Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dear Resolutioners,

My high hopes of blogging again regulary all crashed and burned after Return Post #1 last March. [Whomp whomp.]

I did make a second Monument Avenue 10k preview post...but looking back this doesn't make much sense considering I never blogged about the actual race. [The abridged recap: It was great!]. My job is just too demanding to commit to the type of regular blogging schedule I had years ago. BUT, I do have a lot of ideas about fitness and running swirling around in my head, so I don't want to shut this thing down. I like having an outlet to share and connect about these topics. So with that,

IT'S 2014! It's too early on in the year to know what that even means. But as I've scrolled through My Facebook Newsfeed of:  Reflections on 2013, Goals for 2014, and status updates bitching about crowded gyms I've wanted nothing more than to post a letter to resolutioners. Mainly because I've been one to Google topics as I'm thinking about change. And I want to offer some insight in case someone is looking for it.

Dear Resolutioners,

DON'T do this alone. It actually makes me sad to think of heading to the gym, trying to figure out the proper way to use a piece of exercise equipment, doing the best I could according to the pictures on the machine, feeling challenged/overwhelmed, calling it quits, and heading home.

I've seen people do this at the gym, and it's just so much easier to stick with something you enjoy and -this might sound ridiculous right now but- is FUN.

Inevitably, when people think of workout help the first thing to come up is a Personal Trainer. I don't think there is anything wrong with using a Personal Trainer but if that isn't an option monetarily or is incredibly intimidating for your first trip back to the gym in months or years, there are 3 other things that have worked well for me. So well that removing any one of these things from my routine would create a huge void.

1)  Group Fitness

They say hit the gym with a friend for accountability, but in my experience all it takes is one person having a change in their schedule and both halves of the workout duo are thrown off. Group fitness has been a wonderful way around this for me because classes at the gym are rarely cancelled. Group fitness instructors tend to be very friendly -- they like working out so much they want to share their knowledge with strangers-- and at the very least like to learn the names of the particpants in their class. Getting to know group fitness instructors has held me much more accountable than planning to use cardio equiptment with a friend. I know Nicole will be looking for me in her Step class, and I hate to miss it. The other thing that is great about group fitness classes is the instructors tend to give intensity options that cater to all fitness levels in their classes.

My recommendation for Group Fitness classes is try a lot of different classes until you find the style of class and an instructor you prefer. My personal favorites: Body Pump, Body Step, and Cycle.

I've tried Zumba, Athletic Conditioning, and Kickboxing. Occassionally I'll take them to switch things up, but the most important thing is finding something you want to stick with.

2) Signing up for a race

The running community is one of the most welcoming places I've ever found! The thing with runners is we know running makes us happy -- we get REALLY excited when someone new decides to pick up running or try for a new distance. There is absolutely nothing that compares to the feeling of accomplishment when you cross a finish line. Running is hard, but it's an entirely different experience having people cheer for you in a race than spending some time on the treadmill or jogging around the neighborhood alone. Honestly the atmosphere at the races is what makes the training for them worth it. If you can find someone to sign up for a race with you this also helps for accountability, but the first 10k I ever did I ran alone and the feeling of accomplishment was as strong as ever!

One word of caution: Races are addictive ;)

3) Yoga

Some might categorize this as group fitness, but in my opinion it's more than that. You don't realize how much stress you are holding in and how out of alignment your body is until you start taking yoga regularly and miss a session. I'm of the personal belief that everyone can benefit from yoga. Yoga has been so key for me in injury prevention and stress relief. There is no such thing as being "good at yoga" it's a matter of continuing to challenge your own body.

If you feel you are starting from a place where you have a lot to learn, a few sessions with a trainer is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. It's better to be informed and safe than independent and injured.

And remember, "I really regret working out today" - said no one ever.   If you're using January 2014 to get back into a workout routine, be one of the people who sticks around and is all the happier for it!

This is about more than just how you look. The mood boost that comes after a workout is what keeps me hooked.