If I think back, I can remember when I fell in love with my workout routine. I’d been going to the gym so regularly that it didn’t seem like a chore anymore. I was tracking my reps and keeping myself challenged. Even better, I was finally starting to see results. My body was starting to take the shape I’d envisioned when I started. I hadn’t always been a gym rat. In fact, the whole thing started out as a bet.
My two besties and I were sitting around a bottle of chardonnay and chatting about changes. It was just after New Years and we were regrouping after the holidays. We were all in a bit of a slump, so we started throwing around ideas about what we could do to lift each other up. My friend from Rochester reported slacking on taking the next step with her business. My gal pal from Yorkshire said she hadn’t meditated for a month. I, still feeling a bit sluggish from lunch, was complaining about my new holiday pounds. My friend from Rochester has always been the competitive one and she suggested a friendly wager. We each had to commit to doing one thing to change our daily routine and keep it up for a month. Whoever dropped out first, had to host a wine tasting for the other two, complete with cheese plates and hors d’oeuvres galore.
Never one to back down from a challenge, I set about putting together a gym bag the next morning. I had a cute pair of yoga pants I hadn’t worn in a while, some hair bands, a towel, a locker lock, and my water bottle ready to go. I tossed the bag into the trunk of my car and…forgot about it for a week. It was only when I had the trunk open to load groceries that I saw the bag and remembered my commitment. The next afternoon, I was walking into the gym with second thoughts. I reminded myself that our bet was only until the end of the month, then I could ditch the gym bag. However, when the end of the month rolled around, I was feeling healthier, was no longer intimidated by the weight machines, and had even made a new friend. So, I kept going. I was really getting into the swing of things when, about six months later, I was KO’ed by a bad case of the flu.
It happens to the best of us; despite our best efforts to stick to an exercise schedule, our gym routine gets sidelined. Whether it’s a bout of the flu, overtime at the office, or maybe having a baby, something has happened to interrupt our routine and we just aren’t going to the gym like we used to. It’s what I call “gym fatigue” but it’s no reason to sweat. There are so many solutions that you’re bound to be back up and working out again in no time. In this article, I’ll walk you through some of the common causes of gym fatigue and give you some recovery tips. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be ready to strap on those gym shoes, grab your yoga mat, and get to it!
Poor health - Just like me when that bug put me off my stride, some women have their routine interrupted by illness. Whether it’s something serious like surgery or minor enough to treat with cough syrup, it’s hard to get motivated when we’re feeling crummy. First and foremost, tend to your recovery. If you’ve had major medical problems, consult with a doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough to get back into the gym. When you are feeling better take some of the intimidation factor out of your return to your exercise routine by giving yourself permission to quit early. Start out slowly and don’t be afraid to say enough is enough if you start feeling faint or experience any pain. Remind yourself that improving your physical health is going to make you feel better and help you resist illness in the future.
Boredom - Let’s be honest; sometimes being at the gym can get boring. Maybe that Sunday morning Zumba class is starting to feel a little stale. Perhaps running laps around the same old track is getting tired. If you like using the elliptical, you probably have your favorite machine, the one that you hope is free every time you walk in. Trouble is, it’s got you staring at the same mirrored wall for miles. Combating boredom at the gym though, is like combating boredom anywhere else. The trick is to switch up a few things. Take a look at your facility’s schedule and see what else is going on during that Zumba class. Maybe trying out a new style of yoga or joining a spin class will shake things up a bit. Move out of your comfort zone a little and push yourself to use the treadmill on the other side of the room from your favorite machine. Instead of running indoors, see if there’s an outdoor track that would be more stimulating. Even better, go for a completely new activity like racquetball or rock climbing.
Travel - A lot of us travel for work, which means we don’t always have a regular schedule. We may not be home often enough to justify a gym membership in our neighborhood. Flying can sometimes give us jet lag and odd hours. But, traveling for business usually means we already have a schedule outline. You should know, for example, when you’ll be having lunch with a client or leading a presentation. So, take a look at that schedule and block out time for yourself too. These days, most hotels have even a small workout room and a pool. Take a look over the amenities before you travel, review your schedule, and add some exercise time. If you make it a part of your business plan, you won’t make excuses.
Distraction - It’s not always easy to say no to happy hour with our coworkers, or turn down an evening with friends in favor of going to the gym. When given the chance to do the fun thing or the healthier thing, is it any wonder some of us choose the fun option? In truth, though, we know which is going to benefit us more in the long run. But who says the healthier thing can’t also be the fun thing? You don’t have to give up having a social life when you commit to a workout routine. Exercising with other people can be a strong motivator. Encourage your existing friends to try out your gym (or you can try theirs). You can even add to your social circle by meeting other people who cheer on your accomplishments. There are several online groups that are dedicated exactly to that!
Long delay - So maybe it’s been more than just a little while since you’ve been to the gym. Instead of the interruption to your routine being a little hiccup, it’s more like an extended stay. But, you’ve decided that you want to give it another go, you just need that extra push out the door. Remember, you don’t have to go from being a couch potato to a Crossfit superwoman overnight. Being realistic about where you are with your fitness goals will help you stick with a routine once you start it. First, pick a date when you’ll being your new routine. Mark it on your calendar and start gearing up for it. Set up approachable milestones with simple rewards for yourself. For example, after you’ve stuck with your new schedule for a week, get yourself a new gym shirt. After a month, treat yourself to a new yoga mat.
The biggest single piece of advice I can give you that will help you get back into your workout is: don’t beat yourself up. There is no shame in having a case of “gym fatigue.” It happens to the fittest of us, the most experienced of us, and those of us with the strongest willpower. Don’t put yourself down and judge yourself for not keeping up with your routine. The true measure of strength is not never falling down, it’s standing up after you’ve fallen. After my workouts got sidelined by sickness, it took me a bit, but I got back on that horse. Now, I’m loving my routine and it’s even better since being restarted. Sometimes it takes a few false starts before we succeed and there’s no problem with that.