10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Time at the Gym
Written by Kim McLaughlin
You’ve been coming into the gym for a few months and breaking a good sweat. You’ve learned some new things and you seem to be getting stronger and a little more gymnasty. It’s been fun but have you been getting the most out of every session? Even if you listen to the coaches and go through the motions, there’s more to CrossFit.
These ten simple things can make sure you’re getting the most out of every visit to Invictus.
- Set goals for yourself – Check out the workout ahead of time. It’s posted on the blog at 9:00 p.m. the night before so you can do some research. Think about the movements in the workout and strategize. Is this an opportunity to work on technique? Can you hit a new PR? What’s the work to rest ratio on part B? Know how you’re going to attack the workout so you’re prepared for it when you get there.
- Make new friends – Part of the fun of CrossFit is being able to share the suffering with others. Take a second to introduce yourself to a new person every class. We have a lot of amazing and interesting individuals in our community – so get to know them! It only takes a few seconds to introduce yourself to someone and it can make all the difference when you’re trying to get through those final few reps and you can look over and cheer on someone else. It takes your mind off what you’re doing and it provides that little bit of encouragement that we all need in the moments when we don’t think we can do it. Luckily we’re always getting new members so there’s almost always someone new to meet! Be the person that makes the group classes a little less intimidating for our new members and, you never know, you could have just met the best accountability partner you could ever ask for.
- Don’t worry about the music – There are wide variety of Pandora stations and everyone has their own preferences. Some days you get lucky and something you like is playing, while other days you’re just not as lucky. We can’t please everyone and you have to take the good with the bad. The coaches are often up for suggestions BUT just know that you can get the same workout results whether Katy Perry is playing or not. Find your motivation from within. Don’t worry about the music and just smile a bit when something you like is playing and focus on your movements and your breathing when it’s not.
- Focus on one thing to fix – Sometimes we think too much. Bryce’s blog post on Paralysis by Analysis talks a lot about this. When you have the opportunity to work on movements in the A portion of the workout, utilize that time to work on one thing each time. If we’re working on cleans don’t think “sweep the bar, full extension, shoulders behind the ears, fast elbows, beat the bar down, don’t let it crash, tight core, etc.” Pick one of those things for each thing and perfect that. The rest will come.
- Smile – Even if you’ve had a bad day and everything that could have possibly gone wrong has, smile! The hour or so that your spend in the gym should be the best hour of your day. You get to move around, lift heavy weights, hang out with friends, and be better than the day before. Not everyone has that same luxury; that should definitely make you smile. Let the gym be your “happy place.” Leave your problems and worries outside of the gym door. I promise they will be there when you leave and the opportunity to focus on something completely outside of those things for an hour can give you a new perspective.
- Don’t be afraid to fail – Try new things. If you’ve never been upside down, when handstand holds come up don’t always try to find the modification. Find a coach and ask them to help you try it. If the workout says “max rep back squat”, don’t rack the bar after the eighth rep because that’s probably “good enough.” Do rep nine and ten and eleven and go until you can’t get up again. We have the bumper plates for a reason. If you don’t feel comfortable ditching a weight get a coach to show you how. Live up to your potential and don’t be afraid to fail. We’re all learning and growing in the gym. Make sure you’re not stunting your own growth but deciding not to do something because it’s hard.
- Celebrate other’s success – PRs are the best! They serve as physical proof that you are getting better. You’re stronger, faster, or more coordinated than you were before. Think about the feeling you have when YOU get a PR and the community around you is just as happy about it as you are. Re-create that feeling for others. Celebrate other people’s personal victories and you’ll find that it adds to your gym experience.
- Arrive 10 minutes before and stay late – An hour is not a lot of time for the coaches to get in a great warm-up, everything that is on the agenda for the workout, as well as a cool down at the end. Come in a little early and address some mobility issues that are unique to you. If mobility isn’t your huge issue, use this time to work on skills that we don’t always get a lot of time with during classes. Do 100 double unders for time. Work on handstand holds or walks. Take this time to meet new people or catch up with old friends so you don’t have to do it when the coaches are talking. After class, take some time to cool down or discuss the workout with others. Be an active part of the community before, during and after class.
- Put your phone down – We spend a lot of time on our mobile devices checking email, text messages, social media, etc. For one hour of every day, put your phone down and be present. Don’t take your rest time to check your emails or phone messages. You’ll get more out of the workout, interact with more people, and a phone free hour will go a long way toward making your gym time the best hour of your day.
- Take it outside the gym – Sometimes we work so hard on our fitness inside of the gym that we forget to enjoy the fruits of our hard work outside of the gym. Find some gym buddies and go for a hike or play a game of basketball. Go to the beach and start a boogie boarding club. Have some spare time with your kids while you’re waiting for an appointment or for a big brother or sister to finish up something? Instead of letting them play on a mobile device, challenge your kids to a push up contest or get them to play with handstands or hollow rocks. Take what you’ve been taught and have fun with it.