Maybe you’ve resolved to get back into shape. Or maybe you’re beginning to exercise for the first time. Either way, starting a regular workout regimen is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Of course, with any new initiative, it can be difficult, trying and even surprising.
After a long layoff — partly due to injury, partly due to a real affinity for my couch — I made a concerted effort to get back into shape. Along the way, I learned a few things and remembered even more — and not just how to perform a proper squat. I’m talking about those little surprises and unexpected occurrences that happen along the way.
So below: 11 mostly helpful things to know about starting to work out, from time-management struggles and constant hunger to hand sanitizer addiction.
Getting off the couch and out the door can be the hardest part of rekindling your relationship with exercise. Once you finally show up to the gym or hit the trail, you’re surrounded by people who haven’t spent the last year engrossed in “Friends” reruns. That’s OK — you’ve just made a very important step in the right direction.
Some gyms offer them, some don’t — and identifying your preferred gym based on towel availability is perfectly reasonable.
Laced-up sneakers: check. Favorite workout tee: check. Expertly curated playlist: check. Extra pair of clean underwear: uh oh. Remember to pack that gym bag properly if you’re heading straight to the office after your workout. Otherwise, you’ll be sprinting back home to shower and score some clean clothes before that morning meeting.
Touching all those community weights and sweaty cardio machines is enough to bring out your inner germaphobe. So expect to become acquainted with hand sanitizer. At the gym, in your bag, in your car …
Or maybe you’ll just start going later. But when all your friends are elbows-deep in migas and mimosas on weekend mornings, you’ll be otherwise occupied. And you’ll be OK with it.
And sometimes with a guy who’s just sitting there texting. Don’t be that guy, but do ask him if you can work in a couple sets while he’s distracted.
You used to be able to lounge around for a few days and feel perfectly fine. Now that you’re working out regularly, you’ll begin to get antsy on off days. Your body will crave activity, and you might even feel stiff and lethargic if you spend too much time away from the gym. Fortunately, there’s an easy remedy.
Burning calories is a beautiful thing, especially when it leads to an increase in metabolism. But it can also lead to a serious increase in hunger, as your body requires fuel. Ideally, said body — now a fit and well-oiled machine — will crave healthy food and not just burgers. Sweet, sweet burgers.
Gym gear won’t wash itself. Which is a real shame, because all those one-and-done shorts, shirts and socks mean you’ll be running through clean clothes faster than your laundry schedule can keep up.
If you can fit a workout into your morning routine, great — shower when you’re done, and go about your day. Otherwise, expect to shower twice a day. It’s tedious and time consuming, but there are worse things than being really clean.
Between work, meals, sleep, social engagements and other life obligations, your days can start to feel really short. Sure, you could probably shave an hour off your nightly three-hour Netflix binge to recoup that spell spent working out. But, hey, ample recovery time is important.