I see it every year.
Along with things like quitting smoking and changing the diet, getting in shape is at the top of people's New Year's resolutions list.
On January 1, the flood gates open and gyms are taken over by an abundance of new members. You've probably noticed this wherever you choose to get fit, and the crowds can be tough to navigate as lineups form for cardio equipment, classes turn people away and overcrowding becomes commonplace.
I've worked in gyms for years, and here are three recommendations I give clients, and that I follow myself, to navigate through all the chaos.
1. Start Working Out Earlier In The Day
Early morning workouts can help set you up for success throughout the day. The busiest time of day in gyms, usually 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., now becomes packed to the gills. This means that even more people are taking up equipment and machines.
If you normally work out around this time, try the switch to the morning to avoid the crowds and net some extra health benefits. If you perform any high-intensity interval training, the calorie burning effects can last longer as there is more day to let it carry over to.
The endorphins released through exercise can also help improve your mood going into the start of your day and at work where you may need it the most.
Exercise also improves mental focus and clarity for a long period afterwards. When you work out later in the day, you lose this full benefit. A workout improves blood flow to the brain, and even a short,10- to 40-minute burst of exercise lead to an immediate boost in concentration and mental focus
Don't hit snooze button but get yourself going in the gym early in the day, it will be less busy and you may find you be hooked on the early morning workouts!
2. Take Your Exercise Outside During January
This is a little more dependent on the climate you live in, but here on the East Coast of North America, we are experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures. If you're used to being in a gym and don't feel like fighting the New Year's crowds, this could be a good time to enjoy the outdoors.
This can be anything from simple, brisk walks to long hikes and bike rides. Jogs in the park are great, and so is finding stairs to run up or open areas to do some sprints through. It's good to get outside as often as you can especially as gyms get more crowded and germs are more readily spread everywhere.
As more people coop up inside when cold and flu season hits, the more likely you are to come in contact with them. Help yourself out by stepping away for a bit. If you find yourself still in the gym throughout the next few months, let me pass on the very best exercise you can do:
Wash your hands thoroughly every time you finish working out.
3. Take A Week Off From The Gym In Early January
The New Year's resolution rush in most gyms tends to taper off around the third week of January. It's almost a perfect science that I see every year. If you've been training hard the last few months, this could be a good time to take some time away and let your body completely rest and heal.
When you constantly are breaking down muscle tissue and exerting yourself, it can be beneficial to take some time off to let everything recuperate. This can be great to recharge your central nervous system and even give yourself a new mental focus. I always make sure, and recommend, to take five to seven days off after every three to four months of training.
Getting in some extra rest when things start getting overcrowded can actually have you coming back stronger and more energized than ever.
Wrapping It Up
I understand the frustration that comes from your health club, fitness class or yoga studio becoming overcrowded, but don't take it out on the new members. Remember, these are people trying to make changes in their lives and giving them attitude really doesn't create a positive atmosphere.
Remember back to when you first started -- you probably felt hesitant. So if you see someone who seems lost, maybe go give them a hand and pass on what you know now. We're all on the same road to health and wellness, we're just at different points in the road.
You may meet a new friend and help someone make a healthy, positive change in their life.
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