Is yoga class just another excuse for you to catch up on your Z’s? Does a 20 minute run on the treadmill make you feel like you’re getting nowhere fast? Are you making your chiropractor rich by unknotting your knotted muscles from too many extreme workout DVDs? Though there are tons of ways to exercise (and you’ve probably already sampled quite a few), finding the right physical activity for you can be a bit of a search. But once you land on a workout that’s both beneficial and fun, you’ll realize that there’s more to working out than just keeping your heart rate up.
Leaving the gym dripping in sweat doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve had a good workout. You might be physically exhausted and feel like you’ve done your body some good by pushing it to its limits, but were you really excited about your workout going in and did you have fun doing it?
One of the biggest reasons exercise gets shuffled to the bottom of the to-do list is because we dread it. We know it’s necessary, but changing our clothes, assembling our gear and driving or biking to our exercise destination of choice becomes more work than workout.
One of the secrets to finding an activity that you love and want to stick with it is to take your expectations down a notch. You’re not going to be marathon ready in three weeks and you certainly won’t be giving your yoga teacher a run for his money in a month. Forget looking ahead to the end result and try to concentrate on the here and now.
Do what you love
How many times have you heard friends use the word “torture” to describe their exercise routines when in fact there should be nothing punishing about it. It’s that “no pain, no gain” mentality that causes people to think that in order to get the best physical and emotional results, time spent exercising is certainly cause for suffering. No wonder they dread their workouts. Like finding the right partner, the right job or the perfect dress, the way you exercise should also fit seamlessly into your life.
It can take a while to narrow down your likes and dislikes when it comes to how you want to exercise. Get started by making a list of activities you enjoy versus those you don’t and separate them into two columns. A pattern will quickly emerge showing you the requirements you need to get you out of your chair and moving. Do you like to exercise with a class? Work out at home to a DVD? Weight train, play team sports, or kayak? All these physical activities take place in different environments and are executed in different ways.
Try an exercise sampler
Picture opening the lid on a big box of chocolates (maybe not the best analogy for a fitness article!) and instead of assorted creams or caramels is an array of exercise choices. They’re all there for you to sample, so dive in, you never know which ones are to your taste until you take a bite.
Your local community centre is a good place to start. Check out the drop-in options and try a few classes. Never thought Bollywood Aerobics would be your style? Or a circuit class with intimidating weight machines would be something you would grow to love? You won’t know until you try. Dropping in gives you the freedom to pick and choose without committing to classes you might not like or paying a big fee to join a program up front.
If your community centre also features a swimming pool plus fitness classes or maybe even a running group, it might be more cost effective for you to buy a general pass for yourself. Why not spring for a family pass and make exercise another fun activity to do on a Saturday, just like going to a movie, but without the extra-buttered popcorn?
If you don’t want to do, teach!
The manager at my local ladies only gym dropped over 70 pounds in one year and her body is now bikini competition ready. How did she do it? She started teaching low impact, strength and circuit classes after she was off the clock. Did I mention she hates to exercise? She knew that the only way she was going to get the body she wanted was by teaching. It made her accountable to those of us who depend on her to put us through our paces, plus, she became a great motivator for her students and what they could achieve.
If you really love yoga, become a yogini. If you can’t find the right personal trainer, why not become one yourself? You don’t have to give up your day job; teaching classes are something you can easily do on the side and usually allow for a somewhat flexible schedule.
Build fun into your day
The process of changing into workout clothes, arranging for a sitter, driving to the gym and dreading your workout might just be enough for you to skip it. All of that takes preparation and energy but exercise can be effortless, too. You just have to remember two words – movement and spontaneity. Go to the park, the track at your local high school, grab your kids and a soccer ball or baseball and gloves and take over an empty diamond, skip rope, dust off your bicycles and ride around the neighbourhood – these are only a few spur of the moment activities that are easy, fun, and don’t take too much time out of your day. Remember, short bursts of energy still count as exercise!
Not all of us have the luxury to exercise wherever or whenever we want. Here’s a list of apps that you can use to work around your schedule and fit the particular exercise mood you’re in that day.
http://sworkit.com – This app gives you either a strength training or yoga workout depending on how much time you have. There are over 20 pre-built workouts or you can design your own, no equipment needed.
http://yogastudioapp.com/ – Download it to you phone, iPad, PC or Apple TV. Features 24 hours of ready-made HD video classes, over 280 poses with detailed descriptions, or make your own unlimited custom classes.
Moms into Fitness
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/moms-into-fitness/id521560888?mt=8 – whether you’re an expectant, new, or just a mom who wants to get into shape, this app might be right for you. It features free access to a fitness professional Lindsay Brin’s highly-rated programs. You can tap into exercises to do anywhere or any time you have a few spare minutes.