For many people, going to the gym is a daunting task. This could be because it is commonly associated with hard work, time, and effort. However, I propose the idea that the gym doesn't have to be a chore, and that it is possible to have fun while working out. Now, the first step in improving your relationship with exercise is to reframe your perspective. To start, read the following Do's and Don't's of actually enjoying the gym, and thenget after it.

DON'T go to the gym hungry

Alex Kaplan

Sometimes, you might try to cram in a quick gym session in the middle of your day. Although, for time's sake, this could be very helpful, it probably means you didn't have the chance to eat before your workout. I am not suggesting that you eat directly before a workout; however, I do believe that it is important to not go to the gym with an empty stomach.

Without food in your system from the past hour or two, your energy levels will be significantly lower, and there is no way you'll have the energy for a great workout. Additionally, working out on an empty stomach could lead to overeating afterward. A small snack before the gym to stabilize your energy can help you feel better during your workout and prevent overindulgence after.

DO feed yourself after

I know this one sounds basic, but if you need a little motivation to work out, the idea of an awesome meal afterward will surely keep you going. We're all humans, and we all like food. As I said before, I think it is important to eat something light before the gym, but it is even more important to fuel your body after. The type of fuel you need varies with different types of workouts. Chemically, it makes sense that your body needs to replenish its nutrients after a tough workout, but I am coming from the mental standpoint. I believe that looking forward to a meal after working out is a simple way to keep yourself motivated and keep your morale high. 

DON'T do the same thing every time 

Alex Kaplan

I often see people at the gym doing cardio the entire time or stagnantly lifting weights for hours. This type of regiment gets boring and monotonous so quickly. If this is you, it could really be hurting your gym mojo. Doing the same thing the entire time at the gym will not only stop making physical differences in your body, as you will become so used to it, but also make you resent going to the gym.

For example, cleaning the dishes is the same every time you do ituneventful and tedious. This is why cleaning dishes is a chore. Therefore, if you associate the gym with the exact same routine as you always do, it feels like a chore. Working out becomes a part of your day that you have to do, but never want to. However, if you change it up, the gym doesn't have to be a chore, it can be exciting. 

DO mix it up

Alex Kaplan

If you ever see a girl dancing at the gym, it's probably me. I used to hate exercising at the gym until I realized it didn't have to be boring. Sometimes, running and lifting weights feels right, other times, biking and yoga calls me, and every so often, literally dancing on the gym floor feels like the only thing that makes sense that day. My point is, moving your body in any way that feels good is enough. If you mix up what you do at the gym, you will find so much more enjoyment and freedom in it. When you stop confining yourself to the rules of what you must accomplish in your workout, it stops feeling like a chore. 

DON'T force yourself to go 

"I don't want to go to the gym but I really should," "I feel tired and don't want to work out, but I need to burn off the cake I ate from yesterday," "I am so busy today but I have to make time for the gym because I'll feel guilty for taking a day off." Do thoughts like these sound familiar?

I used to always let these thoughts win, and it would drive me crazy. Eventually, I realized that I viewed the gym in such a negative light because of these thoughts. Additionally, on the days that I did force myself to go, I would have a terrible time, and this negative attitude would stay with me into the following days. Now, I am more aware of these thoughts that enter my brain and can rationalize that they have no power over me. I believe exercising because you feel like you should or in hopes of directly burning off the calories from a meal will never be beneficial to your mental health.

DO use the gym as a mental break

Alex Kaplan

So, the question now is: what if I never want to go to the gym? This is a valid concern, but I believe it can be resolved with a perspective change. I propose that we all start to view exercise as a mental break in our days. As humans, and students specifically, we keep going until we are totally burnt out. We are consistently stressed and overwhelmed. Thus, if you view the gym as a half-hour or hour where you can just disconnect from the world, it might appeal to you a lot more.

I use the gym as a mental break by focusing on the music I am listening to and the adrenaline that I feel while moving my body. I suggest turning your phone off and setting aside time to exercise. Use this time as a break from all the stresses of your life. After the work is done, the adrenaline you have produced will relieve your anxiety and give you the energy to have a positive perspective for the rest of the day.

Ultimately, I am not suggesting that everyone reading this article become a gym junkie. Rather, I am proposing that if you think that you want to start working out, but it has always felt like a chore to you, then these tips could be really helpful. With new suggestions on how to eat before and after a workout, how to mix it up to keep it from getting boring, and how to view it in a positive light, you actually CAN enjoy the gym!