How to Learn to Love the Gym in Four Easy Steps—Even if You Hate Working Out

Success Behavior number three is “learn to love the process.”

Loving something helps you be more succesful at it. So if you love doing the stuff it takes to get healthier and more fit, you’ll stick with it and have more success.

But if you don’t yet love going to the gym, prepping food, and eating healthy, don’t worry because:

a) You’re in good company. Most people don’t.

and 

b) You can learn to love these things. 

Below are four steps to learning how to love going to thy gym, specifically. 

Step 1. Set yourself up for success

Will power isn’t infinite. 

It’s like sand in a jar. 

Using your will power is like pouring a little bit of your special will power sand out of your special will power jar.  

And once that sucker’s empty, it’s empty. 

Had a rough day at work? 

Got into a fight with your significant other? 

Found out your car needs an expensive repair? 

These are the things in life that make you want to punch a hole in the wall, kick the cat, and have an all-out adult-style temper tantrum.

It takes a lot of will power to tell yourself not to do those things. Your jar’s low (if not empty) after dealing with those things. 

Unless you’re one of those freaks who actually get recharged by working out (the goal is to get there! And if you’re already one of those people, I meant to say “lucky ones” instead of freaks), going to the gym takes will power too. 

The goal then is to minimize how much will power it takes to get to the gym. That way you’ll be successful even on your worst days. 

The trick is knowing what obstacles you have to overcome in order to get to the gym and removing as many of them ahead of time as possible.

Here’s a few ways to do that. 

Value your time

You hit snooze one too many times. 

You got held up at work dealing with someone else’s mess. 

Your kid got peanut butter stuck in his hair and you had to clean it out. 

Now you’re pressed for time and your gym is a twenty-minute drive—each way. 

You gonna go?

My advice: pick a gym that’s close to your house or work (where ever you are before you go to workout). 

Plus, an extra 10 minutes each way is almost three hours per month if you hit the gym twice and week and four hours per month if you go three times per week. 

I’d rather spend that time with my kids. 

Wouldn’t you rather spend it doing anything other than driving?

Your time is valuable: don’t put yourself in a position to choose between time an exercise.

Remove that obstacle by finding a gym nearby. 

Pick your workout time wisely

You know yourself better than anyone else. Is it realistic to wake up at 5AM three times a week? 

On the flipside, if you’ve had a terrible day at work, will you be able to make the decision to go to the gym once you leave your job? 

Or is taking an extended lunch to workout the best choice for you?

Whatever time you choose, make it consistent. It doesn’t have to be the same time every day—maybe it’s Monday morning, Wednesday evening, and Friday at lunch—but mark it in your calendar and do it the same way each week.

If your schedule doesn’t allow for that, plan it out week by week and stick to the plan.

Consistency makes it a habit and habits are harder to break than stuff you do every once in a while. 

Plan for before and after your workout

What needs to happen before your workout? What needs to happen after? Take care of that stuff ahead of time to make sure there’s nothing preventing you from getting your workout in. 

Do you need workout clothes? Set them out the night before. If you hit the gym after work, put your gym bag in the car the night before. 

Do you eat after or take a post-workout shake? Just like your gym clothes, have it ready to go so you can easily get to it after your workout.  

What else needs to be in line for you to be able to workout?

Kids’ lunches need to be made, dishes need to be done, need to get to bed at a certain time? 

Plan for success and make sure those things are taken care of so you don’t have a reason not to get your workout in. 

Having a gym nearby, picking a good time to workout, and planning for before and after your workout won’t directly make you love exercise, but they’ll put you in a position to not hate the idea of working out. Which is kind of important to learning to love it. 

2. Find an environment that aligns with your values

Read the gym’s mission statement

Having a mission statement and living a mission statement are two different things. Just because the words “integrity” and “respect” are written on the wall of the corporate office doesn’t mean the people in the company actually live those values. 

Even so, taking a peek at the gym’s mission statement will give you an idea of what the company is trying to do and, more importantly, what it’s trying to be. 

A good mission statement is one that will draw your interest or turn you off immediately. 

Say one of the gyms you’re thinking about joining has the mission of “get everybody as jacked as possible.” If you’re wanting to pack on muscle and get huge, you’ll check that gym out. 

At Courthouse, the gym I work at, our mission statement is “Everyone deserves to look and feel great. We make it simple and fun.”

There’s a clear difference there, and you can bet there’s a difference in the way those two gyms make you feel when you walk in. 

See what type of people the gym attracts

Think about gym whose goal is to “get everybody as jacked as possible.” I’d wager there’s a different crowd of people there than at the Courthouse, where our mission is to help everyone look and feel great. 

There’s nothing wrong with packing on muscle and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look and feel good. Neither crowd is better than the other. 

They’re just different, and you’ll connect better with one than the other.

Identifying with the people you see in the gym will make you more excited about going there and will help you feel welcomed when you are there, ultimately making you more likely to go and workout there. 

Note how the staff treats you (and each other)

If the gym’s employees aren’t happy to be there, that might be a sign something isn’t right with the business. 

Likewise, if they don’t acknowledge you when you walk in or out, or interact with you at all while you’re there, that tells you the business doesn’t value supporting its members (or that they aren’t doing a good job at it). 

A clean, welcoming, friendly environment makes you want to be there.  

Most importantly: how does being there make you feel?

Paying attention to the three previous points will help you realize how the gym makes you feel when you’re there. 

If it’s a good feeling, that’s a good sign. 

If it’s not, that’s a bad sign. 

The reason is simple: if you feel good when you’re there, you’ll want to be there. 

If you don’t you won’t. 

Find a place that makes you feel good and inspires you to want to be better. 

3. Make friends with the regulars (and the staff)

It’s always nice to see a friendly face.

After five or six visits to the gym you’ll notice who tends to be there at the same time as you. 

Make friends with those folks so the gym becomes a social event for you as well. 

This goes for members of the gym as well as staff. Be friendly with front desk personnel and the trainers. 

You don’t have to be best friends or spend time together outside of the gym, but getting on a first name basis is a good thing. 

Knowing people at the gym makes being there more enjoyable, more fun, and makes you look forward to being there, all for the purpose of increasing the likelihood you’ll go and stick with it. 

Plus, having a little social accountability is a good thing too. 

It’s nice to hear “where’ve you been?” after coming back from a vacation or taking a short hiatus. 

4. Treat yo self

Set a goal and an appropriate reward for yourself when you reach that goal. 

Then actually treat yourself to that reward once you hit the goal. 

This strategy allows you to use your brain’s reward hormone—dopamine—to your advantage. That’s because we’re hard wired to get a dopamine rush when we think about a future reward. 

For instance, think about your last vacation. 

Not the vacation itself—but the weeks leading up to it, and how excited you were about going.  

Setting a difficult but realistic goal for yourself allows you to dangle the carrot and take full advantage of your brain’s dopamine to motivate you to get to the gym.

That way, the gym actually becomes a treat, because it puts you one step closer to reaching your goal and treating yourself.

Completing 12 workouts in one month, for instance, is a pretty good goal. Not too tough, not too easy. 

Your reward might be a date with your special someone, a weekend getaway, or a new set of golf clubs. Whatever you choose, don’t go too crazy but make it something you’ll actually look forward to. 

It’s supposed to inspire you to get to the gym!

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