Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fitness Fun Makeover

So fitness sometimes tends to gets the bad reputation of being "that thing you have to do to be healthy but gosh-darn-it wouldn't you rather be eating cupcakes!" Given the amazing gym disappearing act that goes on in March of all the New Year's resolution people, I'm thinking that a lot of people view exercise this way - you have to do it to be healthy, but it's so hard to fit it into the schedule, and anyway it's not all that fun so you have to get some serious motivation on to Just Do It.

So this post is all about the fun and enjoyable side of exercise. Not all the points are going to be relevant for you (my theory is that there are two kinds of exercisers - solo exercisers (runners, bikers, etc) and social exercisers (group fitness, social sports), and so I'll try to list fun aspects of both. However, this might be social exerciser-heavy, since that's what I am...). Especially now that we're going into the crazy busy holiday season, we need some way to make exercise fun and motivating so we'll actually get there and do it, instead of just meaning to.

1. Music

- if you're a solo, then great news! You get to design your own workout track. Choose songs which resonate with you, which will get your heart pumping. If you're sitting still and have to move when the song comes on, that's a good one. Also pay attention to the cadence - if you're running or cycling, it's easier to stay with a challenging pace if you run/bike with the speed of the music.

- if you're a social, then try to find a class with music you like (or if you play social sports, bring a boom box to the game with your favorite songs). Every instructor is different and has a different style, and music has a big impact on class (especially with spinning). If you try one class and it was ho hum, try a different instructor because the music (or their teaching style, that too) might just make the difference. Here's an example for you of the music tracks from one of the spinning classes I teach:
  • Bang (Eve6) – warm-up (easy, still able to breathe with mouth closed), 3:35 minutes, 60rpm
  • ATB Hold You (ATB Lyrics) – hill (start seated, add gear every 15 seconds until standing, don't drop below a cadence of 60, by the end of the song, you should not be able to breathe with your mouth closed), 3:29 minutes, 70rpm
  • Untouched (The Veronicas) - sprint (seated, add as much gear as you can while holding the cadence of the music, don't sacrifice speed for higher resistance. If you get tired, reduce gear. Challenged, completely uncomfortable, starting to breathe hard by the end of the song), 4:14 minutes, 90rpm
  • Falling On (Finger Eleven) – jumps (in the saddle 8 beats, stand 8, adding gear periodically until near breathless), 3:07, 80rpm
  • Little House (The Fray) - recovery (bring your breathe back down until you breathe with your mouth closed again), 2:32, 60rpm
  • Ici Maintenant (Marie-Mai) – sweet spot hill (stay out of the saddle, increase resistance to the highest possible without sacrificing cadence to kick your heart rate up), 3:00, 70rpm
  • Seventeen (Jimmy Eat World) – jumps (same as Falling on, challenged and breathing hard), 3:36, 75rpm
  • Forever (Chris Brown) - spring interval rolling hills (out of the saddle, every at every 30sec mark, give a 10 second spring (doesn't have to be fast, just faster than the base cadence), after the sprint, pull back to the music cadence and increase resistance a bit), 4:41, 60rpm
  • In My Arms (Plumb) – recovery (bring your breathe back down until you breathe with your mouth closed again), 4:04, 60rpm
  • Les Secrets (Dumas) - 20sec seated, 20sec standing (option to add gear on standing, push breathing back up until you can't breathe with mouth closed), 3:49, 80rpm
  • How Much Longer (Eve6) – sprint (same as Untouched), 3:06, 95rpm
  • Lips of an Angel (Hinder) – rolling hills (start with moderately heavy resistance at the cadence of the music. When you hit the chorus, pick up your cadence between 90-100rpm. Come back to cadence on the verse. Add gear (every chorus is a new hill and each hill is steeper), 4:23, 70-100rpm
  • Je te Vends mon Ame (Kyo) – recovery, 3:32, 60rpm
  • Breath (Breaking Benjamin) – sprint intervals (like rolling hills without the added resistance. Be sure to set a challenging resistance to start with, and don't go too fast. Cadence in the sprint is twice the cadence of the music, cadence in recovery is faster than the music), 3:38, 70-100rpm
  • Change Your Mind (The Killers) - sprint (this is a slower sprint than previously, but that doesn't mean you're recovering or that you're working any less hard. Just turn your gear as high as you can and push through it), 3:11, 75rpm
  • La Prochaine Fois (Marie-Mai) – cool down (stay on the bike for the entire song to bring your heart rate down), 3:50, 60-70rpm
  • Cuor Senza Sangue (Emma Shappelin) - stretch (be sure to stretch hamstrings, IT band, quads, back, neck, and calves)

2. Join a team - when you're having fun, you're less likely to realize you're exercising, or it won't seem to be a chore. Granted, many team sports aren't quite as high intensity (kickball for one, is more social than exercise, as I maybe get up to kick once or twice a game). So it depends whether you're looking for more social or more exercise. Dodgeball is definitely higher heart rate, as there's lots of running and ducking and throwing (given you can dodge dip dive dodge duck).

3. Try a bunch of different classes - so you went to a step class last year and felt like you stuck out like a sore thumb, going left when everyone was going right? You're not alone. Step, especially, is very high complexity and lower intensity (basically, lots of choreography that makes it confusing to the newcomer). It's like being dumped into a foreign country with a whole other language that you don't know. You could stick it out and pretty soon you'll be fluent in the language, or you could try another class. And to keep interested, go to a variety of classes, not just the same ones all the time.

4. Avoid boredom - has your workout become 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by a couple weight exercises? Been going to the same class every week for ages, and only that class with that instructor? Running the same distance at the same speed? Some people find doing the same kind of workout all the time soothing (if that's you, more power to you). I get seriously bored, so I have to change it up. Try a new class, a new weight machine, add an extra set, add some intervals, run a different route, you name it. Your mind will thank you. Your muscles will also work harder, as the new exercises won't be running on muscle memory.

5. Get a workout buddy - if you're a social exerciser and you have trouble motivating yourself, get yourself a workout buddy. If you're trying to work out on your own and don't feel like it, it's easy to say "I'll just do it tomorrow." If you have a workout buddy, there's motivation built in that you don't want to derail their workout by cancelling (I've done this and gone and worked out and found out that neither of us wanted to work out that day, but both did it because we didn't want to let the other down). Plus, the chit chat while you're working out can take your mind off of how hard the workout is.

6. Go where the hot guys/girls are - if you're trying to make a connection, then this might be the perfect option for some eye candy, or possibly flirting. And you're likely to work harder if you're trying to impress someone, and to stay longer to work out. And it'll be more fun! (Just make sure that you're not staring at them, creeping them out, and if you're flirting with them, tread carefully to make sure they're open to it. Because there's nothing worse than that creepy guy/girl at the gym who just doesn't know when to stop).

Any other fun tips you guys have?


MizFit said...

I need to figure out how to get all the songs I WANT on my friggin ipod shuffle!
is it the shuffle? is it me?! is it itunes?!

I KNOW Id run if I got that together.

right? yes?

(Id at least lose my excuse...)

another comprehensive funny interesting keep pulling em out.
me? some days? not so much :)


Charlotte said...

Hee! I love this! What a great list. Esp. that last one. Even us old married ladies perform a little better in the presence of some hotties. *blush*

The Lethological Gourmet said...

Miz - iTunes can be awfully dense sometimes! I got a new computer recently and it took me way too long to figure out how to transfer my songs from one to the other and get them to update to my ipod from the new computer (copyright restrictions), and this is me, who works in computer science publishing!

Also, you're totally not giving yourself enough credit! You've got a great blog, which is why every time I visit there are already 60 posts and I don't have time to read them all! :(

Charlotte, nothing wrong with admiring eye candy, nothing nothing at all! Because seriously, if we can't admire attractive people, even if we're not going to pursue them for one reason or another, then what are we here for?!

The Lethological Gourmet said...

(not that you can't admire people for other than their attractiveness, I'm just talking purely eye candy here)

jeffg said...

What the hell, kickball isn't a great workout for you?!?


The Lethological Gourmet said...

When only 9 people show up for the game, it certainly is! I don't think I've had to kick and run the bases that many times in one game in all of my six seasons!! :)