For most collegiettes, the gym is probably not what you would consider your “happy place” (if it is, more power to you). At the gym, you’re in a perpetual state of being sticky and sweaty, you think everyone is judging you and you may feel the need to compete with the gym rat next to you who is running at lightning speed. You treat exercising there the same way you would homework: You know you should do it, but you dread every moment of the task. If this is your outlook, clearly it’s time to make a change! By following these tips, you’ll be on the road to making the gym your “happy place,” or at least something closer to it!
1. Set up a healthy reward system for yourself
Consistently working out can be tough for many of us to accomplish, so you should definitely celebrate when you meet your workout goal for the week. You don’t want to reward yourself with extra dessert and undo all of your hard work, so give yourself a reward that is just enough to make you feel happy and motivated to keep going.
Reward yourself by getting a mani or buying that cute clothing item you’ve been eyeing for a while. Set up a specific calendar that outlines how often you want to go to the gym and how you’re going to treat yourself.
2. Change up your workout playlist
Listening to the same 12 songs on your gym playlist can be helpful since you can build your workout around it, but eventually the songs will get dull. Every so often, switch up your playlist completely and try new artists. Spotify has tons of playlists you can listen to without a premium membership that cater to every workout —cardio, dancing, lifting, running and more.
You may even want to try listening to something other than music. Download an audiobook or subscribe to your favorite podcasts; that way, you can catch up on the book you haven’t had time to read or even listen to your favorite comedians.
Megan Shuffleton, a junior at Emerson College, says she often listens to audiobooks while exercising. “[Listening to audiobooks] lets me do two productive things at once, making me feel twice as good,” she says. “Plus, focusing on what the author or speaker is saying distracts me from thinking about when my workout will be over.”
3. Track your progress with gym selfies
Consider the gym selfie a newer and lighter spin on the typical mirror pics you see everyone take all the time! Snap a self-portrait each time you go to the gym to document your overall goal. Even if your overall reason for working out is to stay active and fit and not necessarily to lose weight, this option can still work for you.
If you’re feeling energetic and are having a successful workout, snap a pic with your biggest smile. If you’re having an off day, show it by making a frowning face in your selfie. By the time you reach your fitness goal, you can look back on your journey—you’ll be guaranteed a good laugh. If you’re feeling extra goofy, send your gym selfie of the day to your best buddies. Who knows, maybe it’ll become a new running joke between you and them, or maybe they’ll even join in!
4. Compete with your roommates
Use your competitive nature to your and your roomies’ advantage by creating friendly competition you can all partake in each month. Whether you keep logs on who hit the gym the most often per week or who spent the longest time at the gym per outing, set up some sort of prize for the winner. It can be something little, like a free pass from garbage duty for the next few weeks, or an iced coffee on each of your roommates. Just don’t get too out of hand; if you both hit your goals for the week, you can tie and treat each other!
5. Try a fitness app
Everyone knows it’s frowned upon to be chatting away on your phone while at the gym, but that doesn’t mean you have to stash your cell away completely. There are tons of fitness apps out there that will make you eager to hit the gym, like Nike+ Training Club, Moves and Zombies, Run!.
Kasia Jaworski, a senior at Villanova University, says she changes up her workouts by spending some time away from the machines and using Nike+ Training, which allows you to customize your routine and get inspired. “Sometimes I’ll find an open space or empty workout room and use [the app],” she says. “It’s kind of like a personal trainer on your phone.”
The best apps out there will do far more than remind you to exercise or tell you how many sets and reps of crunches you should do. Zombies, Run! is particularly fun because you’re placed in a virtual chasing game where you’re running away from a mob of zombies. The interactive features will have your adrenaline pumping and your mind thinking you’re playing a video game!
6. Play a game with friends
Many universities have state-of-the-art recreation centers that have many different spaces you can exercise in, so don’t feel you always have to be glued to an exercise machine! Playing a game with friends is a great option to try out if you’re really close with your floormates or if you want to fit in some extra socializing. Also, if you’re the type of person who hates the feeling of working out in a room full of strangers, this is a fun alternative.
Once you’ve gathered a group of friends, reserve a court or another open facility space where you can all work out by playing a group game like dodgeball or capture the flag. These grade-school games will not only bring back some intense nostalgia, but they’ll also whip you into shape—you’ll be surprised by how tired you are afterwards! Most university gyms have a policy detailing the minimum number of people you need and how far in advance you need to make a reservation, so check out your facility’s website. Though the policies vary from school to school, you’ll probably have to make a reservation two days in advance at the very least, so don’t just gather your friends on a whim!
For most of us, going to the gym feels like a big chore that we have to painstakingly do on a regular basis, but that’s probably because we commit ourselves to the same old boring regimens. By using these tips, you may actually end up looking forward to the next free time you can head to the gym!