Category Archives: pain
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!
1) Get more sleep: Hmmm… so the goal was to get seven hours at least five nights per week. That hasn’t exactly been happening. However, I’ve been getting better about it! Weekends I’m obviously still getting plenty, and six hours during the week has been a lot more common than the five I was looking at before. I could still improve here, but I must say that I’ve been a lot less tired, my skin has looked better, and I’m pushing a lot harder in workouts. I’m going to start getting myself on a more consistent sleep cycle (especially since I’m getting a LOT more morning clients, so these seven hours are going to be key!)
Overall, I’d say two (and a half…ish) out of four ain’t bad! Did you make goals for this month or for the year as a whole? How are they going? If not, are you thinking about making some? Let me know!
This is a question I have to ask a lot of potential clients. Every new member at our gym gets a free personal training session, and when setting up these appointments, I often ask, “Do you prefer a male or female trainer?” Now, a lot of people will say they don’t care either because they really don’t or because they’re afraid of offending me with their answer. But I often wonder, who do people really want training them? And what’s the reasoning?
Personally, I have only had male trainers. You would think feminist me would be all about having a female trainer, but I just wasn’t. Mostly because guys were the ones who approached me, but also because that’s what I asked for when it came time to actually buy training. It’s not that I don’t think a female trainer could kick my ass, because I know from my own training that this simply isn’t true. In fact, I’ve nearly made guys puke during my workouts before (so there!). But honestly, I think my choice stemmed from my own insecurities. The female trainers at the gym by my apartment all seemed so girly and just teeny. Thanks to being a sorostitute for three years, I was worried that they would all be sizing me up while we trained, as women often do with one another (catty bitches, right?). So I went with guy trainers because I didn’t care about being sweaty and gross in front of them. They can judge me all they want, but they can’t really compare my body to their own, so I don’t really care.
Other women feel the total opposite. My friend Kate said that she wanted a female trainer at first because of her insecurities. When she started with a male trainer, she said she always tried to “get dressed” to go to the gym, but then she learned it was more about the sweat and the hard work, and stopped caring what she looked like while she was working toward her goal. And I’ve talked to a lot of women who feel this way. They don’t mind dripping and panting in front of other women, but working out with a male trainer makes them nervous. I’ve also heard that women like working out with other women because they can relate. Duh, I didn’t even think of this one, even though most of my female clients talk to me about their lives every single day. I get it that stress does a number on you and your goals. I get it that we can’t drop five pounds as easily as the guys. I get it that sometimes you need a little chocolate and that there are certain days when you will be crankier than others. I get it.
With guys, the situation can be a little different. Boys are gross to begin with (if there are any male readers, feel free to defend yourselves in the comments section), so I doubt they worry too much about sweating a lot during their workouts. However, some men are a little iffy about sweating that much in front of cute girls who are telling them what to do. I’ve even heard from one or two male gym members that they’re worried that if a woman trainer is touching them (for instructional purposes, obvi) and ordering them around like a drill sergeant that they’ll “get turned on.” (I had no idea how to react to that comment.) Anyway, some guys choose male trainers because those are simply things they don’t want to fret over.
The issue of competence is something else entirely. I think, at times, both men and women think that female trainers won’t be as tough or can’t possibly know what they’re doing. I’m going to be biased for a second and tell you that, we do, in fact, know our stuff. We had to get certified just like the guy trainers, and we do just as much strength training as they do. Just because we can’t lift as much as some guys, this does not mean that we can’t put you through the workout of your life. [Girl Power rant over.] Some guys will say they want a guy because they don’t think a girl will be able to help them bulk up. Other male clients will say they wouldn’t mind a female trainer because they don’t mind if someone a little prettier watches them sweat, and they feel like they might even work a little hard to impress their trainers.
In the end, there’s no general answer across the board. I guess it all depends on personal preferences, and it might not even be gender-based, but actually just whether or not your personalities mesh.
What do YOU think? Would you rather hire a female or male trainer? Why? Does it matter to you, or you just need to make sure you have a trainer with whom you get along and who motivates you the right way? Spill!
Yesterday I put off working out for a little bit. Like, until 7pm. And the gym closes at 8.
So what’s a girl to do when she needs to cram in a good workout in less than an hour? Crank up the intensity, baby! Which is exactly what I did.
Luckily, I can see the gym from my apartment window, so a) it’s super close and b) I no longer have an excuse to skip it. Ever. Anyway, I was in by 7:10 and ready to go. I decided to do circuits with little to no rest in order to make it more difficult. Honestly, because it was so quick, I was worried that I hadn’t worked hard enough, but this morning I woke up pretty sore! Mission accomplished. Overall this workout took me about 35 minutes, and I was able to hit every muscle group:
Bis, tris, chest
3×15 bicep curls, standing on Bosu ball (multitasking, work that core!)
3×15 pushups, pushing off of flat side of Bosu (working on stability again!)
3×15 triceps kickbacks
3×15 leg press machine (love this one because I can lift as much as some guys at the gym, ha!)
3×15 seated leg curls
3×10 (on both legs) lunges
Back (lats) and shoulders (delts)
3×15 bent-over rows
3×10 front raises
3×10 lateral raises
2×25 situps on Bosu (can you tell I love this thing yet?)
2×25 Russian twists, holding dumbbell
(was going to throw a plank or two in there, but I was running out of time!)
After that I finished up with an easy 25-minute run outside (which was supposed to be speed work, but the previously stress-fractured shins were saying, ‘not tonight, honey.’), and I was feeling pretty good. Plus I got some practice in for making up full-body workouts on the spot, which totally builds my confidence as a trainer. Anyway, the point is that sometimes we work better under pressure, even in exercise, and can get in just as good of a workout in one hour as we can in two!