We’ve all been there- it’s your first day back at the gym after a long break and you look around and think, “everyone *definitely* knows I haven’t been here in months.” Perhaps you were traveling for work, nursing an injury, got caught up by holidays or vacation, or were simply too into that new Netflix series to think about the gym. The important thing is, you’re back!
It’s normal to feel awkward when you’re first getting started again, but we’ve identified a few tricks that will help you feel great about yourself and stay motivated as you get ready to sweat it out again:
Define Realistic Goals
Remember the old adage that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Slow and steady is our focus here, especially after a long time off from the gym. The last thing you need is an injury just when you’re getting started again! Perhaps you want to de-donut stubborn tummy roles, or work on some tricep toning for that fabulous sleeveless dress you can’t wait to wear out. Whatever your motivation, check out this helpful guide, written by health professionals, to get started again at the gym safely.
Be patient with everyone, but mostly with yourself
You’ll still have the occasional twinge of self-doubt when you see the person next to you performing a seemingly-endless plank, or some beast pumping major iron, but remember that it takes time- everyone’s body and pace is different. Avoid becoming one of those gym-quitters whose motivation drops off after a few weeks. As well, you’ll occasionally hit a fitness plateau, where despite your best efforts you seem to stop making progress for a while. Don’t let demotivation take hold, and especially don’t judge your own progress by that of those around you. You’re doing the best you can, for you!
Get some new threads!
Nothing feels better than a new outfit, especially when it’s linked to a renewed motivation to work out. Gone are the days of old sweatpants and shapeless t-shirts at the gym- bring on the attractive gymwear! There are lots of great styles and brands on the market, so it’s worth it to try out a few different options until you really find something that feels like a good match. Remember that you want to feel attractive in your workout clothes, but that they also need to be highly functional. Leave the fitted silk tank-top at home. Also remember there’s no need to be conservative- now’s the time to brighten up your workout with some fun patterns and colors. If your clothes are fun, chances are you’ll have a good time, as well!
Don’t go it alone
Even if you’re an experienced gym-goer it’s never a waste of time to have a few sessions with a trainer. Knowing you’re using machines and doing exercises correctly not only helps avoid injury, but also boosts gym self-esteem by helping you concentrate on form and not on whether people are looking at the goofy way you do a bicep curl. Even better, sign up with a buddy! Going to the gym with a friend can cut down some of the anxiety of going it alone.
Reward yourself for progress
Again, you’re not measuring your progress against anyone else’s but your own. Try one of these free exercise tracking templates to see how much stronger/faster/leaner you’re getting, and then set benchmarks for when you deserve a reward for a job well done- just don’t do it with food! Treat yourself to a few new pieces of exercise wear to show off your new figure, tickets to the theater or cinema, or better yet, a night out dancing to have fun while you work off extra calories! Most important, remember that exercising in the gym should be fun and enjoyable.
by Benjamin Rhatigan