With summer still upon us, many of us are still hitting the gym to tighten up, bulk up, or just to build endurance and develop healthy habits. Maybe, like me, you’re preparing for a race later this year, or maybe you’re just slimming down in time for the upcoming fattening seasons: Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Whatever your reason for working out, there are many mistakes we make along our fitness journey. While we can’t avoid them all, here are ten mistakes I’ve made at the gym that you shouldn’t.
1. Forgetting to Bring Music
Have you ever been at the gym and seen someone there alone, and without headphones on? My first thought is always, How do they do it? This is quickly followed by the realization that, They must have forgotten their headphones at home! Poor things. Of course, this isn’t necessarily the case, but working out at the gym, especially when you’re working out solo, can be a real bore without music.
Working out to music helps to distract you from the momentary pain and discomfort, while you push yourself. This helps to boost how much effort you put in. Music also lifts your mood, and makes you want to move.
2. Working out on an Empty Stomach
Some experts say if you want to lose weight, then it’s best to work out first, and eat later. This makes sense in the early morning, right before breakfast, or even after work, before you chow down on dinner. It also makes sense with the exception of fruits, or a light snack.
However, we’ve all had days when we worked too hard, or slept way too much, and then went hours upon hours without eating and didn’t notice… until we hit the treadmill. On these days, working out without a meal is a bad idea. You get dizzy, feel nauseous, and lose both the energy and the will to get a good workout in. You could also end up injuring yourself.
3. Working out on a Full Stomach
At the same time, working out on a full stomach is just as bad, if not worse. It’s that last minute decision, after realising you haven’t eaten all day, but plan to visit the gym. Doing this can make you feel uneasy during the workout, and make ab-routines feel impossible.
Eating a large meal right before working out can also cause other problems like cramping in your midsection, indigestion, and even nausea. If working out on an empty stomach just isn’t working for you today, better to have a light snack or a nutritional shake.
4. Not Drinking Enough Water
As a rule, there are few places I go without my water bottle. So you can imagine the stupidity I should feel for deciding to leave my bottle behind so I could have my hands free, while running for 5 KM.
Not only do you begin to feel parched halfway through, but other effects of dehydration soon start to seep in, especially if you’re one of those people who sweat profusely. Some unsavory symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, headache, and disorientation.
5. Avoiding & Ignoring the Men
Everyone knows a lot of guys think the gym is a great place to pick up women. So to protect myself from any intrusion, I usually went out of my way to ensure I was not approachable at the gym. However, undeterred men would still come by to offer advice – great advice!
Fit men tend to know a lot more about the gym than us women, especially when it comes to weights. This isn’t always the case, but there’s definitely a lot of great advice you can pick up from listening to the guys at the gym, and allowing them to get a word in from time to time – even when it means going home with a bunch of business cards you’ll never use…
6. Trying to Read a Book/Watch a Video while Running
I once saw a guy almost fall off a treadmill while trying to watch a video. I also saw another guy drop his tablet, while trying the same thing. Neither of these things happened to me, but it was nonetheless an uncomfortable experience when I tried it.
If you much prefer to read a book while on the treadmill, then consider getting audio-books instead. It doesn’t get much better than that. Most gyms also have television sets, so if you must watch something, then focus on those.
7. Fighting with my Keys
I never knew what to do with my keys at the gym – or more accurately, I knew but could never be bothered. I never brought a lock to put my keys away, and always ended up lugging them around from machine to machine. Needless to say, one day I finally left them at the gym by accident, and was halfway home before I realized. Thankfully, they were still there when I returned.
Get a padlock to put your keys away in the locker, or attach them to your water bottle. Some people keep them in their pockets, but if you plan on running or jumping, the keys may dampen your workout.
If you’re not the designated driver, another way to eliminate keys, is to leave them in the car and take advantage of gyms that allow you to check in via an app on your phone, like Planet Fitness.
8. Not Wearing Comfortable Clothing
No pain no gain, was the old cliché my high school P.E. teacher tossed our way when we complained in class. It annoyed the hell out of us, but it’s true. Working out isn’t exactly a comfortable activity, and it’s not meant to be. For that reason, it’s important to dress appropriately. That means cool and flexible clothing, the right shoes, and a comfortable arm band for our phones.
Women also need to ensure they wear the right bra, especially if you are a C-cup or larger. Large breasts bounce a lot more, which can make running an unforgivably uncomfortable experience. It can also cause sagging, especially if you begin to lose weight. Make sure you find a bra which limits breast movement when you run or take on other strenuous exercise.
9. Not Stretching
My husband and I go to the gym together, but do not work out together. In fact, we are usually at opposite ends of the gym, because our workout goals and body types differ. However, on Fridays, we join forces to combine his upper body torture, with my lower body focus.
One particular Friday, he chose especially difficult upper body exercises, but I survived. In fact, I triumphed. Like an idiot, I did not stretch, and went home to eat, blog, watch TV, and go to sleep. I hated myself the next morning. My body was useless to me for four whole days.
The lesson? Remember to stretch, especially after completing exercises you have never done, or do not take on very often.
10. Avoiding Weights Because I’m a Woman
Contrary to what we often think, most women do not bulk up out of feminine proportion from doing weights at the gym. In fact, adding weights to your gym routine can help you tighten up, lose weight by boosting your metabolism, and increase your overall strength.
And if you’re a bit of a tomb boy, like I am, it will earn you the respect of your more masculine peers, who know only too well how much women hate weight training.
We’ve all made embarrassing mistakes at the gym that cost us our workout. What are some of yours?