5 Tips to Stop Wasting Time at the Gym

Focus—plus smart planning—is all it takes to better use your gym session

Ever feel like you’re just wasting time at the gym? Well, chances are pretty good that you are. According to a recent British study, people who go to fitness centers spend up to 35 percent of their gym time not working out.

Harpers Fitness, a U.K.-based health and fitness facility, asked 1,000 gym members how they spent their time at the gym other than exercising. The survey found that the average gym-goer spent more time filling up their bag, talking to fellow exercisers, adjusting clothes and choosing music than working out. Fifty-five percent of gym-goers said they wasted time with their MP3 player while choosing music, 30 percent said they took up to 10 minutes to fix their headphones and a third of respondents admitted to pausing their workout to talk to their friends.

To make the best of your precious workout time, follow these five tips:

Work During Your Breaks
Sure, you need to recover after a hard set of reps or sprints on a treadmill, but that doesn’t mean you should be doing nothing. Utilize those breaks by stretching the muscles you’re working or focusing on smaller, less intense movements like standing crunches or calf raises. You’ll be amazed by how much progress you can make during those ten or fifteen minutes you usually reserve for pacing across the gym or plopping down on a mat.

Make a Goal and Commit to It
Trying to get more toned? Want to improve your mile time? Then set a specific goal and stick to it. Before heading to the gym, write down what you want to accomplish and have a plan of attack by creating a list of exercises that will help you reach your goal. Include the number of reps, sets and weight you’ll be using, so that you’ll spend less time thinking about what you want to do and more time actually doing it. Soon enough, you’ll be seeing results and making new, more challenging fitness goals.

Organize That Gym Bag
Once you get to the gym, you should be able to immediately start your workout. If your gym bag is completely disorganized, you’re setting yourself up for disaster by starting your workout with disorder. And who really wants to spend time searching for a water bottle that’s hidden buried beneath yesterday's sweaty clothes? By making sure all the essentials—towel, headband, earbuds, etc.—are where they need to be, you’ll cut down on unnecessary time spent in the locker room. If you know you’re the messy type, get a bag with compartments and designate each pocket for a specific item, so you won’t have to go on a treasure hunt to find them.

Leave the Phone at Home
Going without your phone for a full hour may seem like something out of a horror movie, but trust us, you can do it. Unless you’re expecting a serious phone call, there’s no need to have your cell accompany you on the treadmill. The temptation to check your email, text friends or tweet about how you just broke your record mile time is way too great to resist. Save the socializing for afterwards and focus on the present moment by putting your all into your workout. Your phone will still be there when you get home.

Ask For Help
Want to test out that new machine? Great, but you’re going to need to know how to use it properly first. Don’t waste your time by fiddling around with equipment that’s foreign to you. Ask a trainer or other gym-goer for help. You’ll avoid getting confused and frustrated and prevent injuries caused by doing an exercise incorrectly. And if you really want to ensure you make the most of your time, consider taking advantage of your gym’s free training consultation (many have them), so that you can learn the right moves instead of spending 20 minutes trying to figure them out for yourself. Your workout just got a lot more efficient.

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