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Is Competition Legit Workout Motivation?

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We all know her: The Gyminator. She's fearless when it comes to just about any fitness competition, posts every healthy meal to her Insta feed, and is queen of the humble brag—especially when it comes to her workouts. And while this training tyrant can provide a mega-dose of motivation, she can also be a major turnoff, causing serious levels of self-doubt when it comes to our own routine. (Cough, How to Do Yoga Without Feeling Competitive In Class.)

With classes like Flywheel and Orangetheory appealing to workout warriors and fitness apps constantly prompting to "Share Your Activity," finding your comfort level among the competition chaos can be tough. But by channeling your own fierce fitness maven, you may find you're scoring awesome results no matter if you're racing your best friend or just the time on the treadmill.

First of all, comparing your performance to that of your gym bud or the results of another member of class can be super motivating (as long as you're not beating yourself up if your numbers aren't exactly on par!). And going head to head with someone makes you feel more accountable (hello, payoff!) Competition can breed camaraderie and can be a positive outlet to releasing stress that's built up during the day.

But once we get our first taste of competition, it can be totally addictive and easy to overdo it. This might lead to overuse injuries or high-level burnout, which can cause you to kiss those results goodbye. (Are you too competitive?) To ensure your competition remains healthy, find the right intensity that suits your fitness level. Friends, it's time to get real. The goal is to keep you invigorated, not exhausted. Start by comparing your own workouts before comparing yourself to others. It can be super encouraging to see your speed or strength increase week to week!

Now comes the fun part—figuring out what type of competition works for you! Disclaimer: This totally may take a little experimentation before finding the right fit. Think about what you find most motivating: Is it someone who looks amazing in her swimsuit? Your friend who lost twenty pounds on her own? Or your pal that finished in the top 10 in her last half marathon? Consider what kind of energy makes you thrive during your workouts: Do you like a drill sergeant vibe? Or are you more into subtle, positive encouragement? By making a list of all of these elements, you'll be able to match these qualities with the perfect trainer, group fitness class, or competitive companion.

These suggestions will help you up your competitive streak to mix up your workouts and to score amazing fitness gains.

You're a Pilates guru who wants to step up her cardio game: You've built awesome core strength and worked on the mobility of your joints. Set out in search of a Barre class to mix up your routine and get sweating while emphasizing similar muscles to your go-to Pilates sesh. Not enough of a burn for you? Studios like Soul Cycle offers awesome encouragement that echoes similar messaging to your Pilates and yoga classes, and is low-impact on your joints.

You're a solo runner who's getting really bored during her long-distance days: Winter running is hard enough! Find a local running group that has weekly long runs. Not only will you meet fellow cardio queens, pushing yourself to join a faster pace group can help you PR come race day. Studios like Mile High Run Club offer intimate class settings in case you're not one for large groups or an overnight snowstorm has got you down.

You're a CrossFit junkie whose ODed on her WODs: You're already a pro when it comes to killing it during your workout. Keep that energy going by hitting up a Flywheel class. You'll be able to track your success mid-spin—and see how you're doing compared to the rest of the class. Looking for a lower-intensity option? Try a dance class to blow off some steam and take the edge off—it'll make you that much more geared up come your next CrossFit fix.

You're a workout newbie who has a case of gym-timidation: Grab a gal pal! You guys can test out equipment together without feeling completely intimidated. If you have a friend who's already an expert, ask her to show you some of her favorite moves (protein shake is on you post-workout!) If you're more of a lone wolf, entering a new gym can be a lot. Pick one section at a time and ace the equipment. It's a great way to become well-versed in a ton of different moves and to finding exercises you enjoy the most. (It's just one of the reasons having a fitness buddy is the best thing ever.)

But even those methods can be way overwhelming to some. If you're new to exercise or just have a tendency to be on the shyer side, there are still plenty of options to keep the competitive spirit alive to help you hit your goals.

Take a photo: For those who have a big sport performance or weight loss goal, a picture is worth tons more than a thousand words. Track your progress week by week to see how your body evolves or your technique improves. The coolest part? You'll have a visual story compiled of all of your dedication to reaching your achievement.

Check in: Hold yourself accountable by setting intermittent checkpoints. From signing up for races increasing in distance before your first marathon or investing in seasonal dresses in decreasing sizes, a structured timeline leading to the big race day or weigh-in will reinforce your progress. You'll be more disciplined and you'll see the product of your training. Think about working with a fitness professional like a personal trainer or nutritionist to help you map out a safe and realistic road to success.

App it up: There are about a million and one apps that can help you track your progress. Shift your Facebook feed into a streaming fitness thread updated with every workout and daily wins. Not only will you be able to review where you first started, you'll also receive good vibes from your online friend base. Other apps like RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal provide options to compare your workouts, analyze your nutrition, and share your latest news with your friends via various social media platforms.

Ease into it: If you feel ready to start dipping your toe into the full fitness competition pool, finding a balance is key. Hit up a Flywheel class and opt out of using the TorqBoard, or think up a crazy-random name that no one will know it's you. By becoming friendly with the vibe of the class, you'll slowly begin to feel more comfortable sharing your (improving!) stats. (Psst... Try these 10 Motivational Quotes to Help You Crush Your Fitness Goals.)

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