You know how to spot them, right? Shiny-new, Bluetooth headphones, a cute tank top with an ironic phrase, or maybe it’s a pair of stretchy too-new yoga pants without any signs of pilling. Yeah, these people are the summer’s-almost-here heroes who have checked back into the gym for the sole purpose of showing off some summer swagger.
Most have removed the tags from their new purchases, but they crowd the workout floor and monopolize the cardio machines. Now, we don’t begrudge anybody for committing themselves to a healthier lifestyle, but they should be onboard the full-time fitness train, not just the Express to summer fierceness. It’s this flash-in-the-pan, gimme-insta-results-mindset that sets them up failure time and time again.
They are the same folks who hit the gym so hard on January 2 each year, but then by mid-month the winter blues have kicked in and they throw in the towel. Literally.
Are you guilty?
Everybody wants to be beach ready, but how do you avoid the common pitfalls that befall the seasonal gym goer?
Manage Your Expectations
Don’t try to move mountains on day one. And don’t try to “kill it” every day of the week either. You will burn yourself out. Commit to something reasonable, and make it a part of your routine—something you always do, so it becomes a part of your day, your week, your month, your life. If you make it too all-consuming or difficult, you won’t stick to it, and you’ll be back to where you started.
Moderation is key. You can’t lose 10 pounds overnight, and you can’t run a marathon without training for it beforehand. You also know your body best, so listen to it when it tells you to slow down—or to kick it up a notch!
Mix it Up
Nothing staves off boredom like variety. And while the same could be said for taste testing all 31 of Baskin Robbins’ ice cream flavors, we’re talking about exercise here.
We’re not suggesting you reinvent the wheel each time you visit the gym, but if the stationary bike is usually your jam, why not give the elliptical machine a whirl or try a row machine?
Mixing it up will keep you motivated and interested in what you’re doing. You’ll also exercise different muscle groups with variety. You’ll want to switch between free weights and cable machines when strength training, too—because these slight variations in movement will make your muscles work harder.
Grab a Gym Buddy
You wouldn’t want to blow off your friend, now would you? (We advise choosing a good friend so the tendency to flake is low). You can hold each other accountable. Some people find that keeping a fitness journal works for them, but if you’re not staying on top of it you might feel defeated because you forgot to log a workout. Then two missed logs becomes a week’s worth of missed entries and you may never go back to the gym because you feel as if you failed. You didn’t. You are just giving yourself an excuse to give up.
Your gym buddy will keep you accountable, and keep you honest. You must be sure you are committing to fitness for yourself first, of course, but you can rely on your buddy to keep your head in the game.
Keep it Real (and Cut Yourself Some Slack)
You got very busy at work last week and you didn’t make it to the gym. Not even once. A novice might be thrown off by this, but you know that this setback doesn’t mean you should give up entirely. In fact, it needn’t be viewed as a setback at all. Our bodies need intervals of rest anyway. Just get back to the routine next week.
Couldn’t stay away from the tacos on Tuesday or that pint of Chunky Monkey last weekend? Don’t beat yourself up over it. We all need to indulge sometimes. Just make sure it’s only sometimes, and that you enjoy these things in moderation.
Don’t be the seasonal gym go-getter. Maintain that master-of-my-universe mojo all year round, by committing to fitness as a lifestyle—not an afterthought. Then you can bask confidently (and safely—sunscreen, people) in the sun this summer—and bask in your gym-regimen results all year round.