I am the least athletic person I know – I was never good at sports, I hated PE, and I tire out way too quickly from any form of physical exertion. That being said, I go to the gym pretty regularly. It’s hard sometimes, especially when you have mountains of homework and it feels like the gym is too far away, but your PE class shouldn’t be the only time you see a treadmill during the semester. Sometimes getting to the gym is the hard part and sometimes it’s tricky to figure out what to do once you’re there. Here is a starter guide to the gym:
1. Make a plan before you go.
Schedule out a time for yourself and make a plan for what machines you’re going to use and how long you’re going to use them for. This’ll help motivate you to go to the gym and help you get started much quicker once you get there. Pick a time when you are less likely to get caught up in work, forget, get distracted, or put it off.
2. Go with a friend.
Sometimes your friends are good source of motivation. Making a plan with a friend or having them text you to remind you will help ensure you get to the gym. You guys can also keep each other going while you’re in the middle of your workout. Also, going with someone who works out a lot or knows how to use the machines can be a huge help.
3. Avoid rush hour.
It’s super frustrating when you make the decision to go to the gym, change into your gym clothes, walk all the way over there, only to find that all the machines are in use (or worse, it’s closed – remember to always check the building hours). At Bryn Mawr, the gym is busiest from around 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on weekdays (it gets a little busy after 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. too). The best time to go is after 6:00 p.m. The gym is also generally less populated on the weekends.
4. Bring water.
You are going to get dehydrated while you are exercising. Not bringing water is brutal. Water is necessary. Don’t forget to bring water.
5.Stretch before and after exercising.
Stretching is important. If you don’t stretch, you risk straining or pulling a muscle, which is painful, especially if it happens in the middle of your run. (That's not a lesson you want to learn the hard way.) Also, try to do at least a bit of a cool down, such as biking with the resistance on low for five or ten minutes or walking around once you’re done.
6. Start off small.
If you’re trying to make going to the gym a regular habit, or even if you’ve never worked out or haven’t gone to the gym for a month, start off easy and small. Don’t set the resistance on the elliptical too high. Don’t try to bike for two hours. Pick a manageable but slightly challenging level and workout duration. Then, after sticking to that level for the next few times, increase it gradually.
7. Pick a machine that looks easy or familiar
If you're brand-new to the gym, pick a machine that looks simple, straight-forward and familiar. Try doing something you already know how to do, or do on a regular basis, such as walking or biking. Treadmills, exercise bikes, and ellipticals are usually safe bets. If you don’t know how to use a machine, ask someone who works there. Safety first!
It’ll make it easier for you to exercise if you have something to do while working out. While gyms often have TVs and magazines for you to look at, it’s probably best if you bring something of your own. If you have a lot of reading to do for tomorrow’s class, bring that. If you just started a great book, bring that. Listening to music or podcasts are normally good choices. I have seen people watching Netflix or YouTube off of their phones or tablets at the gym. Whatever will make the time pass faster and take your mind off of the exercise.
9. Wipe down your machine.
Always remember to wipe down your machine once you’re done. It’s just polite. And hygienic.