There are many reasons why we go to the gym. In fact, we at Life Leisure place a lot of importance on ‘Finding your Why’ so that you can understand and recognise more about your personal goals.
But it’s also important to think about what kind of gym goer you are, what you choose to do when you get there and whether it’s the best activity to meet your specific needs.
Take a look at our list below – do you fit into one of these categories or are you a mix of a few? All activity is good, but making activity choices that really align with your aims and personality will help ensure you get the best out of your commitment!
The endurance athlete
The endurance athlete is someone who is dedicated to a single fitness regime or class, with little deviation from your weekly habit. You’re passionate about your one specific chosen activity.
The great thing about having this kind of singular focus is that you know exactly what to expect out of each session and you can easily recognise how your body is improving as the weeks go on. You might notice that you are running quicker, swimming faster, lifting heavier weights, and/or taking less time to recover.
But sticking to the same routine can also come with problems.
The more you do something, the easier it becomes. So something that would have challenged you six months ago now feels relatively easy. And if you’re not challenging yourself or your body, you won’t be getting the full benefit out of your training.
If you regularly attend a class, you will notice that the instructor will change the music, introduce new routines and change the steps. This is designed to keep things fresh and interesting, and ensure you are getting the maximum workout. If you work out alone, try and do the same – stick with the activity you love but find simple ways to mix it up a little.
The endurance athlete is something that many of us aspire to due to their unwavering commitment, but if it’s been a while, perhaps it’s time to speak to a trainer and see if they can recommend any changes. It may be that there are some new and interesting machines you can try that will keep you enthused and excited.
The Team Player
Some people thrive off activities that involve others. And for good reason. Adding social interaction to your workout – whether it’s a team sport, aerobics class or running club – means you have a focus other than fitness which can be very motivating. Introducing a competitive element into the mix will give you an immediate emotional reward, and your friends will help encourage you when you are struggling.
While it may look impressive to do an ultra-marathon or swim a hundred lengths, it’s no use setting yourself the challenge if you prefer to interact with others. If you prefer social rather than solitary, use that to your advantage. Embrace activities that bring you joy and you will more than likely stick at them.
The danger here is that you may start to become dependent on others which could limit your options. If you can only attend when others are, you lose the flexibility awarded to other types of gym-goer. Don’t let this deter you from your favourite group activities. But perhaps consider setting yourself a target to hit the gym solo once or twice a month to build your confidence to work out alone and ensure you’re not too reliant on others.
The Adrenaline Junkie
For some it doesn’t matter what you do when you get to the gym, it’s all about working out and feeling good. Perhaps you get a buzz from diving into the pool or an adrenaline rush from attending a class you haven’t been to before?
While you don’t get to enjoy the same benefits of the endurance athlete, you do get the buzz, which keeps you returning week after week.
That buzz is created by endorphins, chemicals which are released through increasing your heart rate with cardiovascular exercise such as running, swimming or walking. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as your heart starts pumping and your breathing gets heavier, the endorphins will rush to reduce the brain’s perception of pain and give you a feel-good feeling in return.
The only danger here is that the lack of routine may result in reduced attendance when the novelty wears off. Again, this doesn’t mean you have to give up on variety. It is the spice of life after all. But you could try and introduce an adrenalin rush of a different nature. Perhaps a buzz from setting and achieving a specific short-term target linked to you (e.g. resting heart rate, weight) or to the current activity you are enjoying (e.g. x lengths of the pool in x minutes).
It may be that you are purely looking at gym going as a means to an end. A way to ensure you are doing what’s required to stay healthy. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
The Government recommends adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week – such as brisk walking, water aerobics or riding a bike – or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity such as running, swimming or aerobics. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are hitting your targets.
Anything that gets the heart beating faster and makes your breathing shallower will be doing you good, so whether you stick to a routine or mix it up, your heart, lungs and muscles will benefit.
Remember though, even if you start of purely wanting to ‘cover the essentials’ – that doesn’t mean it has to be a chore. So perhaps you might want to try a few different ‘fitness hats’ on to see what feels right. And if you aren’t sure where to start, chat to a member of the Life Leisure team who will be happy to help. They may even help buddy you up while you try things out.
And finally, it’s all about the timing!
Whatever activity you choose, the other thing to consider is when to go. And once again, don’t try and fight what works best for you. These days, timetables are designed to provide a range of options morning, noon, and night.
So just remember, whether you’re an early rising adrenaline junkie, a night owl endurance athlete or something in between, by attending your local leisure centre or taking part in any activity, you are smashing it – so keep it up!