Workout wisdom is hard-earned. Despite our best planning, life is learn as you go, especially in the gym. I’ve been a trainer, a gym owner, and an exercise junkie, but there are some things I wish I knew when I started down the road to being a killer! (I’m no killer but damn it felt good to live that for a moment!) Okay, back to reality. Listen up for stuff I learned the hard way so you don’t have to.
1. You don’t have to murder the workout each time.
You don’t have to give everything you have every single workout. Deselecting “beast mode” sometimes can actually help you accomplish your goals quicker. Ease off the throttle one day, come back stronger the next. This one is also important for psychological and physical longevity.
2. It’s okay to just lift at times.
No conditioning at all. You won’t lose your fitness overnight. Also, you won’t die.
3. You don’t have to ditch your old hobbies.
Just because you have a new fitness love, you don’t have to forsake other forms of exercise, whether that’s cycling or triathlons or basketball or whatever. You can regularly do more than just one form of exercise. Plan well and do what you like to do!
4. You should take rest days.
Don’t have “rest guilt” and burn yourself out. Don’t even feel like you have to learn and play a new sport on your rest days. You decide what you should do based on how your body feels, and sometimes your body needs to recover and watch Netflix.
5. It’s okay to follow only what your coach says or your gym recommends.
You don’t have to look at any other gym or anywhere else. You don’t have to compare yourself to anyone else. Do your workout, go home, live your life. No one will break down your door in the middle of the night and enter your bedroom with snarling attack dogs because you’re not “serious enough” about working out. Well, at least I hope they don’t.
6. Just because you work out does not mean you have to be Paleo.
It’s okay not to be “anything.” Sure, you’ll have people tell you, “Nutrition is the base of the pyramid.” They’re right: nutrition is very important. But there are a lot of ways to build that pyramid, including counting your macros (or not). But even if their pyramid has washboard abs, it doesn’t mean you have to do what they say. Smile. Hug these well-intentioned people. Then do what you want. It’s your life.
7. You can pretty much wear anything you want.
This isn’t Catholic school or the military; there is no uniform requirement. Don’t like yoga pants? Don’t wear them. Ditto on high socks, bright shoes, and shirts with suggestive sayings. (By the way, does anybody really need another t-shirt with a snatch or balls joke?) Work out in a hijab if that’s your thing. Push press in a sundress. Squat in jeans. Do what makes you happy, not what you think will make other people happy.
8. It’s okay to NOT talk about working out.
Get this: there are OTHER things to talk about! (I was surprised to learn this too.) But, honestly, I used to be 95% CrossFit talk. Workouts, videos, blah blah blah. No wonder my girlfriends left me. Now I have a healthier balance, and my conversations are much more interesting. I’m not saying you have to abandon gym talk, just that broadening your outlook might be cool. Try it. You might like it — and so may the other people in your life!
9. There are no prerequisites for being awesome.
It doesn’t matter if you back squat 100 pounds or 500 pounds, you’re still awesome! 80% of Americans don’t belong to a gym, and 50% do not exercise regularly. So if you’re doing anything at all, you’re doing better than half of America! Congrats! Now keep going!
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