Staying Active for Gym-Haters

I hate the gym. I hate the smell of disinfectant, the blaring work-out music, feeling inadequate compared to the athletes around me, changing awkwardly in the locker room. I forced myself to go for a solid year because I didn’t realize how many other options were available to me — and I was miserable for a full hour four days a week. There’s no reason you should be going to the gym if you geniunely don’t enjoy it. For some people, the gym just takes getting used to; once they feel more sure of how to use the equipment, everything’s fine. For others, there’s just something about a room full of ellipticals and weight machines that’s innately distressing. The following tips are for both parties:

• Try the gym during off-hours: Scope out when the gym is less packed or when teams don’t have their workouts scheduled. For some people, it’s much easier to enjoy the gym when they’re less self-conscious. Experiment with working out during quieter hours and see if that’s more your style. Once you feel more comfortable on the equipment, you may feel ready to work out when the gym is more crowded.
• Check out free campus classes: Sometimes they’re not well advertised, but most colleges offer exercise classes free to students. From yoga and pilates to Zumba and spinning, you can probably find an outlet that you actually enjoy. It may mean waking up before dawn or rearranging your weekly schedule, but it’s definitely worth checking out.
• Explore your college town/city: Gym memberships are expensive, but if you really don’t like your school gym’s atmosphere, it may be worth looking into other local options. Many gyms offer student discounts, so don’t be afraid to ask. Bigger cities have even more options, from free yoga in the park to marathons and races. Ask around, look for reduced price opportunities, and find something that works for you.
• Ditch the car/shuttle: Instead of driving or taking the shuttle to class, wake up a half hour earlier and walk. You can make a mini workout of it, not unlike cardio time at the gym; put your headphones on, pack a bottle of water, wear your sneakers (with a change of shoes in your bag if you so choose) and enjoy yourself. You’ll feel energized for the day despite the tiny bit of sacrificed sleep, and it’s a chance to actually enjoy some fresh air.
• Go with a friend: Find a workout buddy, someone who has the same likes and dislikes about types of exercise that you do. Decide together how you want to schedule your fitness routine — whether it’s a weekly yoga class, an off-hours gym workout or a daily walk into town — and commit. This is a great motivational technique, a way to make your New Year’s resolution into an actual routine. It’s also much more fun.

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