Kudos to the countless who crowd the gyms each new year with fresh hopes of getting fit. The good news is January is a great time to reboot fitness goals. The bad news is with so many of us heading to the gym, it can get pretty packed. Don’t let the extra bodies and the extra wait for the weights slow you down. Try these five tips for getting your full workout in – even in a packed gym.
Try bodyweight training
You don’t have to wait for weights . Instead, use what you’ve got to get what you want. Body weight exercises such as push-ups, lunges, squats, wall sits and planks require no special equipment. You use your body to build muscle and get in a workout that burns fat, boosts flexibility and builds core strength.
Go for the less popular machines or classes
If your gym is like mine you can count on crowds for the most popular classes and equipment i.e. the treadmill and elliptical machines. You can still get a good workout in if you decide not to stand around and wait. Why not try the stair climber or stationary bike instead? Instead of step try Zumba. Trying something different can help you challenge different muscles. You might also find that doing something new keeps you engaged – so you are less likely to be bored. In other words, try to release expectations about what you can or are supposed to do while at the gym. Step outside of the box and be flexible to get the most of your experience when the gym is crowded.
Avoid the hot times
The gym is usually most crowded between 4 and 8pm. Obviously, there is a reason for that. Early evening is the most convenient time to hit the gym. Still, if there is any way to rearrange your schedule so that you can workout before work or even later than eight in the evening you may be able to bypass the biggest crowds. That may mean getting up a lot earlier – a challenge when it is dark and cold or finding childcare, but if you just can’t manage the crowds this may be your best bet.
Grab a set of dumbbells and stake out a spot at the gym. You can then skip fighting for other weights and equipment. Use the weights you score to do all of your exercises. Opt for six to eight reps per set and include moves like the shoulder press, squats and bent over dumbbell rows. Add in some jumping jacks or jump rope and you are golden.
Leave the room
Many gyms have more to offer than the weight, cardio and class rooms. If your gym has a pool, basketball or racquetball court, or even an indoor track, why not use them? Swimming is a great, low-impact workout, the indoor track is a nice alternative to the treadmill and basketball or racquetball are both excellent ways to bring play into your exercise routine. When the gym is crowded, look for places outside of the common areas that help you stay active.
The annual ritual of hopeful gym returnees doesn’t have to be a drag. Let the extra bodies motivate you to move your workout away from the same old routine. You may just find a new interest or even discover that your workout is more fun than frustrating.