Even as a die-hard health nut I can get bored with the same old routines. One of the most common things I hear from people who want to be in shape and work out is that lacing up their shoes and heading to the gym is the hardest part of their exercise routine.
That statement could not be more true for most of us. It is our psychology and mindset that typically create the biggest road blocks to success. In fact, this is true for most of our goals in life isn’t it? If we can find a way to alter our perception of something causing us pain as opposed to pleasure, there’s nothing we can’t get done!
Now, if picturing yourself on a treadmill for 45 minutes straight or lifting weights doesn’t get you jazzed, or worse, makes you cringe, you’re probably not going to take the first step towards doing it. In fact, that’s an understatement…you won’t do it. You do things well when you’re excited about them and look forward to them being a part of your life.
One of the best ways to keep things interesting is to change up your approach. Take some different classes that teach you new ways of exercising and put you in more of a group environment. Group environments are also great for building your support networks. You will be meeting people with similar goals to your own, they can help hold you accountable and potentially give you some pointers you may not have known.
Here are a few of things I participate in that I have a blast at and genuinely look forward to doing:
Boot Camp – A fitness boot camp is a type of outdoor group exercise that mixes traditional calisthenic and body weight exercises with interval training and strength training. It will bear a slight resemblance to a military boot camp in that you will likely be pushed harder than you would normally push yourself. You can search on Google, Craigslist and in the newspaper to find fitness bootcamps being held in your area. No bootcamp where you are? Start one! There are a ton of online tools that can help you learn the exercises you need to craft your own routine. Click here for a good resource. It sounds intimidating, but it’s actually a ton of fun! Even if you’re in the early stages of your fitness transformation, there is usually someone you can keep pace with in your group.
Yoga – This is a system of both physical and mental practices. Yoga begins by working with the body on a structural level, helping to align the vertebrae, increase flexibility, and strengthen muscles and connective tissue. At the same time, internal organs are toned and rejuvenated; the epidermal, digestive, lymphatic, cardiovascular, and pulmonary systems are purified of toxins and waste matter; the nervous and endocrine systems are balanced and toned; and brain cells are nourished and stimulated. The end result is increased mental clarity, emotional stability, and a greater sense of overall well-being.
I want to preface my strong push for you to do this by sharing my first experience in a Yoga class. The one I attended was held in a room similar to that of a ballet studio: wood flooring and an entire wall of mirroring. The lights were turned down very low, beautifully serene ambient noise was provided by a soundtrack of asian-style music and we all began by sitting down on the mats for some breathing exercises. When you get rockin’ and rollin’ you’re told to try and contort your body into some seemingly impossible positions…AND control your breathing properly while doing so. On top of it all, I got to look at myself in a mirror the entire time and bare witness to how poorly I was replicating the Yoga moves. I felt discouraged, tired and very weak after my first session. However, I have a competitive attitude about nearly everything and stuck with it for a few follow-up sessions. Now I’m hooked! This exercise makes me feel so relaxed and at peace afterwards now. I’m glad I didn’t give up and you will be too. Yoga has the added benefit of being something that you can do anywhere you are. It is a great exercise for people who travel frequently or are too busy to take time out of their day to visit a gym.
Pilates – Pilates has become very popular in recent years. Although Pilates works the entire body, the primary focus is on the core muscles (abs, lower back, and stabilizing muscles). Pilates is very beneficial for strengthening muscles without shortening them or bulking up. In fact, dedicated Pilates practitioners are known for their long, lean look. Pilates is Yoga’s ass-kicking older brother. The goal of a Yoga session is to center yourself, strengthening your mind and your body equally. Pilates has a more concentrated focus on the body facet. This is my preferred means of exercise. If I am looking to unwind and relax I will do a session of Yoga. If I’m pumped up and ready to challenge my body, Pilates is my choice method. To put it more simply, Pilates is my a.m. workout and Yoga is my p.m. workout. If you’ve ever looked at a dancer and found yourself envying what you see…this is the workout for you!
I will stop at these 3 options so that you don’t get overwhelmed by what’s out there. Give them a whirl and see what you think! These are great starters because you don’t have to be a member of a gym or really buy any special equipment to get started on an exercise plan.
Try them out and share your experiences with me! As they say in Yoga….