How to Get Back to the Gym (After a Summer Outside)

September is a motivational time – something about the back to school vibe brings out the goal-setter in everyone. Unfortunately, much like our New Year’s Resolutions, a lot of plans are made in September don’t pan out.

Health and wellness goals are high on the list of abandoned plans. Have you noticed the trend? The gym will be full of eager new faces in the first few weeks of September, only to noticeably thin out come October.

How do you make the transition from sunny days outdoors, to dedicated time in the gym? Most of us are acutely aware of how important our workouts are to our well-being, so how can you make them stick this year?

Easy Does it

For most of us, when motivation shows up we want to hit the ground running(in this case, quite literally). We’ve had a couple of months of relaxing, our energy stores are replenished, and we’re ready to get back in the swing of things.

You might feel like a million dollars your first day back at the gym, but remember to start slow and ease into it. One of the biggest mistakes people make in September and January is to take on big, big workouts right away (lots of heavy lifting, lots of miles on the treadmill, and/or several intense cardio classes a week), without building strength and endurance first.

Best case scenario, you’ll be incredibly sore and tired by the end of your first week. Worst case scenario (too often seen by our physiotherapists, massage therapists, chiropractors and acupuncturists), you run the risk of seriously injuring yourself.

So find a program that starts at a manageable level, be it with a personal trainer or online, and follow it. Without cheating. In the long run, if you take on too much right off the bat, you’ll only be cheating yourself.

Accountabili-buddy

Even for those of us who love to put in our headphones and get lost in our workouts, having an accountability buddy can be our saving grace when we really don’t want to work out.

Are you a more social person? Find a friend at a similar fitness level to you, share your goals, pick the same program, and chat up a storm while going through it a few times a week. Promise that you won’t let each other off the hook. Grab dinner afterwards. Make it fun! You’re more inclined to keep going when you’re not dreading the experience.

Less social? Make an agreement with someone with similar tendencies. Share your plan, your goals, and a time to meet at the gym every week. Nod at one another, turn on your iPods, and go to town. Just knowing that someone’s there to notice if you’re not is a surprisingly effective way to stay motivated.

Take Breaks & Reward Yourself

This goes hand in hand with easing into your fitness routine, but be sure to include some rest & recovery time and, more importantly, some rewards.

So much of sticking with an exercise regimen is about retraining your brain and actually enjoying the process of getting fit. Knowing that, if you work out four times during the week, you get to take the weekend off, is a great way to keep yourself motivated to give it your all.

And, please, reward yourself for sticking with it! Hit 90% of your workouts for the month of September? Awesome. Take yourself out for an amazing dinner, buy yourself that tool set/ purse/ bottle of wine you’ve been eyeing and relish the fact that you’ve earned it.

Stay Outside

A lot of people heading back to the gym in September aren’t necessarily coming from summers of rest and relaxation. Biking, running, and hiking fill up many of our summer workouts, and with good cause: being outside is invigorating, nourishing, and just generally pretty great.

The best part of living in Victoria, BC (or really anywhere in British Columbia) is that fall isn’t the herald of a great migration indoors. The weather here may start to get a little damp, but there’s no reason to halt your outdoor excursions.

Throw on a rain coat and hike Mt. Finlayson. Go for a run on Dallas road in a toque and gloves. As long as you’re willing, there are always ways to stay outside on the West Coast.

Getting back into the swing of things doesn’t have to be torturous and hard, and can actually add some great variety to your life and fitness regime. Just remember to let yourself enjoy it.