You're ready to go to the gym. You confidently step on the treadmill. You put in your earbuds and find a solid pump-up song. You begin to walk, then to run. Sweat drips down your face as you continue to push yourself through a grueling workout. After what feels like an exhausting eternity, you look down at the clock to see that you have been running for a whopping four minutes.

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Denise Uy

It can be hard to muster up the courage to put on your sneakers and work up a sweat when you know you’ll be facing the age-old battle against gym boredom. It can be even harder to make the trek to the gym alone—it’s daunting to strut in and navigate your way around dozens of sweaty bodies clamoring for the same pieces of equipment, or to find a spot to do your ab exercises without kicking someone in the face.

But, somehow, I still go to the gym every day. And I always go alone. I totally understand the fun of working out with friends. Throughout high school, I ran competitively and I worked out with my teammates every day. I loved the social experience, and running with friends made running in circles seem more bearable. I always planned to continue running track at the collegiate level until a long-term injury sidelined me at the end of my senior year. I spent three months stationary biking in my basement at home, and when I got to college in the fall, I continued my solo workouts in the athletic center.

About six months and tens of thousands of biked and ellipticaled miles later, I’m a strong advocate of the solo workout. Here’s why I get my gym fix alone, and why you can definitely do it, too:

1. It’s taught me the importance of self-motivation

Grace DeLucia

When it’s just you versus whatever machine seems most bearable that day, it takes some serious soul searching to power through. There’s no coach judging your performance or teammates to keep up with. But, the amount of accomplishment I feel when I power through an hour-long elliptical session knowing that I pushed myself through is unparalleled. The self-discipline I have learned through my workouts carries over to my studies, too—I find myself more able to push through a library power hour when I’ve already done a solid one in the gym.

2. It’s easy to find the time, and the right amount of time

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Rose Ferrao

Trying to coordinate with your friends can be a hassle. Everyone has different demanding college schedules that make finding a time for your whole gang to hit the gym super difficult and can make for an abbreviated workout. And, inevitably, people run late, so by the time everyone is ready to go you might only have a few minutes to squeeze in your daily exercise. Instead, if you just try to navigate your own schedule, you can carve out a solid chunk of time that is sufficient for all of your cardio and strength needs.

3. It’s a good time for self-reflection

Rebecca Block

When I buckle down for a long ride on the stationary bike, I know that I’m about to exert myself physically and mentally for a while. But, all this activity forces me to forget about my classes and assignments for a little while. My mind can race as fast as my legs and I can work through all my personal problems, from existential to microscopic. Keeping my body occupied forces me to think to myself about the state of my life and reflect on my choices without the influence of my friends.

4. It’s a solid time to catch up on your favorite music or TV show

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Denise Uy

When you’re working out with your friends, it can be tempting to chat or gossip while you workout. When you’re alone, you can plug in your headphones and tune out the world around you. Making a bomb workout playlist allows you to catch up on new tunes from your favorite artists and pumps you up so your workout flies by. Some cardio machines are conducive to watching TV—with a hectic college schedule, you can get your Netflix fix while you burn calories by multi-tasking in this productive way. If you really want to improve your entertainment experience, I recommend investing in a pair of wireless Bluetooth earbuds so you can avoid the awkward tangling of your headphone cord.

5. You can choose the workout that’s really right for you

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Shelby Cohron

Although it’s good to push yourself and get the most out of your workouts, it’s also equally important to listen to your body and take easy days to recover from illness and injury. It’s up to you to know when to grind and when to take it easy, or take a day away from the gym altogether. If you go to the gym with friends, it can be tempting to follow what they do without thinking about your current fitness level and your current physical and mental state. When you go to the gym alone, you can easily tailor your workout to suit what you should do that day. After all, working out is about getting your own body and mind in a better place—not your friends’. Take this time to do what you need, when you need it.

Just because I think you should go to the gym alone doesn’t mean that I think you should leave your friends out of the equation. Use them as motivation by sharing your personal fitness goals and encouraging each other to follow your own workout plans. But, above all, focus on yourself—you got this. 

Check out more articles about enhancing your gym experience:

- 17 Mistakes You're Making at the Gym

- How to Incorporate Gym Time into Your Schedule

- 5 Ways to Combat Unnecessary Intimidation at the Gym