So you've enrolled at the local gym for the third time in five years, having wasted the last two memberships and forgotten those infamous New Year's resolutions. This time you will surely follow through, you say. But by the fourth day, those aching muscles have caused you to oversleep and by the weekend, the hangover has made it impossible for you to go to the gym. The guilt of a new membership and new gym gear gnaws at your conscience for a while, but you shut up that stupid alarm and go back to bed because there's always tomorrow, right? We know how tomorrows are and tend to not come, and before you know it, membership number three has also gone down the drain.
Getting charged up and starting out is one thing – an important thing for sure; but keeping at it THE thing. Getting up and going to the gym day after day after day is hard work and requires some serious motivation. I've been gymming regularly for nearly three years and fitness is now a part of my lifestyle. But even for the most disciplined among us, there are hard days...
Some days I turn to Dana Linn Bailey, some days to Frank Medrano, and some days to King Julien! Fitness motivation can come from anywhere. If those super-athletic people with impossibly perfect bodies seem too distant as role models, there's no harm in turning to Dreamworks' 'Lord of the Lemurs' for inspiration. The dance-loving, fruit-eating, self-absorbed primate is just the guy who can make you want to move fast, eat right and love yourself. The important thing is to keep moving. Because a fit body isn't going to make itself.
Here are five things that make me look forward to my workout and get the most out of it.
Not enough is said about the importance of a pre-workout routine, especially nutrition. If you're not going to tank up before you roll, how can you expect to go any distance? But I don't mean stuffing your face when I say tank up. One fruit, a cup of coffee, or a scoop of pre-workout supplement, take whatever works for you. I've tried several things like MRI's Black Powder and while it is effective, it is also expensive. I now depend on a spoonful of peanut butter which is my personal supercharger. Just one spoon gives me enough energy to go through an hour of workout and it doesn't make you feel too full. Peanut butter is not just my pre-workout fuel but also my favourite between-meals snack. Delicious, nutritious and economical, my nutty affair is here to stay.
PLEASE DON'T STOP THE MUSIC!
The receptionist at my gym will tell you how much I bugger him if the music goes off for even one minute. To be honest, I hate cardio routines. I cannot bear to run on the treadmill for even five minutes during a warm up if there's no music. As long as there's beat, I'm happy. From EDM to pop to Bollywood music, I can use just about anything to groove my dumbbell. There are hundreds of workout playlists on the Internet. Pick what works for you. But if you're like me and like to pump serious iron, you have to check out workout music by Rob Bailey and The Hustle Standard. Their track 'Hungry' from the album 'Battle Tested' is my absolute anthem.
While many prefer to fly solo, many work better with a partner. The gym is one place where I prefer the latter. It goes without saying that your gym partner should share your level of enthusiasm and commitment, otherwise they'll just be dragging you down. Of my last 2.5 years of regular gymming, I've had a fitness partner and it has worked fabulously well for both of us. Not only does your partner aid while lifting the heavier sets, but also helps you get up and get going on days you feel lazy. Someone who knows your strengths and weaknesses, someone who shouts “Come on, last five reps!”, someone who you can fool around with when the music gets boring, is useful indeed. The best part is sharing an occasional burger on a cheat day!
VARIETY OF ROUTINES
Boredom is another reason why so many people cannot sustain a regular workout regime. Honestly, how interesting can it be if you choose to pound away at that treadmill for an hour everyday or cycle away on a stationary bike till the end of time? Run outdoors if you must run or at least do some circuit training, yaar! Lift light to start with. Promise I won't laugh at you when I see you huffing and puffing with that 10 lbs dumbbell. I started with those too. Weight training is definitely more absorbing than basic cardio routines at the gym but they can get monotonous too. I, for one, get bored very easily. But I persist because I keep changing my workout plan. A body part a day sometimes, sometimes circuit, and on some other days, a mix of weight training and cardio. Get a personal trainer or use the vast Internet resources to mix and match a workout plan. Keep it varied, keep it interesting.
DIET & SUPPLEMENTS
I don't care much for either – diets or supplements because I have this passionate relationship with food. Not that it's a good thing. A healthy diet is an absolutely indispensable corollary to living a fit life. And if you can maintain one, nothing like it. But I realised early on that diets make me unhappy. If I completely give up on my rice, rotis or chocolates, I can't think straight. And salads downright make me sad. So the next best thing to do is eat in moderation and exercise like a beast. I used to take wheys and protein blends for a while, but my current student status doesn't allow me that budget. So I eat lots of eggs and dal and tofu to maintain my muscle tone.
But for those who can afford it, there is a world of choices in supplements. From pre-workout shakes to proteins, from performance enhancers to fat burners, the range of products is vast. Apart from the usual big names, a number of new brands like ETB Fit are making their way into the market. While I haven't tried their products, they seem affordable and effective.
Whether you stick to your old brand or new, whether you workout alone or with a partner, whether you love your treadmill or your dumbbells, never lose sight of that final goal: FITNESS!