The Gym Motivation Puzzle
Saturday, July 13, 2013
I've seen the words a lot of times: Sometimes, the hardest part is jut getting out the door. While there are no doubt people who don't struggle with this, it's certainly true for me. In particular, the more prep time that is required, the less likely I am to do an exercise activity.
When motivation runs strong, this isn't much of a problem. The motivation powers me through the gear-up, and the exercise is lots of fun. When motivation is medium, sometimes I play mental games to get through to the fun part of exercise. And when motivation is low, I'd better have a form of exercise that requires next to no gear up.
So . . . I joined a gym last Sunday. It was a good financial decision, *IF* I use the gym. My last gym was a good financial decision when I was using it; I ended up dropping it after I hadn't used it in several months. That's the danger with me and gyms; will I let low motivation and inertia keep me away?
You would think the first week would be no problem. Um, not quite. Sunday I went to the gym, lifted weights, and did 15 minutes of intense elliptical machine. I learned that the elliptical doesn't bother my foot injuries, and that my pedometer counts steps on the elliptical better than it does on a bike.
Monday I packed my gym bag, but ended up working a bit late and letting the time talk me out of a trip to the gym after work. Tuesday was a work at home day, and I got in to the gym for a swim after work. Wednesday I packed my gym bag, but instead of going to the gym came home to play with the new linked fitness and nutrition trackers on an alternate account. (See last Wedneday's blog; I'm not switching.) Thursday I mowed the lawn instead of going to the gym. Friday I was tired, and came home with the good intention of getting to bed early.
I see a pattern here. Every little excuse is a reason not to go to the gym. It's stupid, because I know I'll enjoy myself when I get there; but there it is. Somehow, I need to learn to deal with that and differentiate the little excuses from the valid reasons to do something else.
Today is Saturday. Saturday mornings I do laundry, so the washer and dryer will be open for my daughter to use at noon when she shows up and I take her to lunch. I got up early, and got the mandatory part of my laundry cycled through pretty quickly. And I thought about going to the gym before daughter got here.
Motivation is not the highest, but not the lowest either. It's time for mental games. I told myself I'd just go and do a short weight lifting session, shower, and then pick up groceries on the way home. Get rolling by 9, and it should give me lots of time.
Little excuses to not roll kept popping up. Wait for the washer to finish so I can throw the last load in the dryer. Check the weather. Get my grocery list. I ended up not rolling till 9:30. I did get to the gym before 10, with plenty of time to do a short workout then get groceries.
And the magic happened. Once there, I looked at the crowd. Saturday morning is not as crowded as Tuesday after work. I can have my pick of free weights. Found the one really nice weight rack, and set up to deadlifts. Okay, I'm lifting light because I took time off; but deal with that.
The equipment at the gym is a lot nicer than what I have in my basement. It's also a lot nicer than what I had in my former gym. And there was *nobody else* wanting the good weight rack. So I did 3 sets of 8 deadlifts, threw on another 20 lbs. and did a set of 6. Still nobody waiting in line. What the heck, let's do RDLs too. I've never done Romanian deadlifts and traditional deadlifts in the same workout, but the traditional deadlifts were on the light side.
There's the flip side of inertia; once there, it was super easy to move from one lift to another. Changing the load on the bar was much easier than it is at home.
I moved from RDLs to 30° incline dumbbell chest presses, then the low row machine. Went to look for hip abduction, and actually found the only machine in use. But the hip adduction machine next to it was vacant, so I did that first. By the time I got done, the woman on the hip abduction machine had moved on so I did the abductions.
That was enough lifts for one day. Time to stretch. The mats were occupied, but no big deal. There was enough vacant floor space with indoor-outdoor carpeting for my stretching needs. Looked at the clock feeling virtuous. It was still before 11.
Now I'm thinking about my baby 10K step streak and a probably sedentary afternoon. Maybe do 15 minutes on the elliptical to crank out some steps and make the evening walk shorter? Back to the locker room to get my iPhone and earphones. The canned music in the gym isn't what I would choose, which is okay for weight lifting. Sucky music just makes the testosterone flow, and you lift better, right?
Cardio machines are a different story. They are uniformly boring, and piped in music that's not of my choice makes them torture. So I want to block it out with music that is of my choice. Can do, and it makes the elliptical go quicker. It also helped that I found one that had the attached TV turned off. I am not a fan of TV.
Recalling how much work the elliptical was last Sunday, I started out slow. But I got faster as I warmed to the task. Got to enjoying my tunes, and really enjoyed watching the people on the lower level work with free weights. Some were novices, but there was a woman who had some really impressive exercises in her routine. That's much better than the canned TV.
Before I knew it, I talked myself into 30 minutes on the elliptical. I'll still have time to pick up few groceries, right? Turned out I didn't. Got done, got showered, and had just about the right amount of time to get home comfortably in time to meed my daughter for lunch. Between gear up, working out, cool down, and shower I spent more than an hour and a half at the gym.
This has happened before, too. Get there, and it's fun. End up spending a long time. Remember that, and the long time spent is one of those excuses that keeps me from going on later days.
It's a puzzle. It worked out well today, with lots of free time. But I think I need to learn to plan a short gym visit for week days. I don't yet know what the typical short visit will look like, but it's something to work on. Because doing *something* is better than doing nothing, and doing something regularly is better than doing a lot infrequently.
Just got to keep working on my mindset, I guess. I need to figure out what gets me in, figure out how to plan the time so it's not excessive, and figure out how to make it to the gym regularly. I want to have this figured out by October, so when Christmas traffic arrives in November I know what I'm doing and don't let the traffic be an excuse not to go to the gym.