10 Workout Tips to Maximize Your Routine
Sometimes, we have to get back to the basics to make sure we are getting the most out of our workouts. Whether you are new to fitness or a regular class “junkie,” these 10 tips are an important gut-check.
1. INJURIES / NEWBIE
If going to a class, tell your instructor about any injuries or limitations you have and don’t be shy about saying you’re new. Being safe when exercising is paramount. When you’re injured or your body isn’t able to do something or you’re new to a type of exercise, the risk of hurting yourself increases. A good instructor will know how to handle your needs, suggest modifications, and make sure you’re using proper form. If you’re working out on your own, be mindful of what your body is able to do and proceed accordingly.
2. NO PAIN, NO GAIN
We all have heard the phrase, “no pain, no gain.” The truth is, this just isn’t accurate. There is good pain and bad pain and trust me, you can tell the difference. When something is “bad pain,” stop. It’s nothing to feel ashamed of and likely means that you’re not using proper form or your body isn’t ready or able to do a particular movement. Drop down to lighter weights, put your knees down if you’re doing pushups, ask your instructor for a modification. Whatever it is, just find an adjustment. Pushing through the pain could lead to injury and potentially have long-lasting consequences.
3. CHALLENGE YOURSELF
This could be anything from trying a new class to seeing if you can hold your plank for ten more seconds. The unfamiliar is scary and it might end up that it’s not for you, but you’ll never know unless you try. No matter what, the experience of doing the unknown will make you stronger.
4. GRAB A FRIEND
Some people are die-hard solo sweaters but even if you fall into that category, I suggest that you try burning with a friend at least once. Not only does it help keep you accountable on days when you’re lacking in motivation, but it’s a great way to increase social time in your life. Afterwards, you can refuel together over coffee or a meal and keep the fun going.
If I start thinking about cancelling an upcoming class, a temptation often born out of nerves prior to a new-to-me workout, I make it known that I’m going. This doesn’t have to be as public as a social media post, though it can be. Sometimes simply telling a friend (enlisting him/her to go optional) or, if I know the instructor, letting him/her know that I’m coming, is enough. Once it’s out there, it makes me accountable and I have to show up.
6. DRESS TO IMPRESS (AND PERFORM)
Wear something comfortable and class-appropriate. Always dress in what makes you feel your best. With that in mind, you also need to take account of what activity you’ll be doing (spin class: skip the loose fitting pants), weather (if outdoors), and those around you (i.e. be appropriate: no offensive sayings and some modesty please). Personally, I’m a fan of sparkles and have an embarrassingly large collection of Sparkly Soul headbands that I match to my outfit. I also used pink glitter paint to give my spin shoes a little something extra.
7. BE RESPECTFUL
Barring an outdoor workout in a very remote, isolated location, you are pretty much guaranteed to encounter others during your workout. While fitness is something you do for yourself, that doesn’t give you a free pass to abandon your social skills. Places where exercising common courtesies frequently arise are talking during group classes, maintaining good personal hygiene (read smells), machine/space/shower hogging, and cleaning up after one’s self. No one is perfect and we’re all guilty of committing a fitness faux pas. The difference is in recognizing your error and doing your best not to repeat it. Lastly, if someone calls you out mid-fail, please apologize and adjust your behavior.
I prefer to workout to music, so for me a good playlist is key. If I’m taking a class, music is taken care of by the instructor. When it’s just me, I like a mix of songs, and tend to choose songs in the pop and dance families, with pretty high bpms so that even if I start to lose motivation, the music will take over and keep me going. I find that my level of intensity often naturally syncs up with the beat of the music so if I keep it fast and fun, it’s easier for me to give it my all. I also like to use remixes and mashups to keep me on my toes, as with many of the originals I know how long the song is or can easily approximate it. I suggest reading through your playlist before you get started so you know that you like what is on deck and that you make the playlist longer than your workout will last. Once you start, you don’t want to get distracted by songs you don’t like or have the playlist end and be scrambling to find music mid-elliptical.
Aside from being safe in executing your workout, make sure that the experience is designed with safety in mind. For me, this means that I go to a workout with my keys, phone, subway card, and an emergency $20. Not to be a party pooper (fitness floppy?), but you never know what might happen. If you have a home gym, these items aren’t necessary, but particularly when doing an outdoor workout alone (or with people you don’t know) or when traveling, you don’t want to end up in a bind. In these situations, I recommend telling someone you are going and letting him know you got back safely, even if it’s the doorman.
10. HAVE FUN!
Above all, have fun! Not every moment of the workout will be a blast but you shouldn’t do something that you dread. There is nothing worse than looking at the clock or fighting back “I hate this” thoughts. Fitness is about finding your best and you can’t do that if you’re miserable. With the ever-expanding class offerings at gyms, increase in boutique fitness studios, and availability of online/app-based workouts, there’s no reason to stick with something you don’t enjoy. Experiment and find what works for you. Once you find the workout(s) that click, the “work” will drop away and you’ll just be going “out”- add to that some cute leggings, killer music, and friends and then you really are just going out.
Leah is a lawyer from New York with a passion for fitness. Her favorite workouts are Flywheel & Flybarre. Aside from fitness, Leah loves modern art, discovering new areas of her native New York, and is always on the quest for the best brownie. Leah is a BurnThis Ambassador and is part of SELF Magazine’s SELFStarters. Follow her on twitter @lfrosenbaum.