Cute sneaks — essential to fitness. Although I don’t wear my cutest sneaks to the gym because I don’t want to ruin them. LOL. Also I promise I don’t work out on my bed.
This post is part personal reflection, part advice. To start: I’ve never been an athlete. Not even close. Nearly every person (boy or girl) played AYSO soccer (was this a thing where you’re from?) in elementary school. I didn’t. Neither did my best childhood friends, so I was fine with it. But that, coupled with the fact that I never did volleyball, basketball, softball (anything!) meant I didn’t play a team sport until I did intramural kickball last year. When I was 23. YEP.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just sit on the couch as a kid. I danced until I was seven, and after that, transitioned into figure skating, which I did multiple times a week until I was in high school. Then I switched gears and did theater and the newspaper! Which were fun, invaluable experiences that had a huge impact on me (after all, I’m a journalist today) but didn’t really contribute to good habits when it comes to physical fitness.
As I abandoned the more physically active routines of my childhood, I never really replaced it with anything else. And honestly, I’m lucky: I was able to stay fairly slim without working out with any sort of regularity in high school and college. From the age of 14 to about 22, I’d say I was lucky if I made it to the gym once every three months. More often, it was about six months.
After I graduated, I still put off working out. I was new to the city, I wanted to have fun. Working out isn’t fun! (Something I still mostly believe, to be honest!) But around January 2015, I was going through some personal issues, and hit up pretty much every gym in the city’s free trial program to try to work out the stress. And then, I made a big move: I joined a gym.
It still took me about a year — and a gym switch — to become someone who works out on a regular basis. And by regular, I mean I try for twice a week, but always make it at least once a week. I know, this isn’t much. But this post isn’t about becoming a fitness guru or falling in love with working out. To be honest, I still don’t really love it. Carly said it best earlier this year: I feel satisfied after a good workout, but that’s it. I don’t love the process, and I’m honestly always looking at the clock. It’s about making working out a part of your routine when it never has been before.
And with that, please know — I still have a long way to go. I see posts from bloggers who say they work out five to six times a week, and I’m honestly baffled. (How do you find the time?!) I have yet to be able to bring myself to wake up early enough for a morning workout. I’ll always prioritize grabbing drinks with friends over hitting up a yoga class. I’ve got a ways to go. (Although I’ll never apologize for putting friends over fitness!)
But I am proud of myself from going from being a person who would get laughs if I talked about going to the gym to someone who does feel guilty if I don’t make it there at least once a week. It may not seem like much, but to me, it IS huge. And if I can do it, anyone can. I do believe it’s all about baby steps. Right now, it’s once or twice a week, but maybe soon, it’ll be two or three times. Any improvement is improvement.
Here is how I did it.
Oh, and here’s some activewear I’m loving, because this post is a novel, I need some sort of visual to break it up, and I didn’t take any fitness photos. (Told you I’m not an athlete.)
1. Make it as easy as possible on yourself.
I mentioned above that I’ve switched gyms in the past few years. The first one I joined, Blink Fitness, was about 13 blocks from my apartment. Short blocks, but still, 13 blocks. It made going to the gym such a production that I hardly ever it did it.(Ironically, about six months after I swapped gyms, Blink opened up a location about two blocks from my apartment.) But who wants to work out and then walk 13 blocks home? When getting to the gym already is a feat for you, don’t make it any hard on yourself. Choose a location that’s super easy for you to get to, whether it’s a block away from your office or across the street from your apartment. When it’s that close, you’ll feel too guilty not to go.
2. Make it a bit of a financial burden.
You’re probably thinking, ‘Diana, why would you join a gym that’s 13 blocks from your apartment? Of course you won’t go.’ Well, you are smarter than my 22-year-old self. The reason I joined Blink was because it only costs $25 a month. And I had this idea in my head that because I hadn’t worked out much in the past I should spend the bare minimum on a gym. But since the commute was getting to be too much, I switched to New York Sports Club, which is a bit more expensive, but a lot closer.
It ended up kicking my butt into gear. Not only does NYSC have classes, a big motivator for me, but when you’re only paying $25 a month, it’s easy to be like ‘oh, whatever, it’s just $25’ and skip a week. And before you know it, you’ve missed a month at the gym. When it’s $50+ every month, I can’t reconcile not utilizing that money. If you truly can afford it, sometimes it’s good to make yourself feel a bit more indebted to your gym experience, as it can push you to go more.
3. Be realistic.
Y’all, try as I might, I am just not a morning person. I could sign up for a 9:30 class on Saturdays, but honestly, I know I’ll never make it. Instead, I set realistic goals — like making it to an 11:00 spin class instead. It’s just enough time to lounge in bed for a few hours in the morning, but not so late I feel like I’ve wasted my entire day up until then. To that point, I’d also never book classes three days in a row, because I know I’ll need a day off. (Okay, I’ve tried. And then I end up cancelling one to catch up with a friend, or my couch. Couch time is important!) It’s easy to feel like you need to be hitting the gym six times a week like that girl you see on Instagram, but your progress is your own — go at your own pace and don’t beat yourself up!
4. Find your groove with instructors.
Unless I’m out of town, I always make it to my Saturday morning spin class. And a big reason why is the instructor. She’s so motivational, has an amazing attitude and the best music. When you find an instructor you love, don’t let that slide by. It’s so important and can serve as a huge source of encouragement.
5. Make a conscious choice.
I’m not working out to lose weight (although I wouldn’t mind getting a bit more toned up!) or train for a marathon. I could have continued on, hitting the gym once a year and supplementing my fitness with occasional long walks in Central Park (which are great!) In the end, it was just a choice that I wanted to make working out a part of my weekly routine. I just decided I didn’t want to be the person who got winded after walking up a flight of stairs anymore. I didn’t want my going to the gym to be a joke. In the end, though it’s always a push to get myself to the gym, I’m always glad I went after. It’s a choice, every time, to go and do that work out. And in the end, that’s where my shift came from: Making a choice to make this a priority in my life in a new way.
While I still wouldn’t call myself an athlete by any means, I would say fitness is a part of my adult life now in a way it never has been. For most people, it’s not much — just once or twice a week. But for me, it’s something.
How did you make fitness a part of your routine? What tips and tricks have worked for you — and the biggest one, how can I conquer morning workouts when my bed is oh-so-cozy? Please, share below!