“Fitness When It’s Hard” Week: You got to the gym. And you have no mojo. What do you do?

Yes, this actually happened to me yesterday.

Got my gym bag together, organized my life appropriately so I would have time to work out, got to the gym, dressed in my gear, filled up my water bottle, sat on an exercise bike…and crashed. Total energy flameout.

This is exactly what I wanted to do yesterday...right after climbing onto an exercise bike for what I thought was going to be a cardio session. Had to regroup. Here's what happened next. (Image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
This is exactly what I wanted to do yesterday…right after climbing onto an exercise bike for what I thought was going to be a cardio session. Had to regroup. Here’s what happened next. (Image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Now what? My choices felt something like this: (a) give up, (b) give up, or (c) give up. All of a sudden, I was epically exhausted.

It’s the weather. It’s the time of year. It’s the “off-season,” for those of us who peak for sports in the summer or fall. Whatever it is, it’s a time of the year when our bodies can just scream “Downtime!”

That doesn’t mean we give up on fitness. Sometimes, it makes sense to power through and see if we get a second wind five or ten or fifteen minutes into a workout. Go at a moderate pace and see how you feel.

Another thing to do to push the mojo button is to up-level your routine: new music, or a new audiobook to listen to, or whatever gets you going. Just getting going is sometimes “the thing.”

When all else fails, I take a major detour and say, Okay. Cardio isn’t working for me right now. What else can I do in the gym today that will benefit me in the long run? And I look around and pick something to do that maybe I haven’t done in quite a while, but that I figure I can get through, even at a slow-to-moderate pace, today.

Yesterday, for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long, that was a circuit of weight training machines on the far side of the “cardio room” at my gym that houses the exercise bikes. I hadn’t ever darkened that particular doorstep at this particular gym. I like free weight way more than machines…but with my shoulder still working out the kinks from the October injury, machines suddenly made a whole lot of sense.

Here’s what exercise machines offer us: A very specific range of motion. The ability to work out one side of our body at a time so that if we have imbalances, we can pay attention to them while still getting in a good workout. (Example: Yesterday I could “test” my right arm instead of making it jump into an intense workout immediately.) A clear sense of how much resistance we’re using. Good visuals (machines are almost always marked with instructions and pictures demonstrating how to do each exercise safely).

Did I sweat up a storm? No. It was a low-key (verrrrrrrry low-key) day. But I showed up, and got in a strength workout. When you’re tired at the gym, mix it up and try something new. If that means wandering into a yoga class and promptly falling asleep, so be it. That’s where we are sometimes. But you’re there, and that is the most important thing. Because there will come a day when your mojo is back, and if you’re already at the gym because you make it a habit to be there no matter what, you’ll know what to do next.

Yesterday’s Every48 workout: A solid DAILY DOZEN from Fit by Nature in the morning; a moderate STRENGTH routine using the circuit training machines at the gym after work.

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