7 Ways to Amp Up Your Fitness Routine This Semester (For Real, This Time)!

Fitness culture has been spreading at a rapid pace on our social media, and we have all tried to follow it—but it's not easy for everyone. We have all tried fitting in a gym session at 6 a.m. on a weekday to feel productive, and sometimes we're successful—but other times, it's an epic fail. I, too, was one of the people who struggled with being consistent with the gym. This summer, I took it upon myself to go to the gym on the daily. Here's who I made it work, and how you can, too.

1. If you can, wear your gym clothes to class

Wearing gym clothes makes you feel like there is an obligation to go. There’s no excuse, like: “I don’t want to go back home to change and then go to the gym.” It is time consuming to do that, I get it! So, if you are already dressed for the gym after your class, then why not go work out?

2. Bring your gym clothes with you to class or work

For some people, wearing leggings sounds like underdressing, because some of us like to dress nicely to get ready to take on a new day, and that's totally cool, too. If you want to hit the gym, pack a bag with a change of clothes and gym shoes. I used to carry my change of clothes in a plastic bag inside my backpack in a very low-key manner. You can always put the bag in your car, so when you want to hit the gym, you already have the change of clothes with you wherever you go. Now you won't have the excuse of not having your workout clothes with you!

3. Watch exercise videos

When I first started, I had no idea what to do and what parts of my body I wanted to target. All I saw in the gym were machines that I thought were inoperable. Then, I started looking up fitness videos on Instagram to educate myself on different workout moves that I could do. It's fun to see variations of the same exercises that target the same muscle or part of body. The videos also helped me know which tools I could use at the gym; I could see whether I needed a resistance band, a dumbbell or a specific machine for an exercise that interested me.

4. Plan your routine

Take advantage of the “Save Video” feature on Instagram. Every time I saw a fun and effective exercise that I wanted to try out, I immediately saved it to my personal collection of videos—which I labeled as "Fitness" in my saved albums. That way, when I went to the gym, I already had a plan about which moves I wanted to try out. Also, take advantage of the classes that most gyms offer, especially at UF. They're a fun way to stay active and meet people at the same time.

Related: I Tried 6 Different Fitness Classes, & Here's What Happened

The gym can be scary for some people. This is mainly because they don’t know how to use the equipment or the tools that are provided. With watching videos, you get an idea of how to interact with the tools, and it gives you a better sense of how to know what you're doing. Trust me—not everyone knows what they are doing when it comes to fancy machines and complicated workout routines, and not everyone has all their life together, even if it seems like they do. You are not alone, babe!

5. Figure out if you like going alone or with friends

Going to the gym with friends isn’t for everyone, and neither is going to the gym alone. Everyone has their preference, so it's beneficial to know what works best for you and what environment makes you work your hardest. Personally, I work my hardest when I am alone because I am more focused on my goal. I talk too much to my friends if I go with them to the gym, and that takes up too much time, so I prefer to go alone and get done with my workout as fast as possible.

6. Find out what motivates you

Whether it's a cup of coffee, a fresh Spotify playlist or a new workout outfit, anything works—as long as it gets you to go to the gym.

7. Most importantly: consider the benefits

I immediately felt the positive effects of working out: I slept better and felt more concentrated and confident. The confidence was not because I looked skinnier or more “fit"—it’s because working out releases endorphins (aka “feel-good” hormones). So, it is really not about looking good—it’s about feeling energetic and ready to take on just about anything.

The main thing that I learned from this journey was that discipline is crucial for just about anything you want to achieve in life, whether it is a super-hot body or getting an A on an exam. Going to the gym helped me develop endurance when doing tasks that I don’t exactly enjoy. For example, when I was about to give up on my third set of abs I thought about how I had started and I was so close to finishing my set. The same goes with any school assignment: I would keep working on it until it is made, which helped me end my bad habit of procrastinating. This enabled me to complete the workout I had for that day, making me feel proud of my productivity.