Secrets to Successful Workouts

By: Rick Andreoli

“Muffin tops are hot,” you try convincing yourself after seeing your reflection in the mirror one sad post-party morning. It doesn't work. Within seconds promises emerge: eat less, drink less—a lot less— and work out more. “Yes!” you think. “I'll be thin enough for The Black & Blue…” And then a hangover wave hits, you crawl back into bed, turn on Food Network and order pizza.

Many gay men aspire to have six pack abs, a chiseled chest and rock hard bum, but they're also self aware enough to realize that being healthy is the real goal. Sure, it keeps you looking good and oftentimes younger than our straight counterparts, but it also allows you to feel young, having more, and live more enjoyable lives.

And yet “Getting in shape is hard work,” acknowledges Toby Johnson, a trainer and co-owner of Easton Gym in Los Angeles. “If people aren’t enjoying it, getting the endorphin rush, or finding validation for their work, then it’s easy to fail.” This is true for both the blushing beginner and the experienced fitness freak who's looking to mix things up and improve his workout.

So here are some smart tips to help you make concrete, positive changes in your fitness life.

Joe Find the right space. Every city offers gyms at varying price ranges. Try some out. Experienced muscle studs may need a change venues  in order to re-energize themselves, while newbies who find a comfortable, encouraging space are less likely to quit.

Find a motivator. I want a hot body and good health, you think. Well, sorry kids, but if wanting something provided results we’d all look like True Blood's Joe Manganiello from his Muscle & Fitness shoot.

Hire a personal trainer to help you achieve goals. He or she will also charge you for a session if you flake, and that helps because money is a powerful motivator. However, if money is tight, "A workout partner is a great tool to keep you in the gym,” Johnson says.

Find attainable goals. Pick something reasonable, like working out 3 days a week, losing weight, or building muscle mass. “This is especially helpful if you’re just starting out,” Johnson says. “Once a goal is attained it’s easy to set more interesting goals and keep going.”

IStock_000001612675Small Find new interests. Go to classes or join groups that do physical activities outdoors: Group bicycling, sports leagues, yoga, beach volleyball and other fun activities happen in every city, and they often cost less than a gym membership. 

Find variety. Studies of post-pregnancy women have shown that they can quickly return to their healthy body weight if they vary up their workouts. The same concept applies to anyone. If you want to tone up or lean out introduce variety into your fitness life.

Find the right diet. Diet greatly impacts how you look, “But there are quality of life issues,” says Johnson. If a diet makes you miserable, you'll quit. If it's ineffective, you won't see the gains you're striving for. But the right balance can be pure magic. “Try a few diets until you find one that works and gives you a lifestyle you want to live.”

Find the time. “If you’re too tired to hit the gym at night, make the mornings work,” Johnson advises. “You can also go at lunch or find a gym that’s open until midnight. Even a half-hour workout is better than eating a cupcake.” 

But what if I fail? You may. And it’s not the end of the world. Like with diets, there is no “right” fitness resolution, so try multiple gyms, trainers, and classes until you create a plan that works for you.

The bottom line is to keep trying, stay positive, and work toward creating the healthy life you want.

Read more articles on behavioral transformation:
Foundations for Positive Change
Loving the Man in the Mirror
Building a Better Beast Through Behavioral Transformation