People hit the gym all year round to tighten up, bulk up, or just to build endurance, and develop healthy habits. Maybe 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 really shouldn’t.
1. Forgetting to Bring Music
Working out at the gym, especially when you’re working out solo, can be a real bore without music. Music helps to distract you from the momentary pain and discomfort, while you push yourself; and helps to boost how much effort you put in. Music also lifts your mood, and keeps you moving.
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.
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.
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 you must eat before working out, then have a light snack or a nutritional shake.
4. Not Drinking Enough Water
Staying hydrated is an essential part of working out. In fact, pushing through a workout without water can be dangerous. Not only do you begin to feel parched halfway through, but other effects of dehydration soon start to seep in.
This is especially true 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
Guys can be downright annoying at the gym. So to protect ourselves from the intrusion, a lot of women plug earphones in and turn the music up. We go out of our way to look as busy and as independent as possible — anything to deter them from approaching us. However, undeterred men often still come by to offer advice – great advice!
The fact is, 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 allowing them to get a word in from time to time.
6. Trying to Read a Book/Watch a Video
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 than listen to music, while on the treadmill, then consider getting audio-books instead. Most gyms also have television sets hoisted at a safe angle for you to see, so if you must watch something, 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 lock to put your keys away, or attach them to your water bottle. Some people keep them in their pockets, but if you plan on running or jumping, the keys can be a real inconvenience.
If you’re not the designated driver, another way to eliminate keys is to leave them in the car. 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 in high school. 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 armband 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
I almost never stretch after working out at the gym — and consequently hate myself in the morning, almost every time. These days I’m getting better, but there have still been many a-time, when I realize I haven’t stretched after leaving the gym, and heading home.
Stretching helps to alleviate pain in the days that follow. It also serves as a great cool down period, after running and lifting weights. The best advice I can give with stretching is that the worst time you want to forget to do it, is after working muscles you don’t focus on very often.
10. Skipping the Weights
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.
What are some of the embarrassing mistakes you’ve made at the gym?
About the Author
Alexis Chateau is the Founder of College Mate and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.