Because of our 9-5 jobs, very often, we don’t have the luxury of choosing when we do our fitness workout. As a result, we may be forced to compete with crowds and wait times at the gym during peak hours. I’ve personally experienced this many times at several different gyms. Here’s what you can do to make the most of your sweat session.
Dealing with the Seasonal Rush:
At the university facilities in particular, the gym tends to be busiest between around 3 pm and 7pm during the months of September to October and then again from January to February/ March. This period usually coincides with the Back- to- School and New Year’s resolutions to shed a few pounds.
Similarly, at other gyms, the peak hours most often fall between 4pm and 7pm when most people are getting off work. Avoid these times if at all possible, unless you don’t mind the bustle of the crowd and/or you don’t have a choice. For those of us navigating the peak hours of the gym out of necessity, the aim should be to strategize, improvise, and maintain awareness.
Plan and Strategize Your Workout Routine:
To make the most of your workout, always plan ahead so you can target the equipment or exercise area while avoiding waiting in line. Know beforehand exactly what equipment you will be working with— elliptical, free weights and bench, 40 lb barbell, etc. On my weight training days, I know precisely what muscles I plan to work on and what I need to do so.
This allows me to maneuver the gym more efficiently when it’s busy. If the 40 lb barbell is taken, I can switch up and grab the ankle bands for kickbacks. If both are unavailable, I can try and grab a leg press machine. Having a good handle on what you are going to work out allows you to triage and navigate a jam-packed gym.
That Said…Learn to Improvise:
Instead of getting frustrated when your stations are occupied, get creative. If you at least know what muscle group you’re working on, you can discover other ways to work them effectively without the piece of equipment you were looking for. At one point, the barbell I wanted to use was taken, as well as the machine alternative.
As another option, I chose to use a body bar instead— one of those solid foam-covered rods weighing in at different increments. Although I’m used to handling more weight, I was able to double up and squat two bars at once (these things aren’t usually very cumbersome). Other weight training alternatives you can use: resistance bands, free weights and an exercise ball if no bench is available, stairs and dumbbells.
Tip: Be Aware of Other Gym Activities:
When I used to workout with at one of the major gyms, I had usually had to compete with numerous other gym-goers for cardio machine time. Eventually I understood that much of the crowd were attending a weight lifting class; often, the girls opted to hop on the machines for a quick cardio prior to the session.
Lesson learned: being aware of the goings on at my gym allowed me to get the edge in logging prime machine time. By arriving 10 minutes early, I was able to secure myself an elliptical or treadmill before the pre-class rush came in. Conversely, knowing that most of the equipment freed up shortly after the class started, I could also aim for that transition time as well.
Make Use of All Available Space:
Many gyms nowadays have exercise rooms for women only; take advantage of this and check out all training areas when it’s busy. Don’t be afraid to move equipment around either. If the weight area is particularly packed, you can usually move one of the benches and dumbbells to a less- congested corner. I usually pack up the weights I need and move to the mat area and do my moves there. Depending on your gym, there may be studio space where step or cardio classes are held. If it’s vacant, you can also utilize this area.
Ask to Share Equipment:
Though we don’t always think to do so, ask another gym-goer if you can split sets on the bench. This is a reasonable request, especially if it’s packed. Likewise, you can ask to take turns using the weight machines between sets. If you’re uncomfortable doing this, stake out a spot near an occupied bench or machine and perform whatever exercises required with free weights.
That way, you can proceed with your workout while still keeping an eye out for the next available bench or machine. The buddy system also helps. Exercise with a friend, and trade off on equipment; perform your barbell routine while your pal uses the bench, then switch. You can also consider the followings for your cardio training days.
Change Up Your Cardio at The Gym:
But, if you fail to get the chance of holding any equipment needed for your workout and see that cardio machines are free from the crowd, then it will be better to cease your exercising thirst by doing cardio instead of leaving the gym without doing anything. However, in this case, we all know that the gym and its machines can get monotonous, but for those of us who don’t enjoy sports or hitting the outdoor trails, we might find ourselves in a bit of a bind. Don’t fret!
There are ways to make your cardio machine workout more interesting with subtle adjustments and a little variety. Aside from merely changing the resistance, speed, or incline, incorporating props, like music or other media, into your workouts can definitely give you the edge you need to make it through an otherwise sucky cardio sesh.
1. Keep Pace With Your Favorite Show:
Machines with TVs, or those positioned in front of a screen, can definitely make running on a treadmill a lot more interesting than staring at a wall. Amp up your workout by changing your pace according to the sequences in your show. Next time you run to your favorite sitcom, try changing your speed or incline every time the scene changes.
Mix it up between going faster and then a little slower. For example, for the first two scenes of your show, speed things up, then for the third scene, take the ramp down a notch. You might also try running at a certain pace until the commercial break; during the break, take your pace down a notch to a steady jog, then once your show’s back on, speed it up again. This will help you to complete your training within shortest time which will make the opportunities for the others to do that in your gym.
Mix it up further: Use your TV show as a mood changer by which to pace your run. Aside from changing tempo according to the scene changes or commercial breaks, what you’re actually watching can help you channel more energy into your cardio workouts. Some of us find sports boring, but if it tends to get you all riled up, putting the channel on the sports network can definitely work to your benefit. If there’s a good action movie playing on a movie network, try that as well. What’s playing can help add some adrenaline to your cardio workouts, and as such, you might find yourself pedaling to the same tempo of the scene.
2. Run to the Music:
Use the same principles above, and apply them to your playlist. Music adds stimulation to an otherwise boring workout, so put together a good mix to add variety to your cardio. See if you can vary the track lengths and tempo between moderate pop and fast dance-type songs, so you’ll always have a steady beat to run to.
Pace your run or bike sesh according to the tempo of the song that comes on. If it’s a fast- paced track, take your speed up a notch. If it’s a more moderate-paced track, opt for more resistance over speed, like adding an incline or tightening the belt on your bike while maintaining a moderate pace.
Mix it up further: Music also sets the mood for our workouts, so you might also consider mixing up the genre of your tracks as well. Throw in some tough metal tracks with your dance-y tunes. You might find the adrenaline level changing depending on the mood of the tune, and as such, your energy levels and pace will also vary.
3. Magazine Magic:
Normally, I avoid reading material when I’m on the ‘mill, since it can be distracting (and as such, can cause injuries), but depending on your pace and the medium you’re using to perform your cardio (bike versus ‘mill), mags can be useful visual props to help bolster your workout. If you’re looking to perform a walk using a ramp, reading or even flipping through a fashion mag can be appropriate (see below for safety considerations and such).
See if you can vary your resistance or ramp as you go page by page. After you’re done breezing through one spread, adjust your resistance. Just as you would using music or TV, change your machine’s variables so you don’t get stuck exercising at the same pace for 30 minutes.
Tip: if you’re looking to hit the ‘mill for a run rather than a hard walk, opt to ditch the mag or book. It’s nearly impossible to keep the pace you’ll need if you’re reading and running, and it can definitely cause injury if you’re not focusing on your form. Reading generally requires more concentration and scrutiny than merely observing, as you would with a TV show, so take note. Even if you’re walking at a brisk pace or cycling, always to be sure to check your form and maintain some focus on your cardio, so you won’t end up tripping, falling, or getting your legs caught.
Special Notes On Exercising Before Work:
You know, it is better to be an early bird to avoid the over crowd at the gym in the peak hours and for the early bird, getting your workout over with before your day even starts can be your best bet. Because you’re exercising before you head to the office or class, there is no need to haul your gear with you to and from work.
You also have the option of showering and getting ready in the comfort of your own home, so you likely won’t have to compete with anyone to use any machines at the gym and even the blow dryer (except for maybe your younger sister). So, what keeps us away from being an early bird?
Have Your Gear Ready to Go:
The power of laying out your outfits the night before is incredible. The average woman can take anywhere from five to fifteen minutes to piece together what they’re going to wear, so if you can get this prepared ahead of time you’ll save a lot of stress and running around in the morning. Seeing as you’ll be getting dressed twice— once when you work out and again after your shower— having everything laid out will ensure that you’re not stumbling around blindly looking for a pair of socks that match.
If you’re running outdoors, it’s a good idea to check the weather network the night before as well. This way, you can adequately anticipate what type of clothing you’ll be putting on beforehand, rather than getting to the front door, opening it, and deciding that you have to go back upstairs and change.
Know Your Routine:
It’s of the utmost importance of knowing your routine prior to actually hitting the gym, but it’s even more important to plan this out ahead of time if you’ve got to be at work at a certain time. Knowing what type of workout you intend to perform will allow you to plan how early you have to wake up in order to get in that routine.
If you’re going to be hitting the treadmill for half an hour, you can count backwards at least a half hour from the time you need to be leaving the house to get to work on time. You can refer to last article’s tips on measuring your preparation time to figure out how to account for how long it takes you to get ready.
For those hitting the outdoors, it’s also important to know your route. The morning jog before work might not be the best time to experiment in a new neighbourhood, not only because you might get lost, but also because it might be more difficult to gauge how long your route is overall.
If you do decide to hit up a new street, keep a stopwatch or other timing device on hand. Simply turn around and head back towards your home once you hit the halfway mark of your workout. You should keep in mind that this is easiest to achieve if you pick a long boulevard or street, since if it’s a new route up and down several different streets, you might take a bit longer to remember how to get back if the streets are unfamiliar.
Have a Sports or Nutrition Shake:
One of the drawbacks of working out first thing in the morning is that you’ll likely be battling early morning hunger pangs. If you absolutely need to eat before working out, you might find yourself adding extra time onto your morning routine. Depending on the workout and the amount of food you consume, you may need to digest before heading out to run. Instead, a quick cup of coffee or a light sports or nutrition shake may be optimal to sip on as you’re getting ready to head out. Keep it light, and save the eggs for after you get back from your workout or on your way to the office.
In terms of feeding your belly post-workout, pack a nutrition shake with your work stuff so you can nourish your muscles as you drive to work. Eggs or a homemade breakfast wrap pack a powerful punch of nutrients and protein that your body needs after sweating it out, so if you’re pressed for time, take it to go.
You know, you have to overcome all the obstacles to reach your fitness goals and the most challenging part is to maintain your fitness for long run. First of all, you need to be motivated and next to that reading fitness blogs will help you to overcome the adversities you may face during your long term fitness journey. No more today. Best wishes for your fitness.