5 Gym Pitfalls to Avoid This Winter, According to a Philly Personal Trainer

Want to get the most out of your indoor workouts this winter? Take note.

As the weather begins to change, so do our workouts: Outdoor runs turn into miles plodding away on a treadmill indoors, and workouts on the Art Museum stairs turn into countless minutes on the Stepmill. But I’m here to tell you that taking your workouts indoors doesn’t have to deter you from making the most of your sweat sessions. The colder months are a great time to plan ahead, set goals and, most importantly, put yourself back together.

If the dropping temperatures have you taking your workouts indoors this season, take note of these five common gym pitfalls to avoid so that you keep killing it in the workout department — no matter the season.

1. Don’t choose an out-of-the-way gym.
If you have yet to sign up for a gym, the first things you’re going to want to ask yourself are: Is the gym on your walk or drive to work? Does getting to the gym easily flow into the business of your day? The gym-skipping excuses of “I just went straight home” or “I got home and then couldn’t get off of the couch” are all too common, but having the ability to take a gym bag with you to work and hit the gym on your way there, during your lunch break or on your way home invalidates those excuses. So choose your gym wisely. And note: Packing your gym bag the night before can also help. As dirty gym clothes come out, fresh ones for tomorrow go right in.

2. Don’t go in without a plan.
To get the most out of your gym time, you’re going to want to plan your workouts before you get to the gym. I’ve seen people show up without a plan — and you probably have, too: These people end up wandering around the gym wondering what to do, usually ducking out a short time later. Instead of wasting your time walking around stressing about what piece of gym equipment to hop on, treat your workout like your to-do list: Before you head to the gym, write down the exercises you plan to accomplish and cross them off as you complete each one. (If you need suggestions for workouts, you’ll find plenty here.)

Having a weekly, monthly and yearly workout plan will give you the ability to track your progress and arrange your workouts to fit the time of year. Whether I’m working with runners, golfers, or those looking to lose weight, the off-season routine looks much different than the in-season routine. For some, it’s much easier to get in a beneficial workout in the spring, summer, and fall when all the planning you need to do is to set your route for your run. It’s much harder in the winter months when you have to go to the gym and program design for yourself, but actively planning ahead makes it a whole lot easier.

3. Don’t be defeated by a packed gym.
Some people do Meatless Mondays. I do Mobility Mondays. I’ve found that gyms are the busiest on Mondays, with many people paying for the sins of the weekend. But instead of trying to build Rome every single Monday, stop thinking of Mondays as punishment, pull back and use Mondays to simply move better.

Here’s how: If the gym is packed, avoid the long machine waits by grabbing a foam roller and a few resistance bands and find some space to just move (you’ll find plenty of resistance band exercises here), setting yourself up to be successful in your workouts through the week. Postural corrections and working on any mobility issues you may have is a great way to start the week off right. Save high-intensity workouts for Thursday through Sunday when gyms are less crowded, and happy hours and tailgates tend to sabotage healthy-eating habits.

4. Don’t get too comfortable.
Let’s face it: We all like to do what we are good at. Currently, I have a marathon runner as a client who is in week two of six weeks off from running after completing the Baltimore Marathon. Taking this break is harder for him than any long run or workout I could put him through. What are we doing instead of running? Increasing mobility as well as lifting heavy to improve strength and power. This is not his comfort zone, but he will be a better runner because of it.

When it comes to your gym workouts, like this marathon runner, you should switch it up and get out of your comfort zone, whether that means trying new machines, using the Bosu ball for the very first time or finally, finally conquering your fear of Zumba in the group classes room. You too will be better off for it.

5. Don’t forget to pencil it in.
At the end of the day, the best workout is the one that you actually do. Workout routines often come to a screeching halt when the weather changes. After all, it’s much easier to go home and curl up on the couch on a cold night than head to the gym. That’s where the almighty iPhone calendar comes in. If I have an appointment in there, I wont miss it — your workouts should be no different. Set aside time in your schedule for your workout and treat it like an appointment that you wouldn’t miss. Whether you make that appointment with yourself, a coworker, or a trainer, don’t you dare cancel it. It will become part of your routine and your days will be more productive for it.

Pat Kempsey is the owner of Pat Kempsey Golf Fitness and Personal Training in Center City. He is a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the only Level 3 Titleist Performance Institute Fitness Professional in Philadelphia. You can contact him at pat@patkempsey.com

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