It's no secret - I'm not a gym lover. I've tried it. I've tried going alone, with a friend, with a partner, going locally - I'm just not a fan.
I used to think it was just a confidence thing, that once I got used to the machines, the showers and everything else that I would slowly but surely learn to love it. Looking back, I think exercising in a gym surrounded by people completely works for some people, but it does not work for others, and that's okay too. What I've learned is that it doesn't mean that exercise is not for me, it just means that the gym is not for me, and I'm (finally) okay with that.
My new gymless routine involves yoga, pilates and walking (which I will build up to jogging any day now) and I'm finding new things that I like and don't like every day. Without the pressure of a gym membership, I'm finding exercises I love that I actually enjoy doing.
If you love the gym and being under a bit of pressure helps to motivate you to exercise, that's great. But if you're struggling with going to the gym but don't want to give up on exercise (or want to start getting active during lockdown), I feel you. Today, I'm sharing my tips for finding an exercise routine that's right for you, no gym required.
Think of a form of movement/exercise that you truly enjoy and then build on it.
Don't be afraid to listen to your own intuition on this one - ie., don't just start doing a class or exercise you hate because "everyone" is doing it. If you don't enjoy it, you most likely won't stick with it, and that will just lead to feelings of disappointment and puts a further barrier between you and exercise.
I'm no expert, but from my own experience, my advice would be to start with what you do like and build on it. If you feel better after a long walk but feel stressed and unmotivated in the evenings, maybe restructure your daily routine to incorporate a walk in the mornings to freshen you up. After a while, you could build that up into a brisk walk or even jog. When you really start to enjoy something, you'll be surprised at how far you can push yourself.
Or, do you like the idea of yoga and meditation? Pilates incorporates breathing, stretching and body awareness and works your muscles a little harder than yoga, and could be a great new exercise option if you feel that yoga isn't enough of a "workout" for you.
The point is - walk before you can run (literally) and don't put too much pressure on yourself. If you start with what you enjoy, you'll feel braver and more confident to move onto newer, more challenging forms of exercise. And always, always exercise from a place of self-love, not of self-punishment.
Feel free to reach out to a personal trainer and ask for a bit of advice. You could even set up a session with them simply to ask questions put together a plan for yourself. It's always best to get expert advice and you never know, they might surprise you. If you're not a big exercise lover, personal training can definitely be intimidating, but there is nothing wrong with simply looking for help - you don't have to become a gym worshipper if you don't want to - when you're starting off.
A personal trainer will be able to tell you what muscles to train, what exercises they'd recommend and will usually take your own interests into account too. They will also have a look at your lifestyle and diet so that your new plan is tailor-made for you. Starting off on the right foot is a great confidence builder and when you're doing workouts that are made fo you, you might begin to enjoy it more.
There are so many places offering Zoom classes at the moment, and the timing couldn't be better. If you've been nervous about trying out a new form of exercises such as pilates or aerobics and have been feeling a bit self-conscious. taking part in a Zoom class in the comfort of your own home is a great way to test the waters. For many of them, you don't need an ounce of equipment other than a mat and some water to stay hydrated, and they are a great way to see what works for you and what doesn't.
So, try that Zumba fitness class, try that pilates class and try going for a run around the block (if restrictions allow). You've nothing to lose, and you may just surprise yourself.