9 Little Tricks that Make Working Out A Lot Easier
By Nicole Nichols, Managing Editor and Fitness Expert at SparkPeople
I am not a morning person, but a few times a week, I make myself a morning exerciser. It's the only way I'm guaranteed to fit in my runs. A couple weeks ago, I was too darn tired to wake up early to run, so I decided I'd do it during the workday instead. I packed up my gym bag with my running clothes, then scrambled around the hall closet looking for travel size toiletries and a towel; packed a change of clothes (going over my mental checklist of underwear, socks, deodorant, and a hairbrush), and headed to the office with a mental plan to run and shower during lunchtime.
I realized that by the time I packed up all my stuff, I could have been well into my run-or even finished a short workout (since 10 or 15 minutes of exercise is always better than none). And even with the best intentions-and a supportive work environment that encourages exercise-I never found the time to sneak away to run (let alone shower afterward). Before I knew it, my day was over, and my plans to exercise were foiled.
I enjoy exercising and make it part of my daily life-yet even I have trouble getting to it all the time. So I can only imagine how much harder it is for someone who doesn't like it and isn't quite in the habit. The whole scenario got me thinking about all the little things I do that have a big impact on my ability to stick with my exercise plans.
If you're having trouble sticking with an exercise routine, the most common excuses for skipping it revolve around lack of time, poor priorities, and motivation. These nine little things will help you tackle hurdles in all of those categories.
Keep your gym bag packed.
This is especially important if you exercise at the gym on your way to work or during your workday. Keep a checklist inside your bag of all the items you need to pack each day to prevent yourself from forgetting crucial items. Invest in a large gym bag with room for your clothes, and spend a little extra money to buy set of travel size toiletries that always remain inside your bag. A second hairdryer (or whatever other accessories you might need) could be worth the cost if it means "I forgot my hairdryer" will no longer be an exercise excuse for you to skip the gym over lunch.
Join a gym en route to work.
It's pretty hard to skip the gym when you have to drive by it on your way to work or your way home each day. For that reason, I've always joined whatever gym is literally on the way. Since time is an issue for me (isn't it for everyone?), it's way too easy to drive home rather than driving out of your way to a gym-especially if you're not that motivated. Joining a gym that is easy to get to is one of the best excuse busters around.
Give your goal a deadline.
Sign up for a race (like our Virtual 5K this fall!), and your motivation to stick with your training will stick around-I promise. Even if you're not a runner or a walker, you can sign up for other events or competitions in weight lifting, biking, Crossfit (for all you Crossfitters out there)-you name it. Or if a little competition doesn't do it for you, set a real date for your fitness goals and tell everyone you know about it. If you tell all your co-workers or family members that you're going to be able to do 100 pushups or 15 pull-ups by January, they'll keep you accountable.
Invest in your fitness.
If you're financially savvy and get a high from getting a bang for your buck, then buy some fitness-related items to keep you motivated and on-track. Purchase a 30-day pass to a yoga studio, some new workout clothes, a high-tech fitness device (more on that below), or a gym membership contract, then make sure you are getting the most for your money. Going to the gym just once a month may mean that each visit costs you $50-and that's not a good buy. (My father-in-law actually likes to joke about how much each of his gym visits cost him since he rarely goes.) Why not see how low you can bring your per-use cost down to by using it more often? Go five times a week and that brings it to just $2.50 a visit-talk about a good deal! Those $80 workout pants are pricey when you only wear them to bed, but wear them once a week to the gym for a year, and their per-use cost is about $1.50-a good buy!
Keep your equipment accessible and visible.
I like to keep my home clean and de-cluttered, but one thing I like to do on occasion is place small piece of fitness equipment in a visible place in my house. For a few weeks, it serves as reminder to use my equipment. When I first bought my kettlebell, I kept it in the living room. And every time I walked past it, I would do 10-20 kettlebell swings with it. Think about what else you could do: a pair of dumbbells in the hallway; a resistance band in your home office; and a stability ball in the family room could all be cues to drop and give yourself 5 minutes of exercise on the fly!
More from SparkPeople:
- Habits of Fit People: Sleep in Your Workout Clothes
- Habits of Fit People: Leave Your Gear at the Gym
- Habits of Fit People: Create a Workout Playlist
SparkPeople Fitness Expert Nicole Nichols is an ACE-certified personal trainer and AFAA-certified group fitness instructor. You can learn more about Nicole and her workout DVDs here.