My 5 tips for success at the gym in 2018

… and I want workout partners, if you’re available.

It’s the time of year when our health club is overrun by New Year’s “resolutionists.” While we established “regulars” welcome them as new friends, we know much of our effort to encourage them in an early-morning exercise routine is fruitless. Most newbies don’t make the cut. They oversleep, blow their diet, miss a day due to cold or rainy weather, and fall off the health club bandwagon in time to enjoy chocolates and champagne on Valentine’s Day.

Usually, we’re OK with that. Resolutionists infuse their cash into our ever-improving health club and then don’t make use of their investment while we do. We get back our favorite parking spaces or lockers that have been occupied with strangers’ cars and belongings, again find empty lanes available in the pool or wait fewer minutes for a shower in the locker room. Good riddance, New Year’s resolutionists.

But this year, I need some new workout partners. Apparently, I’ve run off a few of them this past year. These are the “job” openings, in case you’re interested:

early-morning walkers

  • Required qualifications: available at 5:45 a.m. to walk for an hour at 4 to 4.5 mph, willingly burst into occasional short jogs, and offer helpful, pleasant conversation along the way
  • Preferred qualifications: registered nurse credentials with a special focus on diabetic education or professional human resources credentials along with a willingness to provide advice
  • Ultimate qualifications: Answers to Theresa or Jenna. (I have last names in mind, too, just in case you’re wondering.)

an all-around fitness partner

  • Required qualifications: willing to lift weights, do various calisthenics on a whim, and participate in an aqua HIIT class
  • Preferred qualifications: certification and ability to teach said aqua class; a willingness to pray, offer biblical insight, and occasionally meet for smoothie speed walks during lunch breaks at work
  • Ultimate qualification: Answers to Kaylen.

Ironically, less than a year and a half ago, I had one workout partner, Connie, for whom you’ve been praying if you’ve followed my blog at all. Connie and I became friends in a step aerobics class years ago, and we’ve since done aqua Zumba, free weights, powerline weights, walking, and the aqua HIIT class. (We’ve even done the occasional baby shower, bagel breakfast, and lunch. She complains that I don’t do bagels often enough.)

When the pool closed in the fall of 2016 for repairs, Kaylen, our swim class instructor, started joining Connie and me on the powerline (weights with added exercises in between). When Connie went through her first surgery (for breast cancer last year), Jenna joined me on my morning walk so I wouldn’t have to walk alone. Speedy Theresa joined us a short time later.

A rolling stone may gather no moss, but people happily exercising gather workout partners. Apparently. This past year, the Connie-Sara-Kaylen powerline group grew to include Emily, Tami, Kathy, Jeremy, Lucy, and a couple others. At one point we had nine people in our group. (We only broke one person, and he wanted to come back to join us despite that.) We range in age from the early 30s to the upper 60s, encompass males and females, fit and less fit, small and large. We challenge and inspire and just plain make each other laugh. It’s enough to make you want to go to the gym regularly.

But despite the growth of our group, some people have had the audacity to change jobs (and schedules), to move to other states, and to get married and fall off the face of the planet, which is why I am advertising for workout partners.

Perhaps you’re not leaping at the chance to work out with me? But if you are a New Year’s resolutionist or simply want to succeed at gym life, let me offer you five tidbits of advice:

Make friends.

Even Grumpy can manage a smile or a friendly wave. You’ll be amazed at how small the world really is when you start seeing those gym friends in your other walks of life. You want to know you left a positive impression, even if you’ve seen them in spandex or their underwear. Make acquaintances and make friends at the gym. Friends are the “spoonful of sugar that make the medicine [of exercise] go down.” If you make a friend at the gym, you don’t have to make your unwilling friends go to the gym. Win and win.

Be accountable.

Work out with partners or plan to see someone at the gym. Pretend to take attendance — but really take notice when someone is missing. Exchange phone numbers so you can alert someone  when you absolutely can’t make it (such as when hell or Florida freezes over, as the state’s doing today). That little “I missed you at the gym today” text can make the difference between gym success or failure.

Like what you do.

Don’t “do what you like,” because that might mean sleeping rather than exercising or sitting in the hot tub reading a book (yes, I saw you there this morning). You’re at the gym before the sun has risen; make it worthy. Granted, if you like certain forms of exercise, you can do what you like. But also try something new, something difficult. Perhaps take a class. Mix up your routines (weights, spinning, walking, swimming, stretching, etc.). Generate some muscle confusion. Work hard. Sweat. And like it.

Get organized.

The easier it is to make exercise a part of your day, the more likely it is that you’ll do it. So get organized. I’m a believer in streamlining the processes that make going to the gym easy. If you’ll be showering and dressing at the gym on your way to work, then check out these tips for packing efficiency.

Make it a habit.

Create routines that make gym visits convenient and habitual. I recommend going every work day on your way to or from work, if you can. (Personally, I only want to shower once a day, so I do the gym on the way to work. It’s fortunate that my gym is literally on my way to work, and I get to miss the dicey bits of traffic by hitting that part of the road early. Instead of the 15-20 minutes total driving time — to the gym and then to work — I’d experience congestion that would make the route at least 45 minutes if I slept longer, skipped the gym, and left for work from home. Now that’s an incentive to exercise! Build muscle, not frustration. Great motto.)

If you plan to work out early, plan to go to bed early. Habitually. Before I go to bed each night, my car is packed with my gym bag of toiletries and my clothes for work. When my alarm sounds at 4 a.m., I do some quick stretches, then I’m on autopilot, completing routines that include everything from drinking coffee and packing lunch to kissing my husband goodbye (which, of course, is the best part of the routine).

And I willingly get organized so I can make those routines habits because I like what I do at the gym — and I have friends who hold me accountable and make working out more fun. Five things — make friends, be accountable, like what you do, get organized, and make habits — can help you find success at your local gym.

(If your local gym is also my local gym and you fit the criteria in my “workout partners wanted” section, reach out to me.)

The only downside to following my tips for success is that friends sometimes leave. And right now I don’t have much advice to deal with that — except maybe to advertise open positions for workout partners and welcome new friends. I’ll see how that goes.

7 responses to “My 5 tips for success at the gym in 2018”

  1. Claire S. Manger Avatar
    Claire S. Manger

    I’m exhausted reading your blog…At 4:45 a.m. I’m sleeping soundly –nice to get up at 9:00 a.m. Go swimming 3 times a week at 9:30!!! Happy New Year! Guess another year without Christmas/Happy New Year message. I still have picture of your family up from 2015:) Need an update!!! How is Scott??? Your Mom??? I sent a card, but know she doesn’t know who??? That’s OK! Love & prayers, Aunt Claire


    1. Sara Avatar

      Glad you have a routine that works for you. Sorry about the Christmas letter. I’ll have to send you a personal update. Love you! Thanks for reading and commenting!


  2. Becoming His Tapestry Avatar

    Ahh yes… ‘habit’ that dreaded word, because it means I have to do it over and over again until it sticks… I dunno 🤷‍♂️

    Liked by 1 person

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