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5 ways to quit beating yourself up at your workouts

negative self talk“Why is she sweatier than me? How did that girl get so toned? I can’t do as many push-ups as the chick next to me. This trainer probably thinks I’m not good enough.”

Sound familiar? If you’re someone whose head fills with negative thoughts during your sweat sesh, you’re not alone in that (fit) camp. Instead of feeling a sense of accomplishment—and fun—at having gotten themselves to a workout, often before or after a ridiculously long day, a lot of women say that awful self-defeating messages float to the surface, shares Rupa Mehta, the creator of Nalini Method, a mix of Iyengar yoga, Lotte Berk, and sculpt class.

So how can you stop and find some sanity? Mehta, who’s all about positive vibes and dishing out helpful advice just like this, has some guidance.

Here are Mehta’s top five tips for avoiding negative self-talk and cultivating a little more self-love during your next workout. Because, you know, that’s what you’re there for.

negative self talk 21. Get there early—or at least on time. We’ve all been there: you’re cutting it so close to class time that you’re pulling on your leggings as the door closes. But your sanity might depend on your punctuality.

“When you feel rushed, you’re looking around the room to catch up, and feeling harried. The first five minutes of class are actually important to help you feel in control, not behind,” Mehta says.

2. Try to assess if “the call is coming from inside the house” or from the something about the workout. If you’re feeling off or intimidated, “it could be that the class or the music is too fast, or you feel claustrophobic in the corner. It’s important to realize if there’s another energy impacting you,” says Mehta.

3. Bond with the instructor. Just like going to class with a friend can make it more fun, having a dialogue with your instructor makes you less likely to worry you’re over-extending yourself or not pushing hard enough, Mehta says. Ask them questions: “If you’re a beginner, ask the instructor what to expect in the first month. If you’ve been going for a while, ask how to go beyond the plateau,” she says. Most will see this as a way to support you in your next class, and beyond.

4. Consider whether the class is your cup of tea. “If you feel like you’re always criticizing yourself at spin class versus your barre workout, think about whether it’s a workout that’s just not for you,” Mehta says. Just because it’s New York City’s hottest studio doesn’t mean you have to love it.

5. Get inspired by those comparisons. “If in class you find yourself thinking about how toned your neighbor is, let those thoughts motivate you toward your own goals,” Mehta says. Maybe she’s a sign of what being a regular can do for you? “Comparing isn’t so bad; just don’t let it avalanche from noticing that your neighbor’s whipping through push-ups to seeing how big her engagement is, or thinking that’s probably why she’s married and you’re single,” she says. “Check yourself so it stays in that realm of keeping you inspired [on your fitness path]. Then it’s productive.” —Molly Gallagher

For more information on The Nalini Method, visit

(Photos: Grace Brown)