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10 ways to love the gym again

Ah, workout excuses. From the classic ‘one more month and I’ll be serious’ to the downright ridiculous ‘but it’s my birthday month’, we’ve tried them all to avoid getting our slowly-but-surely drooping derriere back to the gym. Don’t get us wrong, we love it once we’re there. There’s nothing better than that post-workout feeling when you feel invincible (and of course the added bonus of having worked off the cals from last night’s feast), but what about when you’ve taken a longer break from the gym than originally planned? The struggle is real. So we asked the experts for their top tips on getting back into the sweaty swing of the things and selected the best. So here are 10 ways to love the gym again…

1. Start fresh

‘Have an induction so you know the facility and the equipment well, and also who to go to for advice when you’d like it’, says Deborah Fleming, GM at The Gym in Wembley. Yes, you may have already had the induction but if you can think of any equipment that you’re not as comfortable or familiar with at your gym, here’s your chance to get to know it and ask any questions you might have on how to use it and how it will benefit your workout.

2. Take small steps

Don’t forget the little exercises that you can work into your day; taking the stairs over the lifts, taking public transport over driving, or getting off the bus a stop earlier. It’s a common tip, but that’s because it really does help. ‘You’ll be surprised how even the smallest amount of exercise can positively affect your wellbeing, says Anthony Brett, PT and assistant GM at The Gym in Liverpool.

3. Look good

Opt for something that is as practical as it is flattering. Cladding yourself in technical gear that doesn’t make you feel good will affect your performance just as much as impractical wear will. ‘A nice gym outfit and trainers you actually enjoy wearing can change your attitude and confidence immediately’, says Deborah.

4. Change your scene

If your first thought when you think of going to the gym is a bad one, or it makes you groan, you could be bored of your usual location. In which case a change could make all the difference. Why not take it outside? Try using park benches, park gym equipment and the monkey bars in the kids play area (avoid peak hours though!). ‘Mixing up your training location is a great way to change your scenery, so working out feels less of a chore. Joining a gym is also perfect for meeting new people with similar goals’, says Lee Constantinou, body transformation specialist at bodybuilding.com

5. Play it loud

Music is a really important motivator – especially if you’re working out solo. The right tunes will keep you going strong when you feel like giving up and can also be a great distraction when you’re tired. ‘Create a ‘gym playlist’ that reminds you of your fitness goals and motivates you to work out. Keep the songs up-beat and happy – to help create your own fun atmosphere to train in’, says Deborah.

6. Be prepared

Do you know your workout? Does it involve equipment? Do you have a back-up plan in case that equipment is being used? You don’t want to over-complicate your gym routine but be prepared for any spanners that might be thrown in the works. ‘Have a training plan to follow so you know exactly what you’re doing. This way you won’t feel like you’re being watched and if you are, it doesn’t matter as you have a workout to get on with!’ says Deborah.

7. Get organised

Whether it’s in your personal diary, or on a note stuck on the fridge, mark off your workouts so you can track your efforts, which will encourage you to stay on the wagon!). ‘Ticking your workouts off after each visit gives you a record of how far you’ve come and makes the overall goal so much more manageable’, says Barreworks founder Vicki Anstey.

8. Buddy up

It might take you a while to find the right one (everyone has that one friend who loves to bail) but once you do, gym sessions can be twice as fun and rewarding. ‘A training partner is also helpful for sessions where you’re lacking motivating as they can push you and be a good ‘spotter’ – someone who assists you in the gym’, says Lee. You could even pair up with a neighbour who goes to the same gym, or even someone you’ve met there.

9. Switch it up

If you’re feeling uninspired, it might be time to try a different kind of workout. Always choosing cardio? Switch to weights instead. And vice versa. ‘A HIIT session should be quick (no more than 25 minutes), which is a great way in, or try barre, aero-yoga or a boxing session – something to distract your mind from the hard-slog,’ says Vicki. ‘You never know, you might discover a way to workout that you never even knew existed!’

10. Fuel your body

‘If you haven’t exercised in a while, the session will demand more of your body than you might be used to’, says Vicki. Your performance during the workout will be determined by sustenance and energy. ‘Remember that you will only get a high-performance workout if you have fuel in the tank. Go for a small meal or snack containing protein and good fats – like nuts, avocado, oily fish – beforehand and then re-stock glycogen levels with a banana afterwards’.

And finally… relax

Long stretches and even longer, hot baths are just as important as the workout (and make for a nice treat after all your hard work! ’Stock up on Epsom salts for a relaxing, warm bath after your first workout’, suggests Vicki. ‘Don’t let the onset of muscle soreness ruin your bid to get back in the game too soon!’.