Category Archives: dance
So recently my friend Kira tweeted this at me: Hey, have you ever written about tips for getting back into exercise (or start) when you haven’t been doing any? And I realized that, nope! I haven’t! So let’s discuss!
Now, a little background here: Kira and I have been friends since freshman year at the University of Michigan where we were thrown together in a tiny little dorm room in Bursley Hall. Subsequently, we also ended up in the same a cappella group and the same sorority, so we realized we were going to be in this friendship for the long haul. Anyway, while I was very much a gym devotee, Kira was not. Don’t get me wrong, she liked to move and be active, but I don’t think she ever felt that compulsion to go sweat for 2 hours in the campus rec center every single day (plus, having a normal relationship with food along with good genes, she probably felt she didn’t need to), which isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. But now she does want to hit the gym a little more, and I think this is a great thing.
I think as a lot of us are getting older (read: we’re actual adults with lives that don’t involve weekends full of beer and just a few classes to deal with), we’re realizing the importance of a regular workout routine. And when we haven’t had one in a while – or never had one — it’s important to have a plan for getting into it. So, here are a few guidelines for starting or getting back into regular exercise.
1) Pick something you like, or even LOVE. You all know that there are certain fitness philosophies I subscribe to, and one is that you need to sweat, and the other is that you need to do strength AND cardio. But with all of the options out there now, there are plenty of enjoyable and creative ways to do all of these things. Hate running? Don’t do it! If something is more painful than enjoyable for you, then you’re going to do it approximately twice and give up on exercise altogether. So try out a lot of things, and figure out which one gets you huffing and puffing with a smile on your face! If you detest pounding the pavement, then try a dance class or hit the pool. Can’t stand the weight machines at the gym? Then hire a trainer who will make it fun (or at least distract you by chatting with you while they make you squat) or take a class in which you will tell the instructor you are a newbie or just restarting a program, and plunk yourself down in the front row so that he or she can keep an eye on your form. Whatever gets you moving and fits the three requirements (sweating, cardio, and strength) is an awesome place to start!
2) Ease your way into it. As much as you want to dive right into a 5-day-a week routine, DON’T. I’m not saying don’t try to be active as much as you can, but think about your current level of fitness. How long has it been since you exercised last? What were you doing before, if anything? How does your body respond to change? What are your goals? Is your body ready for intense workouts? If it’s been years since you’ve exercised, and you were never really that athletic before, your body probably isn’t ready for 5-mile runs Monday through Friday. Be realistic. If you aren’t, you’ll either hate what you’re doing or you’ll be incredibly sore for days or you’ll actually injure yourself and end up sidelined for a while (read: you’ll be taking another break from exercise before you even get into your routine). Honestly, when you’re first starting out, don’t even exercise every day! (What? Is she crazy!?) Here’s an example: I recently started running again after a little summer love affair with my bike. I know that in the past I was able to run 6 miles no problem, but now? Not so much. So I devised a little plan for myself to get back into running. I only run 3 days per week (some days only 2 miles, others about 4), and do other cardio or strength on the rest of the days. I’ll build up from this schedule. Whenever I’ve tried to jump right back into it previously, I’ve had ankle and stress fracture issues flare up again, and I had to stop running. As much as I might be mentally ready to do 6 milers, I know that I’m not there physically. And that’s OK. I will be soon, but not if I keep pushing myself on the miles and days I run and get injured again. **NOTE: You will probably be sore after starting up again, but don’t mistake this for a pulled muscle or another injury and just stop exercising. Learn to know the difference.
3) Take your schedule into account. I know, I know. I should be telling you that you should always make time for exercise. And you really should. But I realize that when starting a new workout regimen, it can all be a little overwhelming. Just like I don’t want you to throw your body into a new, super rigorous routine without any preparation, I don’t want you to jump into it without considering your LIFE. Maybe 90-minute boot camps every day aren’t really going to work with your 12-hour work days. But maybe a quick half hour on the spin bike every other day and one or two days of 20-minute strength routines on your lunch hour is something you can make time for. (Also, see #2. Don’t throw yourself into something intense like a 90-min bootcamp that quickly!) Get used to your beginner routine and how it works with the time you have first, and then ramp it up from there. Baby steps are the way to go here, and I bet that once you make a little time, you find ways to make even more to keep progressing.
4) Hire a trainer. Yes, I’m a little biased because I am one, but I’ve also been a client, and I know how much this helped me. I also know that trainers are expensive, but if you have the means, hire one for just a session or two (or longer if you really have the means!). What you’ll learn will help you so much in creating and sticking to a plan. They can make sure you know proper form for strength moves and they can give you tips on how to commit to a workout routine. Plus, making an appointment with someone almost guarantees that you’ll get your exercise in for the day!
I’m sure I could go on and on about how to start or get back into working out, but I want to hear from you! How did you get yourself (back) into a routine? Any tips for those who have no idea where to start? Spill!
Get more sleep: OK, repeat goal. While this one wasn’t a complete and utter fail last month, I did not get my seven hours at least five nights per week. I got close with six many nights, but still. I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to. So this month, I’m going to make sleep even more of a priority. But I’m going to lower the bar a teeny bit. I’m going to aim for seven hours at least four nights a week this month. (Give me your tips for getting to bed earlier! I’ll take all the help I can get!)
Incorporate new types of cardio into my routine: Since I started thinking about doing the Chicago Triathlon, I’ve been considering how I can take my workouts up a notch. The other day I made a fun cardio circuit for myself that involved a lot of spinning with some stair and lap running mixed in there . And I have to say, I kind of loved it! So I want to take at least two spinning classes this month, since I’ve tried it before but never really given it a chance. If I want to prep for the Tri (goal for March is to actually SIGN UP), I need to start now – but indoors because there is no way in HELL I’m biking along the lake with a -10 windchill.
Focus on the positive: I’ve always considered myself a pretty upbeat person, but I have also always had a problem with getting into my own head too much and overanalyzing everything (no, really, everything), and then dwelling on the negatives of a given experience. So this month, at least a three times a week, I want to write down the positive things that happen to me during the day. I was going through old texts today, and I came across some I had saved because they were from the really uplifting people in my life. My parents telling me how proud they are of me, an inspiring friend reminding me that I’m capable of anything, my boss encouraging me and letting me know I’m doing “one hell of a job.” I saved those for a reason – because I wanted to remind myself to focus on the positive – so I need to do that everyday!
Read more than just the back three pages of the Red Eye newspaper: Because scanning the celebrity gossip and doing the crossword puzzle isn’t really helping me become a more well-rounded person.
OK, so I was cranky today. And a little yesterday. Alright, fine, and the day before. So let’s do a little exercise in positivity, shall we?
Quick — name two things you love about your physical self (I’m feeling a little shallow today, too) right now. Not when you weigh ten pounds less or when you have a tan or when you have had time to get yourself all gussied up. Right this very instant.
I will start, because…well, I need to stop being so cranky.
A few things I LOVE about myself:
1) My eyebrows. Even when I’m wearing zero makeup, they still give me a little drama and make me look more expressive. I touch them up a little with the tweezers, but other than that I guess I’ve been given good brow genes. (Thanks, Mom!)
2) My eyes. No matter how much weight I gain or lose, or how much sun I’ve gotten, they are still a lovely shade of blue that changes depending on what I’m wearing. I’ve even been told they’re ‘mesmerizing.’ (If you must know, I actually laughed really hard at this, embarrassing the boy who said it. Sometimes I don’t handle compliments very well…)
3) Yeah, three, whatever, it’s my blog. I really like the part of my ankle that slopes into my feet. It’s strong but somewhat delicate at the same time (which is not representative of me at all, but I love it anyway), and I like the way my ankles and legs look in heels. Actually I kind of like my feet too, even though I have been told they’re atrocious. Years of dancing, running, and swimming will do that to you I guess. Whatevs, they’re lived in and strong, and that makes me like them even more.
OK, so I guess I actually listed four. I cheated.
What do you all love about your bod or your appearance right now? And since I broke the rules, you can too. Name as many things as you like!