With the end of January closing in, many gym-going New Year’s resolutioners will stow away their neon gym shoes, delete their food-logging apps, and hang up their resistance bands in defeat. Regardless of what your get-healthy goals are for 2014, if you’re feeling a little jaded, intimidated, or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you at the gym, here are things to keep in mind before canceling your membership.

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1. You don’t have to run

You also don’t have to do yoga if you’re not interested in reuniting with your transcendental self. You don’t have to take spin classes if going to spin classes is tantamount to torture in your book. Not everyone is a runner or a yogi, and just because you don’t have any marathons or downward facing dogs in your future doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish your fitness goals. When you go into the gym, especially as a newbie, it’s easy to feel pigeonholed just looking around. You’ll see all the treadmill devotees, elliptical junkies, Stairmaster admirers, and you’ll feel oddly pressured to commit to one lifestyle, even if you hate it. There’s no one right way to get/stay healthy or lose weight — so don’t feel guilty for not listening to the treadmill’s siren calls.

2. Leave your insecurity in the locker room

When I was 120 pounds heavier than I am today, one of my biggest fears about losing weight was simply setting foot in the gym. I was apprehensive enough to believe all the super-fit people would collectively pause their up-tempo Rihanna covers and snicker behind my back while I drowned in my own sweat for 30 minutes on the elliptical. In hindsight, maybe a few of them did laugh at me when I thought I could keep up a 6.5 MPH pace on the treadmill, but it really doesn’t matter. Repeat this mantra the next time you feel the least bit insecure at the gym: I’m here with the best intentions to be healthy, and no matter what I’m physically able to accomplish, I showed up. Don’t let the potential for what someone could think hinder or halt your progress.

3. You don’t need special gear

Sure, the moisture-wicking is great, and a miscellaneous zippered pocket above your ass crack can really come in handy, but don’t think you have to spend a fortune to fit in at the gym. There’s no shame in wearing a baggy tee shirt from college and some elastic band pants with a stripe down the side to your workout (my go-to look, by the way). Trust me, you’re going to be sweaty and disgusting whether your tag says “Nike” or not. And, ladies, just the skip the make-up, OK? Your swinging ponytail pendulum as you jog is sure to capture the hearts and minds of countless gym bros.

4. Race the person next to you

Sometimes your “Eye of the Tiger” playlist won’t be enough to motivate you through the longest 15-minute stationary bike ride of your life. In these times of desperation, I like to pretend I’m racing the person next to me. Nothing gets the adrenaline pumping like totally schooling some middle-aged man or the Lululemon lady—whether they’re aware of it or not.

5. Be reasonable

Despite your best intentions, you won’t be able to get to the gym every time you want to go. One day you’ll be hungover; next month you’ll be on vacation indulging in some delicious escapism so satisfying that the dreaded kettle bells will cease to exist for a while. Don’t feel guilty for deviating from your exercise regimen, but don’t let life’s special occasions tempt you into an excuse-filled shame spiral into couch potatodom. Don’t use that bogus reasoning that because you already missed the gym two days, you may as well not go back to the gym until next week. Some days you’ll have to drag yourself to the gym, moping the whole way. Don’t let the rough days divert your attention from all the other days you felt like you really kicked ass when you worked out.

Originally published to ThoughtCatalog.

26 thoughts on “5 Things to Keep in Mind Before You Ditch the Gym This Year

  1. Oh you totally got me. My normal start back up with working out routine, is going strong for 5 days, miss one day, do 2 more days, miss 2 days, do 1 more day, forget working out for the next 6 months, and repeat. I’m right at the do 2 days section as we speak and I need to just push on through. My 40’s are calling next year and I won’t walk into it with this little tire that is dying to expand into a full blown stomach. I have to accept the challenge.

  2. I like this list, and I had no idea you had lost so much weight. Good going!

    I do like starting my exercise resolution in February though because it is less crowded 🙂

  3. Sorry, I do hate the aimless wanderers. That’s why January at the gym sucks, because you get a ton of new people in there who just kind of stand around with no apparent goal.

    And I’m all for everyone making an effort as minimal as it can be, but if your workout consists of walking for a half hour on the treadmill at 2 MPH while playing on your smartphone, I’mma judge you.

    1. In all honesty, I think judging the lack of ambition of the some the newbies is to be expected when you’re a gym veteran. I get some sick pleasure from watching someone try the elliptical for the first time.

  4. Nail on the head, as usual. I needed to read this today. The cycle of committing and then letting “special occasions” get in the way is something I was mid-way through doing.

    Also, nervousness going into a new gym! Amen!

    1. It’s a struggle for me to find the motivation to get and up a lot of the time, but I’d rather drag myself kicking and screaming than regret skipping a day.

      I joined a new gym recently and pressure was at an all-time high, because there were actually people my age there instead of just senior citizens.

  5. As a person who’s lost that much weight, you got serious street cred in my book. I’m terrible with blowing off one workout and then another and then it’s well, let’s start fresh on Monday for me. Well, then the Sunday before is a super bowl party and i’m too hungover on Monday so….cue fat guy on bicycle picture here. lol.

    1. It’s easy for it to get away from you, but I like to think of it as something that has to be part of my routine as much as going to work or anything else.

  6. I despise the gym for so many reasons, but the biggest is the fact that I’m scared of getting a vagina rash while I’m there. This is a legitimate concern. How do people with senseless fears get over themselves?!

    1. I’ve just unilaterally decided to embrace every potential germ and fungus at the gym. I haven’t contracted anything gross there yet, so I try not to stress about it too much.

  7. Nice one. I am one who has a hard time getting to the gym but actually enjoys working out once I’m there. What cracks me up the most are the women in the gym who get on the cardio machines and haven’t bothered to pull their long luxurious hair back or up. Seriously? I’ve had long hair and there’s no way I’d work out without having it at least up in a pony tail. Get over yourself.

    Oh and I’m looking forward to the fall off of resolutioners, less wait time for machines to open up.

    1. I completely agree on all accounts. My hot middle-aged spin instructor likes to leave her hair down until mid-way through class, and then she finally relents and puts it up. Get over yourself, lady. We all know you’re hot stuff, now put it up in a ponytail.

    1. You are one lucky lady! I wish we still had a treadmill at home. That’s the only way I’d ever train for a marathon–without the judgey eyes of other people on my back.

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