By Christina LaGrega
Photo by Erin & Erica

Mistake #1: You Pick Quantity Over Quality

If showing up is half the battle, staying focused is the other. How many times have you passed a treadmill, weight bench or group fitness class and seen someone looking at their phone? Even though they may have been working out for hours, the quality of their effort has mostly likely been impacted. 

The result:

Time wasted and potential injury. To benefit from the work you’re putting in, focus on form, technique and maximizing your time, say, by alternating muscle groups to replace recovery rest.


Mistake #2: You Forget That Change Is Good

It’s tempting to stay in the comfort zone of your favorite yoga flow, 3-mile run or weight routine. But without the challenge of variation, you will hit a plateau in your progress—and perhaps lose motivation. Give some thought to your weaknesses and what you would like to improve. Can you add hills to your run? Try a different instructor for yoga flow? Challenge your body to work hard each and every time and it will continue to respond to your efforts.

Also see: 

Mistake #3: You Pick the Wrong Buddy

The right workout partner can motivate you. The wrong one can turn your calorie-torching power walk into a casual stroll for catching up on The Bachelor.


Mistake #4: You Worry About Your Performance

This isn’t your time to shine, it’s your time to sweat. And yet we still let ourselves get self-conscious about appearances: thinking we’re pedaling too slowly while Spinning, forgetting the moves in step class or looking utterly confused setting up a weight machine. A far better use of your time is positive self-talk, which research shows can actually help you work out longer. 

If you catch yourself in a negative mindset, wondering,

“Will I look silly in this class?”

flip the script on that question by swapping the first two words and making an affirmation: 

“I will show up and try my best.”

Instead of “Will I look awful in these shorts?” say “I will get dressed and be comfortable in my own skin.” Talking the talk can change everything.

Mistake #5: You View Exercise as a Chore

“I have to go work out today.” We talk about healthy activity like it’s a dreaded task, but it’s not at all like taking out the trash. Drum up some enthusiasm by looking at exercise as something you get to do. There are many people who may not have the opportunity or ability to find their healthier life path, because they’re physically unable to. Embrace this gift and treat it well.

Mistake #6: You Underestimate Your Own Strength 

If you’re exercising with weights, stop cheating yourself. The average weight of a large filled reusable grocery bag is 38 pounds. If you can carry one in each hand, why are you choosing 10-pound dumbbells for your workouts? If picking up the average 4-year-old means lifting 40 pounds, why are you dead-lifting a 20-pound barbell? Our mind quits before our body does, so you shouldn’t listen when it says that you can’t push harder. Each week, try a weight that is about 10% heavier than the previous one. You just might impress yourself.

Mistake #7: You Move Like a Robot

Your body is designed to do a lot more than go forward-backward-left-right. Think about walking on a crowded street: You shift diagonally and step down off curbs. Moving around all planes of motion and engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously creates a more functional body. But when you consistently choose exercises such as stationary-bike riding, treadmill running or even some strength-based fitness classes, you’re limiting yourself. Zumba, boxing, boot camp and TRX are all examples of classes that encourage multidirectional functional movement patterns (which come in handy when you’re slamming the car door closed with one foot while carrying several shopping bags to the house in a single trip).

Meet Our Expert

Christina LaGrega is a mom of four and a 5 Star ELI Group Fitness Instructor and Spartan Strong Master Trainer for Life Time athletic clubs.