Well folks, it's officially holiday season! With Thanksgiving coming up next week and Christmas right around the corner, this time of year always brings with it a little extra indulgence - you can't skip apple pie on Thanksgiving! - which inevitably leads to New Year's resolutions to get back in shape. But why wait until next year when you can end this year strong and start now? While the bustle of the holidays certainly makes it easy to skip the gym, now is actually a great time to solidify a workout routine so come January you can dedicate those resolutions to something else. Getting fit is a lifestyle shift, but while your workouts should be hard, finding and sticking to your routine doesn't have to be! Here are five easy tips to make building a routine easier, so you can spend less time wishing you were in better shape and more time getting healthy...
1. Learn your workout style.
The first thing to do is figure out what kind of workouts you have fun doing. Find out what the options are in your area and take the time to try out different gyms and classes. Try working out solo, with a trainer or in a group class. Personally, I love high energy, dance-based workouts, so that was any easy way for me to narrow things down. With an app like MindBody, I was able to type in what I was looking for and voilà! All the nearest dance cardio class schedules, client reviews, and even the ability to sign up all right on my iPhone! You might immediately find something you love (or hate), but each experience will lead you a little closer to pinpointing the right routine for you. Bottom line, don't force yourself to do something you absolutely dread. Staying fit is a lifestyle change, so make sure you enjoy it! Once you have that figured out, you can tailor the exact exercises you're doing to achieve the results you want.
2. Make your workout work for you.
While you're searching for a workout, remember to take into account the gym's schedule and yours. Consistency is key in fitness both for results and for staying committed to a routine, so look for a gym that is open during your preferred workout time. How disappointing would it be to sign up for a great yoga studio, only to realize the last class of the day is at 5PM and you don't get out of the office until 8PM? Maybe save that class for a once a month relaxation day and, instead, sign up for the gym that's open until midnight for your everyday workouts. Or maybe you're like me and wake up super early, but there's nothing open at 5AM. No problem! There are tons of workout DVDs and streaming services that can give you the gym experience right at home. One of my all-time favorites is Tracy Anderson Method, which offers extensive DVD and online streaming subscriptions that give me a new workout every week. And don't think because you're working out at home that it isn't hard! Tracy's weekly workouts are master classes filmed directly in her world-renowned studios, so streamers get the exact same (and incredibly tough!) workout that her studio clients do. Just find what you like and then make it work for you!
3. Set concrete goals.
It takes time to develop a routine, so giving yourself goals is a great way to stay motivated. Just make sure that the goals you set are actually tangible! One of the biggest reasons to workout is to be healthier, but how are you going to know when you've hit that? Think about what being healthy actually means to you and come up with measurable milestones to work towards. Maybe that means running a 5k or fitting into that pair of jeans you haven't worn since college. Whatever it is - figure out when you would like to accomplish it by, write it down in your calendar, and get to work! I also like to breakdown my larger goals into 'mini goals' or monthly challenges, so that with each thing that gets accomplished, I still have something to work towards instead of just saying "OK, I'm done!" and ending my routine there. So you hit your goal of running a 5k. Great! Next month try to run it in under 30 minutes, then in under 25 minutes; maybe in a couple months you'll start shooting for a 10k, then a half marathon, and so on. It's so much easier to stay on track when you have a reason for doing something and goals to achieve!
4. Stay accountable.
You've found your favorite workout and set your goals, now how do you stick to it? Start by adding your workouts into your agenda, so you know not to schedule anything else during that time. Another way to stay accountable is to partner up with others. Swap weekly cocktails with the girls for a group spinning session, make friends in your favorite dance class, book time with a trainer, join a running club. When I found myself really out of shape two years ago thanks to an unhappy job, I knew it was time to really commit, so I joined Body By Simone's 8 Week Total Body Plan. I'd already been taking class at BBS periodically, but by joining the 8 - week group I was able to kickstart my routine and found an amazing community, both among the trainers and other clients. With their support, I quickly became healthier and stronger, to the point where I was doing two hour workouts five to six days a week! Why? It's harder to bail on a workout when you have a support system and others are counting on you to be there! Working out solo? Try a fitness tracker like FitBit, or keep a calendar in a visible spot where you can mark down all your workouts and check them off when they're done. Seeing a stretch of blank days is usually enough to make me to lace up my sneakers and get to it.
5. Be flexible.
How often have you fallen off the workout wagon because one day you couldn't fit in a full hour, then you woke up late, then you were traveling, and next thing you know it's a month later and you haven't seen the gym once? Our schedules don't always cooperate, but by having a backup plan (or two) in place you can still make sure that you're doing something. Say you usually do an hour of running followed by strength training, but today you overslept and now only have 30 minutes. Don't worry! Try a half hour high intensity circuit of moves like burpees and mountain climbers that will give you cardio and muscle toning in one. Do you travel a lot? Book a hotel with a gym, throw a jump rope in your suitcase, or download a workout video on your iPad. When I moved out of Manhattan back in July, I was worried I'd fall out of shape without my Body By Simone classes, but thanks to Simone's streaming service BBS TV and her DVD (her second one will be out this weekend!), I've still been able to do the workouts from home and stay fit. At the end of the day it's not about perfection, it's just about doing the best you can when you can!
So that's everything - find a workout that is fun and that fits into your schedule, set goals to stay motivated, find ways to stay accountable and give yourself options! All of these tips can not only help you find a new workout, but can also help you get back on track when you're in a fitness rut or even when you need help eating well. Ultimately, a healthy lifestyle should be fun and should make you feel great, so forget perfection - just strive to do your best each day and the rest will fall into place!
What are some of your favorites tips for starting and maintaining a fitness routine? Let me know in the comments below, and, as always, thank you for reading!
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