Updated: May 3
Having the motivation and willpower to get up and go to the gym is great, but once you’re there, it can still be hard to get your head in the game.
Putting on your athletic clothes, filling up your water bottle, and getting yourself to the gym is a great start, but finding the motivation to be mentally and physically present during your workouts once you are there is a whole other step to conquer.
Personally, I’ve struggled with this a lot. When I first started going to my university’s on-campus gym, I would have trouble focusing on my exercise goals. I remember getting so hyped in my dorm room while putting my hair up in a ponytail and changing into my cute Lululemon leggings and sports bra, but once I actually got to the gym, I found myself spending more time on my phone than on a machine and lacking the energy to actually get a good workout in.
Results from a survey done by MedicalDaily show that the average gym-goer spends more time filling their water bottle, chatting with exercise buddies, choosing music on their phone, and scrolling through social media rather than actually exercising.
This gym procrastination can actually be incredibly damaging to a person’s mental health. According to an article by TheHealthy, simply thinking about the things that you haven’t done may cause discomfort and anxiety. If you’re taking the time to get to the gym, but then pushing off the actual physical activity, it can be emotionally/mentally draining and discouraging. Repetitively taking part in this toxic routine could make you feel lazy and bad about yourself, which can lead to depression. This is the opposite reason why we go to the gym and exercise.
The good thing is, there is a way to fix this! If you’re someone who struggles with focusing once getting to the gym, I strongly suggest joining a fitness class.
Fitness classes are beneficial in so many ways. For one, they push you more than you would normally push yourself because you are being guided on what to do instead of going at your own pace. They also allow you to be social and surround yourself with people who have similar fitness goals, which can motivate you more. They allow room for improvement because you’re able to set new goals for yourself with each class. Most importantly, during a workout class, there are little to no distractions. Instructors keep you focused on the task at hand, and they won’t allow you to slack off (unless you genuinely need a break or cannot physically do one of the activities). You don’t have access to your phone during these types of classes, and you only get water/bathroom breaks.
There’s a reason people are so tired and sweaty when they walk out the doors of a fitness class, and I truly think it’s because they were able to focus on getting a good exercise, without the distractions of technology and their own self-doubt.
I read on RegyMenFitness’s website that fitness classes are good for a person’s mental health because “just feeling like you’re part of a team can increase your motivation. The feeling of teamwork also can push you to complete a difficult task even if you’re working by yourself.”
If you don’t already have a gym membership, or you aren’t a part of a university or other organizational gym, you may have to pay more to participate in these fitness classes. I promise though, it’s worth it. It’s a small price to pay in exchange for a guaranteed sweat, a strong sense of fun and community, and improved mental health.
There are many different categories of fitness classes to choose from. Some include yoga, Zumba, cycling, barre, Pilates, CrossFit, and more. I suggest picking a class based on your own personal interests and fitness goals or challenging yourself to something you’ve never done or thought of doing! You might end up loving it!
I am currently in a yoga and cycling class at my university’s gym and I have never felt more pushed and motivated while working out. My instructors for these classes are constantly using words of encouragement and driving us to be the best that we can be. The classes have provided me with new friendships, laughter, happiness, and an overall better workout.
Beaker Prince, a fitness class instructor, and my current yoga instructor at Ohio State believes the routine workout a fitness class provides for a person can positively impact their well-being. “I think it benefits participants to have that time, place, and commitment to show up to. It is very helpful to have feedback and safety instruction from a live or synchronous instructor,” Beaker says.
So, try out a fitness class…you won’t regret it!
By Emma Baugher