by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
Spring welcomes changes. Your workout should, too …
If you spend your workout doing everything but sweating, it’s time for a change. Congratulate yourself for reaching a point in your fitness level where you can exercise while daydreaming, chatting, reading, or watching TV. Then, immediately take it up a notch, or five, and feel the burn!
You don’t always need a heart monitor to confirm your workout’s challenge level. Be mindful of these indicators:
Can You Talk?
A workout buddy is great motivation and support. If you manage to discuss your latest work dilemma and world events during treadmill time, rethink your efforts. Exercising at moderate intensity only should allow you to share a few choppy sentences. High-intensity workouts should allow two or three words at a time before taking a breath.
Choose a pace that only allows you to blurt out encouragement to your pal. Save conversations for a post-workout smoothie or soak in the spa pool.
Are Your Motions Mindless?
Boring workouts yield boring results. Worse yet, they often lead to boring tasks chosen over workouts. (Admit it, you once skipped a workout to catch up on laundry or paperwork.) Mindlessly moving through your fitness session may signal a lack of challenge. Although you enjoyed this routine a few months ago, it no longer demands your attention or efforts. It no longer challenges you, and your muscles are getting off easy.
Try a new Group Fitness class. Ask the instructor to recommend a similar class, just different enough to add a fresh spark. Or, check out another class taught by the same instructor. Meet with a personal trainer to reevaluate your routine. Get introduced to a different piece of equipment. Maybe it is time to take a land workout to the pool or aquatic workout to the Exercise Floor.
Freshen your routine every four weeks to maximize results. Always include all elements of fitness: cardio, strengthening, and stretching. In between, continue to advance by increasing time and intensity weekly. A trainer can help you safely challenge yourself.
Have You Watched Every Episode?
Multitasking workouts with the next episode of a favorite show can have us running to the Center. (Cliffhangers, anyone?) Technology makes it possible to read, watch, and listen while we toil away our routine. Distracting ourselves with entertainment can help assure we honor our workout schedule, and even extend the time we dedicate to fitness. (I’ll cool down after the next scene/chapter.)
Continue to check in with your body. Do not get so engrossed in the plot that you lose your own storyline. You know, the one about the guy striving to enter a 5K this season. He battles villains like Ben & Jerry, work deadlines, and his kid’s soccer schedule.
Monitor your intensity. You cannot enter the sweat zone by turning pages. Remain at a challenging pace. Try entertaining yourself with a mindful workout. Ask a personal trainer to explain the inner workings of your efforts. Visualize your muscles and joints hard at work. Imagine successfully reaching your goals. Make fitness itself exciting with variety and challenges.
Save entertainment for the movie theater. If you need the mental distraction, give yourself credit. Some level of exercise during TV time is better than a night on the couch, endless channel surfing, and a bag of chips.
Your workout should be a balance of capable challenges. Comfortable enough to keep it safe. Varied enough to keep it effective and fun. Welcome change!