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By Susie Yakowicz

For many people, going to the gym is the only way to ensure a satisfying workout. Gyms offer a variety of exercise options, flexibility that fits any schedule, and access to instructors and trainers. But what if you haven’t been to a fitness center for a long time – even years?

Have no fear. Heading back to the gym after a lengthy respite is easier than you think and may be the wisest move you make all year. The best part? All you need for success is a little know-how, some fresh energy, and a healthy desire to get fit. These eight tips can help…

Dress Smart

If you’re worried your gym wardrobe isn’t up-to-date, don’t be. Instead of trying to fit in with the fashion-conscious exercisers, dress comfortably for the activity you plan to do. For example, a loose t-shirt and gym shorts work well for a session on the treadmill or bike.

Focus on Yourself

Don’t be intimidated by the progress others seem to be making – you’ll get there eventually.

Chances are, contrary to what you might think, no one is going to know you haven’t been to the gym for a while. In fact, no one will be looking at you or notice the kind of workout you’re doing. Most gym goers focus on themselves and what they’re trying to achieve in the time allotted – so should you.

Ease Into Exercise

You don’t need to jump into a challenging workout on Day One! Give yourself time to re-acclimate to regular exercise by starting in your comfort zone. If you like to swim, do leisurely laps or join a beginner’s aquatics class. Build your confidence one step at a time.

Set Up a Contact

Not sure what types of exercise and equipment will benefit your fitness goals? Make an appointment to meet with a personal trainer, class instructor, or other staff member. Today’s fitness centers have plenty of support available; take advantage of that, and get connected.

Be Positive

Although uneasiness may be a natural reaction to going back to the gym after a long break, negative thinking won’t improve your gym experience. Try adopting a positive attitude about your effort to get fit. Optimism has many benefits, including the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Take a Supportive Friend

Having a pal to work out with can help inspire you to go to the gym. Not only that, a dependable exercise partner will keep you motivated to stick with a gym routine. You’ll also have someone to accompany you to a fitness class or to work alongside for encouragement and company.

Get Your Body Ready

Preparing your body for exercise is key to a healthy workout. Before heading to the gym, eat a light protein snack for energy, and hydrate to keep your muscles loose. Don’t forget to warm up with stretches or light aerobics. If you have medical issues, be sure to consult a healthcare professional before beginning an exercise regimen.

Pat Yourself on the Back

No matter how much you accomplish at the gym, give yourself credit for getting back there. It’s a good start to improving your health and fitness and a productive use of your time. Make a habit of celebrating your commitment to a daily workout at the fitness center; you deserve the kudos!

Still need a little pep talk? Here’s Martin from eHow with a few encouraging tips!

Get back to fitness and get back to the gym! With a little preparation, you can help make the return smooth, successful, and lasting.

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