Now that you’ve started working out, here are tips on how to keep going
BY SUE ONTIVEROS Staff Reporter January 8, 2014 6:02PM
Updated: January 21, 2014 4:59PM
Every January, newcomers head to the gym and think they can turn into a fitness nut overnight.
When you, the newbie, go into a gym and see the regulars at full throttle and loving every minute of it, it’s probably taken months, maybe even years to develop what has become a pleasurable routine.
But don’t be discouraged. You can get there and you should want to be like them eventually. Exercise has too many benefits to not make it a part of your life. It can offer protection from developing heart disease and certain cancers — including colon and breast cancer — according to the Harvard School of Public Health, which also touts exercise’s ability to give our bodies strength, flexibility and balance. Numerous studies have found it helps combat depression and makes it easier to sleep well.
How can you not want something so valuable in your life?
Here are some strategies that’ll get you working out AND enjoying it:
Start slow. Been going to the gym every day since Jan. 1 for hours at a time? Stop that. You are not giving your muscles time to recuperate; that’s a good way to injure yourself, too. Don’t overdo it.
Make it convenient, comfortable, educational. Gym XYZ may have three floors of great equipment and fun classes, but if it isn’t easy for you to get there, you won’t. Chicagoan Erin Nagle picked a gym between home and work; some days she goes before work, others, after. She says, “Once I get home, especially in the cold weather, I know I am not going out again.”
And if you feel intimidated by a gym or just don’t like the atmosphere, your chances of quitting are high. “You need to be comfortable with your environment,” says Marge Lyse, trainer at Downsize Fitness in Naperville.
When Ernst & Young senior manager Marty Schneider, who’d been running for about a decade, decided he wanted to get into strength training, he sought a smaller gym, Hard Pressed. “I wanted to learn how to lift weights,” the East Village resident says and wanted a gym that would provide instruction. “At the bigger gyms in the city you see the equipment and are not sure how to use it.” He has “seen results” with the specialized coaching he’s received at Hard Pressed.
Do something you like. After college and as she began her career in commercial real estate, Nagle’s mom encouraged her to get into some sort of exercise. While mom is a marathon runner, Nagle knew she wasn’t a big fan of running, but decided to find activities she liked. Today she hits the gym four to five times a week.“I love going to different classes, playing tennis, different types of cardio,” she says. Still doesn’t like running all that much, but she found exercise she does enjoy.
Give it a chance. Chicagoan Sharyn Ioffe, who works in investment management, recommends committing to 10 times at an exercise before quitting. She herself wasn’t an immediate fan of spin class. But she kept going. “I didn’t like it at first, but now I love it,” says Ioffe.
Just go. It happens to everyone — you don’t feel like hitting the gym. Go anyway, gym rats will tell you. “Once you’re there you’re so happy you went,” says Nagle.
Or, tell yourself, I’ll go for 10 minutes and if I still feel this way, I can go home. By giving yourself that permission to go home, you’ve turned the workout from a requirement to an option. And I’ll bet once those 10 minutes are over you’ll still be at the gym.
Exercise — it’s everywhere! It’s not only at the gym where you can work out. Lyse incorporates exercise into everything she does. If she’s putting away groceries, she does it doing squats. Taking the laundry upstairs, she does it in a few trips to get more steps in. And on the day I talked with her, this 54-year-old grandmother had been making snow angels in her driveway. “Great arm workout, great leg workout,” she says.
Watch the stress disappear. Everyone we talked to for this story mentioned how working out combats the stress we all encounter. And Schneider says on the days he works out, he notices his work performance is better.
Be patient. Keep working out and one day you’ll realize hey, I am liking this.
As Ioffe says, “I can’t really imagine my life without it. It’s part of who I am.”