Make it Count
Let’s talk about exercising with a purpose.
Your fitness and your time are both important, but they seem to be two things that don’t want to get along. Shorten your workout and you save time, but fitness takes a hit. Lose yourself in your workout and it’s the best lift of your life, but you missed two classes, a meeting, and dinner with your mom in the process. It seems like there’s really no way to win, right?
There is a way to win, people. Being intentional about the time you spend in the gym can ensure that you get the most of both, without compromising either. Efficiency and a focused workout can go hand in hand just fine.
How do you achieve this level of fitness zen? These small adjustments to your routine can get you there.
You leave class and realize that you have an hour and a half to squeeze in a workout and make it back to Lowder dressed to the nines in business professional. Your workout routine usually takes that whole hour and a half anyway, is it really worth feeling rushed? Do you go to the gym and cut out your usual leisure time in between sets, or do you skip the work out and go home instead?
To be honest, I used to be the type that would cut my losses and go home. I would think, Oh well, I’ll work out tomorrow. I like to take my time when I exercise, and rushing it just doesn’t seem worth it. There’s just something so satisfying about taking that one slow victory lap around the track after a tough work out after you’ve already done your cool down set.
You know your phone is blowing up the whole time you’re there, so why not skim through your notifications in between cardio and weights? Then you see that guy from your bio class who’s been giving you notes all semester, so you have to go say hey…and then probably catch up on small talk for ten minutes. Not to mention that good long stretch at the end of your victory lap, or should I say, twenty minutes of people watching. By the time you’re ready to leave, you’ve been at The Rec for two hours, only about half of which was actually spent exercising.
Come to The Rec with your playlist already prepared and notifications turned off. That alone can cut your gym-time down by nearly half. Consolidating this way will better allow you to squeeze in a workout between classes without compromising your exercise.
Exercising more efficiently helps negate the “I don’t have time to work out” excuse. If you’re anything like me, you probably have days when it’s really hard to talk yourself into going to the gym. One of my favorite excuses is that I’m too busy. It’s a lot harder to justify that when my workout takes only takes one hour versus two.
Being more intentional about your workout also means being more focused in your time at the gym. Walk in the door with a plan, including what machines or exercises you’re going to do and how much rest you’re going to take in between sets, circuits, machines, muscle groups, etc. When you don’t have to think about what machine to go to next, you free up room in your mind to pay closer attention to your exercise.
One way I’ve been able to improve my focus while working out is to think about what muscles I’m targeting when I do each exercise. For example, when I do a tricep dip, I visualize the way my muscles behave when I’m dipping down and when I’m pushing myself back up—the way they contract and release. Give this a try.
By focusing your attention on the intended muscles, you’re more likely to notice things like the moments of highest resistance and the quality of your form. When you’re aware of this, your body’s natural tendency will be to adjust accordingly. This will provide a safer workout and allow you to get the most out of each rep.
Is there anything you could change to be more efficient or improve your focus? What distracts you? What could you do to plan ahead of time? The next time you go to The Rec, pay attention to your gym habits. And don’t just try the things that worked for me! Your workout is unique to you. Don’t be afraid to change it up and try different things until you know what works best for you.
The practices mentioned in this article have definitely helped me be more intentional with my gym time. I’ve cut my workout down from an hour and a half to an hour without changing the amount of time spent actually exercising. And, for lack of a better measurement, I’ve consistently woken up sorer the day after a workout than I have in months.
But, like I said, don’t just take my word for it. Try it yourself! How do you make the most of your time at the Rec? Let us know in the comments below or on social media @AuburnCampusRec.
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Hadden B.