It’s a truth we Swifties know well: life is a series of eras. Next to mine tender girl AND dinner eras, this summer saw me take on perhaps my most amazing identity yet. With weights and a yoga mat in hand, I’ve now entered my gym-girl era.
Take a quick spin on Instagram or TikTok and you’ll find influencers and friends ditching their outdoor jogs or boutique fitness classes for strength training at the gym. Whatever got you into the habit, whether it’s a desire to build strength, meet friends, or empower yourself with something completely new, the outdated belief that the gym is only for bros or bodybuilders is over (thank god). We hit the gym in droves, snapping our unapologetic mirror selfies without looking back.
But as anyone who has ever embarked on a fitness journey knows, the journey is not linear. Instead, it ebbs and flows, moving with the rhythms and patterns of life. And remember, exercise is meant to be fun (endorphins, yall!). With all of these truths guiding my way, I dove deep into all the joy that can be found in a solid gym routine. Read on for what I’ve learned through the experience and expertise of fitness instructors to not only make fitness a habit, but a lifestyle that I love.
The hacks that helped me create a gym routine
1. I’ve found a workout I’m obsessed with
I played sports all through college. But after graduation, with a new 9-5 schedule, the same activities no longer fit into my life. As any late 2010s 20-something would have done, I blindly followed what everyone else seemed to be doing on my feeds: SoulCycle, boxing, bootcamp workouts check, check and check. But everything I tried felt like a chore. I shuffled my feet in every studio and incurred late fees after canceling classes an hour before starting time.
So what worked this time? I’m still kicking myself for not realizing this sooner: Do the workout you love! It’s a simple truth that applies to almost everything in life: When we love something, we can’t wait to go back to it. When I entered my gymit’s all connected. The music was uplifting, the trainer was inspiring, and the low-impact movements were challenging, but left me feeling empowered and accomplished. The adage rings true: follow your happiness (fitness).
Of course, this may require some experimentation if you haven’t undergone a workout you love. AS Morgan Raphaelthe creator behind Self-care company and an instructor at the I study Free People Movement in Chicago, she reminded me, it’s okay to explore different forms of movement when you’re just starting out. It encourages fitness newbies and those looking to change things up to try out different workouts to see what feels good and fun for you. And remember, this will be different for everyone.
2. I learned to trust my body
Now that I was connected to a workout that I was really looking forward to, I found myself challenged by a second hurdle: letting go of what I’ve been told an effective workout looks like. Over the years, I’d internalized the belief that if I wasn’t completely exhausted, dripping with sweat, and spent at least an hour in the gym, then I wasn’t actually working out.
PSA: While going all-in may sometimes be what our bodies need, every day looks and feels different. Some days may mean challenging yourself with heavier weights or going on a long run. But you can’t and shouldn’t go faster, harder, or longer in every workout. Jodie Lyonsinstructor at three Chicago fitness centers: barre3 West ring, Page One Pilatesand Full Circle Pilates, agreed. When you’re just starting out, it can be tempting to go all in, Lyons noted. But give yourself time to readjust. Don’t go too hard, too fast. If there’s one thing that really changed the game when I was first building my gym routine, it’s Lyons’ advice: Rest days are key.
3. I listen to a high-vibration playlist
I’ve never been one to work out without music, so that wasn’t a surprise I found that the experience of going to the gym became even more fun when I found motivating music. Also, I started to see my gym sessions as a hobby when I introduced this creative component. Music makes training more than a purely physical pursuit. It’s fun to discover songs and artists that are new to you, and I’m also often curious about what other people are listening to. I find myself growing and learning as I build physical strength and it’s been one of the most game-changing benefits of becoming a self-proclaimed gym girl.
Raphael added that it can be fun to introduce new playlists as the seasons change, honoring the natural changes that can occur in your body and energy throughout the year. I love making seasonal playlists that capture what I want to hear in my workout, he said. Raphael pointed it out to me Seratonin playlists and vibes are perfect.
Fitness is not something we have to pursue alone. While our goals may be different, moving our bodies, gaining strength, and experiencing growth are some of the most rewarding things we can share with others. And thankfully, fitness communities are easier to reach now than ever. No matter how niche your interest (Pickleball, anyone?), there will be someone just as dedicated.
Raphael added that finding a fitness community can introduce a positive element of accountability, stating that there are other people in your life who encourage you. Not sure how to get started? A community can be as simple as a friend or partner you connect with after your workout. This also gives you an opportunity to reflect on internal measures of success. Ask yourself: How do you feel after that particular workout? Do you feel stronger, more coordinated or more aligned in your body? Have you learned or experienced anything new? I have found that by asking myself these questions, I reaffirm the positive rewards that can come from training.
5. I embrace walking as a workout
OK yeah, this article is about me in my gym girl era, but a big part of my fitness routine is also walking more. If you haven’t heard, Hot Girl Walks aren’t just a passing trend. They were all inclined to walk like a sustainable and enjoyable form of exercise. And as I’ve found, interspersing my days at the gym with walks outside is one of the best ways to make friends with other wellness-focused fellows. Alivia Lee, fitness instructor and founder of 54 Wellness, is such a strong advocate of the practice that she’s even started her own walking group (bonus points for community building from #4). Connection, movement and some time outdoors? Walking is a real training trifecta.
6. I prioritize myself
Every one of the fitness instructors I spoke to agreed: When you start thinking of fitness as a form of self-care, everything changes for the better. In the past, my workout was often the first thing to go when the days got busy. It seemed like the easiest way to free up time in my day. But as abandoning my workout routine became more of a pattern, I noticed that my sleep, emotions, and general well-being all suffered. Treating my workouts like a meetup has helped make myself a priority. Even as someone who teaches fitness, I recently took a four-month break from working out, Lyons admitted [Editors Note: see, breaks are OK too!]. But I put a block of time on my calendar four times a week and treated my workout like a meeting, marked it as a top priority on my calendar, and showed up.
Of course, if I was exhausted or my body needed a break, I was more than happy to give myself a rest day. But now, when I’m faced with the decision to stick with my yoga class or say yes to another task at work, I remember how great my workout feels. Lyons’ words ring true: When you make that time for yourself, you’ll have a lot more mental space for whatever you do with your day.
Shop the must-haves of my gym routine
A large part of my success in the age of gym girls is cultivating a toolbox of products that make me feel motivated or make working out more convenient.
While I love the energy and ambiance of hitting the gym, I’ve learned that having some gear at home or to take with me on the road (looking at you, booty bands) ensures I’m consistent on my hitting the gym days it’s not realistic. . Plus, whether I’m hitting the gym or working out at home, these are my go-to water bottles, yoga mats, and workout gloves.
While I do my best to look at internal factors for motivation, activewear sets that fit my body well make me feel confident, meaning I’m more energized and motivated to hit the gym when I’m wearing a good outfit. These are my all time favorite pieces that always make me feel good about myself and excited to move my body.
Snacks and supplements
Health will always be holistic and fitness goes hand in hand with nutrition and how you nourish your body. I rely on supplements to restore electrolytes before a tough workout or protein to help restore muscle and snacks to put in my gym bag to give me energy. Below are my favorite picks.
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Image Source : theeverygirl.com