Tuesday, 20 August 2013

how to enjoy the gym - yes really!

It's been almost three months since I decided to completely change my diet, in order to become healthier, and to join the gym. I've lost count of how many times I've told myself that I'd go to the gym and stuck to it for about 3 days - I even got a membership once and used it about twice in the 12 month period. However I absolutely love the gym now. I look forward to going, and was even stressed and upset that the hotel I stayed in for a few nights a few weeks ago didn't have a gym! A lot of people have commented on my dedication, and as many have said they'd love to go to the gym but don't enjoy it so I thought I'd share what helped change my mind and made me love it!

First things first, I felt like I had to enlist the help of someone since my main problem in the gym was that I felt lost, and didn't have a clue what I was doing. I felt like everyone was watching me figure out how to use things, and laughing at me when I got things wrong! I decided to sign up for a personal trainer, but as she was still on maternity leave for a while and not able to see me weekly, it was almost like having someone write me a gym programme - something that most gyms offer as an additional service - only knowing I had to report back to her and could text her at any time for help/advice which really helped!

A programme is your step by step guide to your workout, and it should be tailored to your own goals. Mine works my whole body, as my goal is to lose weight and tone up everywhere, and it also features a lot of performance based goals which I'll mention later. If there's anything you don't like, don't include it. My personal trainer didn't include anything I don't enjoy (no treadmill, yay!) - for obvious reasons!

I've had 3 programmes so far, each slightly different, and I feel completely at ease with a lot of the equipment in the gym now, and also which levels to aim for and how to switch things up when they get too easy whether it's higher intensity levels, doing internal training or using equipment in a different way.

Err, ok, maybe not a whole wardrobe (any excuse to go shopping!) but treating yourself to some new gym clothes might help you. Before I signed up for my membership I went out and bought some new sportswear (whilst we're on the subject - why is absolutely everything for women pink?! ugh) so that I felt good about myself at the gym.

It also meant that I had spent money, so I would force myself to make use of the clothes!

No excuses here - everyone has time for the gym. I saw an image on Pinterest that said that a 1hr workout is only 4% of your day, which is so true since it's hardly any time at all. I can spend an hour easily flicking through Twitter without realising!

Personally, I prefer going to the gym in the morning. The first thing I do is put my gym clothes on, eat breakfast, and then off I go. I've been doing this since mid-June and it's second nature now. I don't even think about it, and it doesn't seem like a chore - just part of my daily routine. And getting up early before work for the gym? It feels like hell at the time (believe me I know - getting up at 7am, going to the gym and then starting a 12hr shift from 10am until 10pm is a long day and there are days where I still can't manage it), but trust me you'll feel wide awake and feel good enough that you can skip the morning coffee afterwards!

Find what you like about the gym, and stick to it. For me, I realised that since I'm competitive and really push to hit targets (thank my job for that! Hitting targets means making money, so you bet I hit them!) it would be a good idea to use this a way to motivate myself at the gym.

Almost everything I do now is performance based, and I honestly believe it's what makes me go back day after day. My first challenge was to row 1000m as quick as I could, which was 5 min 19, and week by week I would try and improve my time - my personal best is now 4 min 40 using a higher resistance too! Other times I set a target in my mind before starting and really push myself to hit it!

Honestly, no one cares. I used to be really self conscious in the gym, and getting comfortable with the surroundings and equipment helped me get over it. Now that I know what I'm doing I don't care if I notice someone staring at me. Infact, more than once I've caught someone staring at me as I really pushed myself hard, only for them to smile and give me a "good work" nod which feels good!

Whenever I find myself watching someone at the gym it's because I'm impressed by what they're doing, not because they're sweaty or puffing and panting or look silly. I notice people staring at me sometimes, too, and try to use the same logic - why would they be looking at me for a negative reason? Everyone is at the gym for the same thing, everyone sweats, it's normal for your face to be the colour of a beetroot and you're not the first person to make an awkward grunting noise when you're really working hard!

Hopefully these tips have given you a little push in the direction of the gym. The first week or so may feel like a chore, but it gets better and that feeling when you lift a heavier weight than last time, or when you notice your jiggly arms becoming tighter, or the fact that you have more energy on a daily basis not only makes it 100% worth it, but makes you want to keep working hard!



  1. Gym and enjoy are not usually two words I'd put in the same sentence, but since my membership ended a week or so ago I've found myself really missing going but I'm moving soon so waiting until then to join a new gym, fingers crossed it'll be worth it!x

    Charlotte / coloursandcarousels

  2. Hi Charlene, thanks for the inspiration. I keep saying I'm going to take up running ... I might just do that tonight now! Xx

  3. I'm that kinda person who signs up for the gym, pays the fee and never goes. I think i used my membership about 4 times. Good advice and i'll use some of it for my final year at uni and final chance at a cheap gym!


  4. I absolutely love this post! A few weeks ago I signed up to the gym after my weight crept up and up and I love going now. I feel like I've actually done something towards my goal at the end of it and have already started noticing changes which is so so encouraging :)

  5. Fantastic useful blog article, Charlene! As I mentioned on Twitter, I've got my first gym session tomorrow since my induction - well timed! xo

  6. Great post! I've had about 6 weeks off from the gym because I've been moving house and I go back this week. This is the motivation I need! x

  7. I read this post when you wrote it, and just re-read it again after joining the gym and going for a month now. You're so right about the self conscious thing, I'm slowly beginning to feel more relaxed, but reading that other people feel like that too makes me feel much better about myself!
    And well done on the first stone, that's excellent! :)