a top and bottom. Meanwhile, I see so many people at my gym in activewear that I know costs $120 US just for the pants! I don’t need to spend that much to sweat!

    Great suggestions, and I hope to get to my gym some day soon. I keep hurting myself, have to heal, and then more time passes. I think my next class is gentle yoga.

    • Ah yes, music (or podcasts, audio books, etc.)! Haven’t even thought to mention it, since I don’t listen to music while working out/running/walking. I have this annoying habit of wanting to hear what is going on around me, which does come in handy when I run on the streets around my flat and there’s traffic, but true, it does make running a little bit boring. I wish I had some parks around me, I would listen to music if running through them.

      Would your girls be interested in hiking maybe? Take your cameras, maybe the dogs, and you could turn it into a fun outing with them on weekends or something, and you can take full advantage of those beautiful places near San Diego.

      The firm the BF works for offers either gym memberships every month, or a voucher to buy sports items (I’d LOVE it if mine did, too, since I will never benefit from that gym membership mine offers.) That is how the BF buys soccer clothes and other equipment for himself, and I bought my workout clothes.
      So, I could’ve bought almost anything I would’ve liked a long time ago – but I wanted it to be more of a reward for sticking with it.
      But yes, one doesn’t have to buy the most expensive thing out there. From using not workout clothes vs actual workout clothes, there is a difference and you are able to move more freely, etc. in the especially created clothes, but $25 vs $120 will also always win in my books! I think my workout clothes cost about $80 in total, though I really don’t have that many and my t-shirts are from cross races I ran (I’m not even thinking about buying t-shirts before these start to wear out).

      Good idea to try gentle yoga. I’ve been doing yoga at home at least one evening a week after a 30-day challenge last January got me to like it, and it’s really good. Here’s the link to the Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel I like, maybe you feel like giving it a go at home also. The bedtime yoga is my favorite!

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