How To Work Out In A Crowded Gym, Because Every January Is A Freaking Nightmare
It is officially January, which means you can catch me avoiding the gym like the damn plague. With New Year's resolutions in full swing and motivation at an all-time high, you can expect to spend at least 15 minutes looking for parking at the gym, and your favorite cardio machine is probably unavailable until further notice. If you're going to brave the January workout crowds like a true warrior, and you're wondering how to work out in a crowded gym, there are definitely ways to continue getting your sweat on without completely losing your sh*t.
While New Year's resolutions are a great way to zone in on all of your goals and amp up your motivation, if you don't make fitness and movement a genuine part of your lifestyle, it'll be easy to fall of the wagon really quickly. Most people who make a fitness-related New Year's resolution throw in the towel by April (or even sooner). Until then, your beloved fitness center may look eerily similar to every Best Buy ever on Black Friday.
However, if you're not trying to wait until spring to return to the gym, it's really not that hard to squeeze in a quality sweat sesh in the midst of all the crowds. The next time your gym is packed AF, try using these five tips to help you navigate the sea of sweaty fitness fanatics.
1. Sign Up For Cardio Machines ASAP
There's literally nothing worse than when you have a killer cardio workout planned, and you strut into the gym ready to slay all of your goals, only to realize that every damn machine is taken. Just rip my heart out, why don't you?
There's no need to be a drama queen like me, though. During the busiest gym hours, make sure you sign up for your desired cardio machine immediately upon arrival. Most gyms have a 30-minute cardio equipment rule, especially during high-volume hours, so you won't have to wait that long to hop on your favorite treadmill. Use that extra time beforehand to focus on things like stretching, warming up with some weights, or even a few ab moves.
2. Always Have A Backup Plan
If you have a workout routine that requires rotating through certain machines in a specific order, it can be super complicated and frustrating to follow it when the gym is crowded. Basically, you're low-key glancing over at your follow-up machine the whole time you're doing the first part of your workout, and the minute you look away, some dude has claimed it as his own. Pretty soon, you have no idea how to continue with your workout, and you might just get so stressed out that you call it quits for the day.
Even if you're someone who loves routine, it's so important to learn how to be flexible, and to remind yourself that, when all is said and done, it doesn't really matter what order you do your exercises in. Plus, in most gyms, there are usually multiple machines that work similar muscle groups, so coming up with a backup plan isn't really all that difficult. Take a deep breath, be open to change, and remember that movement of any kind is always better than nothing.
3. Figure Out Your Gym's Busiest Hours
Figuring out the times when your gym is the busiest can make a world of difference when it comes to enjoying an efficient sweat sesh. While it may seem like your fitness center is constantly swarming with crowds in January, there are definitely specific times when it's busier, and knowing what those hours are could help you work out in more peace.
Google really comes in clutch here, because believe it or not, you can actually type in the name of your gym and figure out how busy it is at certain times of the day. TBH, these are the things that remind me that there is still good in the world.
If you can't find your gym on Google, try asking the people at the front desk if they know when their busiest hours. They, of all people, definitely know the answer, and they're probably willing to share a laugh with you about how miserable it can be to deal with the crowds.
4. Start Exploring HIIT Workouts In Your Routine
High-intensity interval training is super effective for when you want a really quick, challenging, and effective workout that doesn't require much equipment.
The bodyweight movements and the no-bullsh*t approach make for a concise workout that's pretty much perfect for when you want to be in and out of the gym as quickly as possible.
Claim a corner of your gym, set up a mat, grab any weights or other equipment required, and get to it. You'll be sweating and satisfied in no time.
5. Embrace The Idea Of Stepping Outside Of Your Comfort Zone
At the end of the day, if you're going to stay devoted to going to the gym even when it's aggressively crowded, you're going to have to learn to be flexible and open-minded.
When the gym crowd isn't ideal, look at it as a great opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, rather than as an inconvenience. Experiment with new workout styles, hop on different machines that you're used to, and enjoy the process of finding new ways to challenge your physical fitness.
Make the best out of what you have, be mindful of time limits, and most importantly, be respectful toward others who are there for the same exact reason as you.