So you paid for your gym membership. You have shoes that will suffice for your workout. You have your pick of clothes that are comfortable enough and show just the right amount of skin and muscle tone. You have a way to get there and now you're all set. Let's go! No? Not ready? Are we forgetting something? Ah, yes....motivation.
Some find they expend most of their mental energy as apprehension before the workout even begins. Shouldn't this be fun? Well, a classic study found that Physical activity becomes more of a chore in adulthood. This same study found that routine gym participants disliked liked their workout the most when compared to those who trained for a specific sport.
When we take a closer look at what kills the motivation for most, a lack of time, self consciousness, boredom, and tiredness are the top gym de-motivators. So what are 3 easy things can we do to increase our gym participation, or at least the likelihood we will show up?
Among my clients, exploring self-care is a huge part in reducing depression and anxiety. We are busy people who have mastered multitasking. Sure, we need to pay bills, take care of our families, and other obligations that are necessary for survival. However, many of us do not prioritize time to rejuvenate among the litany of to-do items. Going to the gym can be a major contributor to self-care. Jacuzzis, sauna, and massage can be super relaxing and possibly the needed lure into the gym. They take time to do, but they also make a great self-reward after a busy day.
Adding cardio after your pre-workout ritual may also increase motivation. It is a good way to burn off the humdrum and get the endorphins flowing- which help us feel happier. These two feel-good health benefits from a single visit may help make the gym a higher priority.
Thinking ahead can be so helpful in achieving the larger goal of getting to the gym. I would even say recognizing the sub-steps is just as important. Sub-steps are those pesky preparation steps we must do before the actual step can be made. For example, if you made the goal to start bringing your lunch to work, what you would bring and how you would carry it are sub-steps that can make or break the success of bringing lunch.
Sub-steps for a gym visit is considering all of the things needed to guarantee an easy journey. Do you know where your gym bag is? Where is your padlock? Do you have a toiletry bag and extra shampoo and deodorant you can keep in the bag? Do you have your motivational tunes selected and uploaded? Do you prefer your own towel, water bottle, lifting gloves, wearable technology, yoga mat, etc.? I know it almost sounds like preparing for a Sub-Sahara trip, but we want to ensure a pleasurable experience even if the voyage is only 20 minutes away. And ultimately, we want the experience to be something we will repeat often for a lifestyle change.
This technique is often used in sports psychology. The thought behind it is that it is difficult to achieve great things if we cannot picture ourselves doing them. A wonderful thing about visualization is that it piggybacks off the idea that practice makes perfect. If we can visualize us doing a task and doing it well, it supports the healthy mental repetition we need. A key part, though, is imagining ourselves doing it well. Thinking positive. If we doubt our ability or focus on the negative, we are defeated before we try. Also, depending on the circumstance, some may even experience increased anxiety or fear from the negative thinking. This we do not want. It makes the challenge even more difficult.
If you are caught in a negative thought cycle that is destroying your visualization, here is where the motivational music might help. If Rocky, the Olympic theme, or anything John Williams is not your thing, here are a few others to try. Professional baseball players have a home game walk-up song to get psyched, why not you.
Erica is a psychotherapist and humanitarian aid coordinator who has a background in health psychology, global health, and addictions. She has over 16 years of counseling, teaching, and coaching experience. Erica has several masters degrees, is a licensed counselor, and has an addiction certification. She has worked with all ages in the US and abroad. Follow Erica on Twitter. Se habla español.
Main Photo Credit: fiphoto/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: dotshock/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Africa Studio/shutterstock.com