Making it to the gym or a workout class is the first hurdle when it comes to keeping active and taking care of your body. The next step is actually feeling confident (or at least somewhat) when you're going about your routines. A lot of us have felt self-conscious or embarrassed at the gym or in a class, especially when we haven't worked out in a while or if it's the first time we're trying something.
It's okay to feel out of sorts, but there are some things you can do to make yourself feel more comfortable and to take care of your body during workouts. One trick that can help you stay motivated and confident? Focusing on your form rather than your surroundings, according to Plankk Studio instructor Zoe Rodriguez.
"During workouts, trying to stay motivated can be hard. The biggest thing I like to tell my clients is to focus on their form cues. This can be beneficial especially if you are in a crowded gym setting and feeling intimidated," Rodriguez says. "Just focus on what you went to the gym for, put some music on, and focus on those form cues. When it comes to body insecurities and working out, you have to remember that every single person has insecurities. Working out can help you feel more confident in realizing all the things your amazing body can do for you. I encourage everyone to find an outlet through some sort of physical activity, whether that's lifting weights or yoga."
Once you focus more on your form and less on what you think you look like at the gym, you might find yourself working out much better and more effectively. And after you start practicing that, there are some other tips for taking care of your body and showing it enough love during your workouts, which Rodriguez shares with us below.
Try This Workout for an Instant Feel-Good Effect
"I think that HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts have the most instant feel-good feeling on the body. These are typically quick and high-intensity workouts that will leave you sweaty and confidence-boosted in about 20 to 25 minutes," Rodriguez says.
Do This Before and After Your Workouts
For more energy, make sure you are fueling your body. "A few ways to start treating your body better is making sure to properly fuel before your workout. Having a solid meal about an hour to two hours before will set you up for a better workout and give you more energy," Rodriguez says. "During your workout, I would recommend having some BCAAs to drink. This will help aid in recovery and muscular endurance during your workout. And lastly, make sure to foam-roll after your workout. This will again aid in your recovery and leave you a lot less sore."
Listen to Your Body
"My favorite way to show love to my body is learning to listen to it, and this is also what I recommend to my clients. Every single person has a unique body, and each one is different. You can get better at this by journaling your exercise and eating habits and noting how you feel. I also recommend trying out different forms of exercise and see what feels best, such as weights, running, and yoga," she says.
Know Your Limits
Listening to your body will help you know when you're not trying hard enough or when you're pushing yourself too much. "A good rule of thumb for resistance training is that you want to make sure you are struggling the last two to three reps of every exercise while still keeping proper form," Rodriguez says. "You also want to make sure that if you are getting too sore (sore for more than 48 hours), then you need to take it easier on your body and reduce your weight sizes. You can also try to just stay more active during the day by walking more."
Stretch It Out
This will make your body feel better. "Some of my favorite stretches to make me feel better are the frogger stretch, hip circles, and even some body-weight glute bridges to get some stretch and extension in the hips," says Rodriguez. "For upper body, I love doing some simple shoulder circles and arm swings to open up the chest and neck."
Get Moving and Find Something You Love to Do
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"The best way to feel more comfortable with your body is really just to move it more and simply love it. Realize all the amazing things it helps you do each and every day. It moves oxygen in and out of your lungs, pumps blood all through your body, and is much stronger than we realize," Rodriguez says. "Find the form of exercise that makes you feel amazing, and don't stop until you find something you love. And lastly, have goals, but make them realistic. Never make unrealistic expectations for your body, but focus on taking small steps every day to improve your health and just move."
This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.