Even confirmed ‘meatheads’ who spend every spare waking moment ‘pumping iron’ down at the gym would be hard pressed to convince perpetual couch potatoes that the gym is anything more than pointless, monotonous torture. Or at least so you’d think. With the right attitude though, any task can take on a new lease of life, the gym included. Below we’ll be examining ways in which you can make your visit to the gym feel less like a chore and more like a true ‘leisure’ activity, and one that you might actively be able to look forward to.
A good ‘playlist’ can be an immeasurably effective catalyst for an effective workout. A good playlist for a gym session should consist of not only songs that you are familiar with, but songs which have a propulsive beat to them and will provide an effective pace for you to match. This is especially true when it comes to cardio work where pacing is absolutely vital. Although generic ‘dance’ music might seem a perfect fit, most dance music is completely void of emotion and whilst the steady rhythms might provide the right pacing, without any passion there’s little incentive to really ‘go all out’. Hip-hop is incredibly effective as the more defined low end acts almost as a representation of your heartbeat. And hey, if you’re struggling you could always just stick ‘Eye of the Tiger’ on repeat right?
Although this might seem like we’re trivialising the whole process, making a ‘game’ out of your workout session can really help incentivise those who feel they are not really getting any immediate satisfaction out of their gym time. Before you even step foot in the gym, make a physical note (on a piece of paper or maybe on your phone) of which machines you intend on using and what exercises you intend on doing and create little games based around them that will keep them interesting. For example, you could make your session on the treadmill into a race where you set a certain amount of kilometres and give yourself a set time in which to clear ‘them’. If you achieve your goal then give yourself a point. If you’re visiting the gym with a friend you can also make these games competitive if you wish, but remember never to lose track of the real goal. You’re there to get in shape, not to humiliate your mates!
One of the primary factors that cause many gym members to feel like they would rather be anywhere else isn’t fatigue but good old fashioned boredom. Unless you’re REALLY into it, cardio work just isn’t very exciting and whilst most gyms will have television screens scattered around, they will most likely be playing either a constant stream of generic music videos or the news (hardly inspiring). Try taking your tablet to the gym with you, preloaded with an episode of your favourite show or movie to help alleviate the intrinsic boredom of jogging in place. It can also help tremendously with the pacing. For example, say you take to the cross trainer and begin an episode of a 20 minute show such as The Simpsons? When that episode finishes, you switch to either another cardio machine or weights. No doubt you’ll find the time just flying away.
Yes it’s true that some people are not comfortable holding a conversation whilst they’re out of breath and covered in sweat, but the gym can be a great communal experience if you let it. Friendships and even romantic relationships have been known to take root in the gym and if you have somebody to go with or someone to meet there, then it will give you that little bit of extra incentive. You might even be able to see your visit to the gym almost in the same manner as you might see a trip to the pub. You’re going there to get healthy first and foremost but there’s no reason why you can’t also turn it into a social event.
Of course it might be that you get a great amount of joy out of the simple fact that you’re bettering yourself physically and if that’s the case then bully for you! There are no right or wrong answers here as when it comes to what people find entertaining, everyone has different tastes. The gym though is (for most of us) just not that intrinsically ‘fun’, however it can be (as with most other things in life) whatever you make of it. So why not make it into less of a classroom and more of a playground, all it takes is a little effort and a lot of positive thinking.
Emily Starr is a copywriter and reluctant gym member from the UK. With the help of a solid fitness regime, supplements from the good people at http://www.topprosupplements.ie and the tips detailed above she’s now in the best shape of her life!