The new year’s resolution season is over, and while many people have long since forgotten their resolutions, thousands more are vowing to “get in shape” before bathing suit season is upon us. Ah summer, with those lazy days on the beach, and those suits that often reveal how well you ate or worked out over the winter. Thinking about it is enough to motivate many of us to work out…once or twice anyway until a chilly day hits and we think the days of summer are far enough away that “we have time.”
However, now is a great time to shake up your fitness routine…or lack thereof…many of us could use a bit of a spring tune up – even the person who seems to be on top of their game. With great weather brings great opportunities. Why not try one of the following ideas out to shake up your regular routine or motivate you to get moving again:
1. Hop off the treadmill – I went running today with a training buddy. We are both training for duathlons and triathlons and we get together every Tuesday to bike and run. He’s a bit of a fair weather runner when it comes to running outside and is a bit of a treadmill junkie. It was 60 degrees and sunny today so there was no way we were running on treadmills! After the 5k route in which he had to stop and take some walk breaks he admitted that he wasn’t in the running shape he thought he was. Running outside is quite different from running on the treadmill. Here’s why: unless you set the treadmill to a specific workout or rolling hills you are running on a flat surface…the treadmill also does a lot of the work for you – it regulates your pace and you can mindlessly run to whatever tunes or shows that suit you. Running outside requires you to regulate your own pace and propel yourself over whatever surface you chose to run on. So hop off the treadmill and find a local trail or wander through a cool neighborhood!
2. Try a group fitness/small group training class – if you are a solo exerciser why not try joining a group fitness or small group personal training class? These classes are often free or at a rate that is drastically less than you would pay for individual personal training and will challenge you in ways that your body is not used to being challenged. Haven’t started exercising? Going to one of these classes and building community with the other participants gives you accountability in exercising. There are many beginner classes out there just as there are many advanced classes for the person who wants to take it to the next level. You can find these classes both in gyms and local communities. You often don’t have to be a member at gyms to join these groups, but be prepared to pay a slightly higher rate if you aren’t.
3. Head to a local park – If your local park had a fitness trail, try it out. There are many that do and a these fitness trails are usually underused! A fitness trail had a number of different stations with instruction for what to do at each, from sit-ups to push-ups to step-ups and more. No fitness trail? No problem! You can create your own! Try running to the playground and doing pull-ups or the monkey bars, run to a bench a bit of a distance away and step (or jump!) up for 1 minute, run to a grassy area and do some sit-ups or hold a plank, run down to the beach and do walking lunges…use your imagination and be creative with it! Or bring some friends with you to the park and throw a frisbee, challenge each other to a game of volleyball, kick the soccer ball around or try playing tennis at a local court. If you’ve never played tennis you’ll definitely get a workout in chasing those tennis balls (tip: bring a LOT of tennis balls!)
4. Pay for one session with a personal trainer at your gym – if you aren’t the group exercising type and have been doing the same routine, are having trouble reaching a goal or just want to shake things up getting one session with a personal trainer can help! A trainer can help evaluate where you are and where the blind spots in your workout routine are…or get you started with a workout routine if you don’t know where to begin…and give you guidance and a great workout!
5. Enter an event – whether that be a 5k, 10k, marathon, duathlon, triathlon, adventure race, obstacle race or what have you an event is great motivation and a lot of fun to participate in!
6. Check your equipment. Okay – so this one isn’t a way to shake things up, but it is important if you are beginning an exercise regimen or changing up the way you are going to work out. Look at those gym/running shoes – is the tread worn down leaving a smooth bottom on those shoes? You should pick up a new pair – worn out shoes can leave you injury prone and uncomfortable. A good rule of thumb is to replace themat least every six months. If you are a runner, replace them every 300-500 miles or six months, whichever comes first. Many exercisers will need to replace them sooner – be sure to check your tread, but know that the cushioning can wear down before the tread does in some shoes. It might also be worth investing in a couple articles of good workout clothing – no one likes chaffing or too much chest bounce. For women a good sports bra can make a world of difference and moisture wicking fabric will help keep you cool, dry and chaffing free. Last, be sure to check your body – it’s your most vital piece of equipment…get an annual physical and and/or a fitness assessment by a fitness professional. You don’t want to have to stop exercising soon after you start because of a bum knee, or any other physical issue. A doctor’s okay is a good idea if you have been sedentary and if you don’t know proper form for exercising having some instruction will set you up well for the future.