“6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!”

Maybe watching the countdown, you were thinking of a countdown of your own.  Making 2009 the year you drop a size, drop some weight, feel strong and healthier.  Maybe you’re thinking about joining a gym.

You’re not alone.  And, when you get to the gym, you’re really not alone.  Everyone’s on the elliptical.  You’re battling for bicycles.  Working out’s a lot of work, even before you sweat.  It can be tough to stay motivated when you’re feeling lost in the crowd.
Working as a personal trainer, I’ve seen the ebb and flow of resolution crowds.  And there are a few simple ways to keep your space, and keep your sanity, while you’re meeting your exercise goals.

1.  Know that the gym is going to be crowded, and commit to getting fit anyway. (You’ll be okay, I promise.)  You just have to outsmart the crowds.

2. Figure out when your gym’s at the most crowded, and schedule your workouts in an off-peak time.
For gyms that get a lot of corporate office members, the most crowded times are before work (6:30 to 9:30 or so) lunchtime (12:30 to 2) and after work (5:30 to as late as 8). Gyms that are near a lot of houses or people who work from home will probably get bigger crowds in the late mid-morning, and on weekends.
Ask someone on the gym staff what time the crowds die down, and schedule your workout then.  Take a late lunch break, come later in the mid-morning, or a few hours after the after-work commuter crowd has died down. Another trick is to look at the schedule of workout classes:  Most gyms schedule classes at their most crowded times.  Go at other times, and you’re sure to have space.

3.  Hire a personal trainer. Trainers will know the ins and outs of your gym, and will be able to design a workout that uses free weights or stability balls or resistance bands- some of the equipment not everyone in the gym knows how to use.  So you’ll get a smart, personalized workout, and the individualized attention you want.

4.  You can work out at home, of course, if you have space. You could follow along with a DVD.  (Netflix.com and Blockbuster Videos actually have fitness videos you can rent and try out.)  Or if you want a personal trainer to come to your house, you can find someone online.  Accredited certification organizations like the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise maintain databases of personal trainers, who can come to your house and train you there.

5.  Get a friend to work out with you and keep you motivated. This is smart no matter how big the crowds of resolution-makers get.

6.  Get creative.  Maybe the new year is time for a brand new workout, like taking an introductory class at a Pilates, yoga or even dance studio.  You might have so much fun dancing salsa you won’t notice that it’s good-for-you exercise!

And above all, remember two things.  Be proud of the changes that you do make in this season of resolutions and new beginnings.  And the other resolution-makers will probably be out of your way by Valentine’s Day!

Be well!

– Elizabeth W.

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  • Boston Gym January 9, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Some really great tips for anyone trying to get back into/start a work out routine. Although it can be difficult to start, once you have an established routine you will feel so much better.