My gym has been missing me, according to the text message that they sent last week. Despite starting the year off well, and achieving my weight loss goal, illness for me, illness for the kids and a busy time at work have resulted in exercise not being made a priority. Not exercising has shown me (again!) how much it not only alters my body, but also my mood. I headed back to the gym yesterday morning and then on a walk with my family for a play at the park. Not only did I burn 1200 calories, but I felt fabulous! I definitely need to bottle that feeling for those days where I can’t be bothered going to the gym. This year has been an annus horribilus health wise, which means it is even more important to look after my body. If you have been in an exercise rut like me, here are five tips to get you back in to working out (and maybe even having some fun along the way).
1. Motivation and Inspiration
Pinterest is a fantastic place to find motivational quotes and pictures. You can even search for workout ideas that you can print out and take along to the gym with you. Starting a mood board with inspiring words or pictures, placed where you can see it regularly (your work desk. wardrobe or even on the fridge) might help steer you in the right direction. Preferably wearing your exercise gear!
It’s no secret that I love reading magazines – Mr Style Unearthed is a patient man who puts up with piles of the things all over the house. I find lots of inspiration, new workout ideas and healthy recipes in health and fitness magazines. Women’s Fitness is my current favourite – it’s great value and has some interesting and informative articles. It not only focuses on health, but also wellbeing and mental health. For me, exercise is as much about the inside as it is the outside. Women’s Health, Shape, and Weight Watchers are also great magazines to try.
2. Try something new
Shaking up your exercise routine can never be a bad thing. Over time, your body will get used to the exercises that you do, and will stop responding as well as it used to. There are only so many minutes you can run on the treadmill, or so many weight lifting repetitions you can do before you feel the need to mix it up a bit.
My main exercise routine consists of cardio and then weights at the gym. I try to change what I do each time so that I don’t get bored. Yesterday I used the elliptical on a random setting for 20 minutes, and then did weights. Today was a mix of all the cardio machines and then a different weights program. Going for a walk in the fresh air with a friend or my family (complete with dog) is another favourite activity, which has the added bonus of some Vitamin D and a chat.
This week I have also vowed to try something new – Barre3. This mix of ballet, Pilates and yoga is designed to strengthen your core, tone your muscles and centre your mind. I have always loved yoga and Pilates, and while my experience of ballet is of the jazz variety in 1993, I am looking forward to trying it. The only class near me is an hour’s drive away, but by searching Barre3 on YouTube I found lots of workouts posted by the creator that can be done at home using a lounge, counter top or table as a barre.
If that doesn’t like something you’d enjoy, but you still want to experiment with something new, search for at home work outs on YouTube, and you will find a lot of varied exercises to suit all fitness levels.
3. Pump up your playlist
I have written about this before, but for me, music can make or break a workout. If your playlist is feeling a little stale, listen to the radio for inspiration. You could also Google songs specifically for running/weight lifting/acrobatics and see what comes up, or check out apps like Spotify to see what is trending in their Top 100 songs. I love songs with a solid beat, and artists like Macklemore, Tinie Tempah and Snoop Dogg are some of my favourites. A bit of 90’s rap never hurt anybody, either!
I prefer to zone out when I am at the gym. It’s my ‘me time’, and if I don’t have to talk to anyone I am happy. A pair of decent ear phones won’t annoy the person on the machine next to you, and an arm band that holds you phone or MP3 player will make it easy for you to workout. Stuffing an iPhone down your top, or placing it in the machine’s tray only to catch your arm on the ear phone cord and fling it onto the treadmill does not make for a comfortable or relaxing workout (trust me, I’ve tried it).
4. Dress to impress (yourself)
Please excuse the sweaty, post-workout picture! I always feel like I exercise that little bit better when I’m wearing something ‘nice’, which is probably why Lorna Jane makes so much money from women who feel the same way. Workout gear does not have to be that expensive, but it does have to be comfortable. Tops that are too tight will irritate your skin, and shoes or socks that don’t fit properly will give you blisters. My top and 3/4 pants are from Cotton On Body, and were very reasonably priced. If you are going to splurge on something, consider spending on a good bra and some comfortable shoes. I’m in the market for some new trainers – the time has come to trade in my faithful Nikes. When the soles can bend in your hand, the tread starts to go, or the loops where you thread the laces break, it’s time for new shoes.
Stores like Big W and Target have a good range of exercise clothes and shoes, and many online retailers often have great sales. Consider buying trainers from an online overseas stockist, as it can often workout a lot more reasonable than Australian prices.
Proof that the workouts are working!
A heart rate monitor can also be a good investment, especially if you want an accurate measurement of the calories/kilojoules you have burnt during your workout. I also use it to push myself harder and make sure that I am exercising safely. I bought a cheap monitor from Aldi – it was rated as one of the top monitors by Choice and I have always been quite happy with it. It has a chest band which has recently been a pain as it does not always pick up my heart rate, so I will be investigating monitors that just feed a reading from the wrist. If you have any recommendations please let me know!
5. Make having fun a priority
Exercise can often feel like a chore, until you get there and start enjoying it. Obviously, it is a much more enjoyable pass time if you have fun while you’re doing it. Play at the park, even if you don’t have kids (stairs to climb, bars for chin ups, press ups or tricep dips, or just fireman poles to slide down and have a laugh); try an active pass time like rock climbing, stand up paddle boarding or kayaking; or play a sport with friends. I am starting six-a-side soccer in a couple of months with a group of girlfriends, and while I know I will be utterly hopeless I am looking forward to having a laugh (and possibly a wine afterwards). Perhaps you could join me and dare yourself to try something you’ve always wanted to, but have never been brave enough to do. When friends asked me to join the soccer team my first instinct was to say no, but in my year of changing things like my health and my wardrobe, I thought ‘Why not?’. After all… life is too short not to have fun.
What do you do to get yourself out of an exercise rut? Will you join me and try something new?