If you have a gym membership you rarely use, don’t feel bad – it’s more common than you think! You sign up with the best of intentions (thanks, Groupon! Or that first-month-free deal… ) then never seem to get there. Then you keep paying the bill every month, feeling guilty and promising yourself that next month will be different. And it can be! Here’s how to reignite your love affair with the gym, or start one.
1. Make Sure It’s the Right Gym
Let’s face it, no one loves the gym, but it shouldn’t be a place you really hate. So start by asking yourself a few questions: Is it a pleasant environment? Do you feel comfortable there, or self-conscious and out-of-place? Are people friendly and welcoming? And, perhaps most importantly, is it convenient and easy to get to as part of your usual routine? If the answer to one or more of these questions is no, then start by asking friends to recommend a nearby gym they really like.
2. Don’t Play the Blame Game
A big part of creating a gym routine and sticking to it is mindset. Instead of framing it as a chore, or lecturing yourself when you don’t go, try to think of it in terms of future rewards: You deserve to feel healthy and strong, which is your reward for taking the time to work out.
3. Make It Fun
For some people, this means cranking the tunes. If this is you, make an upbeat playlist so you can just hit shuffle and hear your favorite energy-boosting songs. If you tend towards boredom and want something to occupy your mind, try an audiobook, maybe a mystery that keeps you coming back. Or subscribe to an addictive podcast series and make it exclusive to the gym – you have to go to hear the next episode.
4. Pay More for the Right Gym
If you chose your gym based on price but don’t love it, think about upping the cost a bit. Spending $80 a month on something you never use is wasted money, so you may as well spend a bit more for a gym with the features you really want. For example, if swimming or aqua-aerobics is appealing, it’s worth ponying up for a fitness facility with a pool.
5. Buddy Up
Working out is way more fun with a friend, so ask around to see if anyone is up for joining with you, or choose a gym that a freind already belongs to. You don’t always have to go together, but meeting up once in awhile – and maybe grabbing a drink or cup of tea afterwards – can be a big incentive.
6. Consider Classes
Before signing up, check the roster of classes. Do they offer yoga, zumba, pilates, or barre? Are there dance classes such as salsa or swing? Check whether there are additional offerings that sound fun to you beyond a general workout.
7. Double the Fun
Some people have been known to lure themselves to the gym with the promise of treats like a sauna or Jacuzzi soak. And some gyms feature cafes or juice bars where you can catch up with friends–or make new ones–over a glass of iced tea or a smoothie. Think about whether the gym you’re considering offers benefits that might boost your attendance. And it’s okay if that’s why you go!