I hate the gym. I really hate the gym. I f***ing hate the gym. At the same time, I have been going to the gym 3-4 times a week for the last 5 years (yes, it was my 2007 new year resolution…) despite my hectic (at most times) work and personal life. I developed few little rules that helps me persist that I wanted to share with other people that try to stay healthy… I’ve written it from my perspective (ever changing work schedule with some flexibility) and I am pretty sure it will not work for everyone , but worth trying if other methods failed you before…
- Plan to go every day: No, I don’t really go every day. I just pack my gym bag, get everything in place and plan a convenient time based on my next day schedule. Sometimes the day goes as planned and I end up going and sometimes something changes and I don’t but since I plan to go every day, I still get to go 3-4 times every week in average.
- Treadmills are evil: but at the same time, they are the fastest way to get a good 30 min of cardio. At first, I tried the classic “30 min workout” music on my iPod to stay engaged but I couldn’t get myself to persist. Than I tried TV but there is never something good and the commercial breaks are huge downer when you run. Than I tried to listen to audio books: it was an improvement, but still, the 30 minutes felt like 30 days. Just when I felt I could not listen to one more book, I bought an iPad. Since I rarely watch TV at home, there are million TV dramas that everyone talks about and I never got to see. I started downloading seasons and watch one episode every visit to the gym (right now I am watching Breaking Bad, gym TV at its best). Now since my rule is that I can’t watch it at home, I kind of looking forward to get to the gym and enjoy 30-40 minutes of good, commercial free TV.
- I go mindless on the weight machines: You need to do weights. It helps burn more calories and keep your bones strong. Every trainer I ever went to built a free weight routine for me that required a notebook with sketches and instructions and my full attention. Once you get to heavy enough weights you even need a partner to make sure you don’t drop the weights on your head. I know it is more effective but I ended up not doing it at all. Finally, I decided to focus only on the weight machines, so after few times of getting used to them, I can perform it mindlessly while listening to an audio book or a podcast. Now I can finish my weight routine in under 30 minutes, while I listen to Marketplace.
- Your gym must have a towel service: being able to goto the gym in the middle of the day or in the morning is critical to keeping my gym commitment. If the gym doesn’t have a towel service, you are much less likely to go in times where you need to shower after (first you need to remember to bring one, than figure out how to get it to dry. Too complicated…)
- Pick a gym near work: this way you can go before work, after work or even during lunch. Since you are at work 5 days a week, a gym near work is much more valuable than a gym near home or half way.
- Do something when traveling: make time to go to the hotel gym even if it is tiny and doesn’t have the equipment you are used to. Even if you do 50% of what you usually do at home, it worth it to keep the routine going.
- Don’t be social: I know that going with friends is a great motivator but at the same time it adds complexity and coordination and creates one more reason not to go (“Joe can’t go today. Let’s go tomorrow…”). If there is 50% chance you can make it to the gym at a given day, adding another person cuts your odds in half.
- Classes are extra: Just like the social advice above, classes add complexity and create a binary situation (I missed the spinning class, so I will not go today at all). If you want to go to classes, make it an option, not the rule.