By Kim Silvia-Paré While we may not be rid of all this winter's snow until at least July, it is still that time of year to make some change. Spring is the perfect time for new beginnings!
Think for a moment about your exercise routine. Ask yourself if you're feeling good about yourself. Did you allow winter to affect you negatively? Did you turn to food to survive the long, cold nights? If the winter blues got to you this season, it's time to step away from the caloric comfort foods and get into an exercise routine. But how do you start? Are you a deconditioned athlete? If so, getting back into your sport might be something you could pursue. Exercise doesn't have to be tedious. You are more likely to stick with a program if you actually enjoy what you're doing. If there's a sport you've always wanted to try, don't be afraid to learn!
What if you have never exercised a day in your life? Fear not. I have the answer.
If you throw yourself into a fitness routine 100% without a plan, you are most likely going to burn out quickly, get bored, or worse yet, get injured. First, think about what you like. You'll really need to assess your personality traits. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you choose a path towards fitness! Remember: don't begin an exercise program without checking with your doctor first to make sure that you are healthy enough to start.
- What do you want to get out of exercise? We all have heard how exercise is great for the body and the mind. Be very clear on what you would like to gain. A fitness program for a client who is looking to lose weight will be vastly different than someone who wants to gain muscle and for someone who wants to exercise to manage stress. Fortunately, weight loss, muscle toning and stress management are all side effects of exercise. Cardiovascular exercise such as running, swimming and cycling is great for weight loss. Strength training is great for building muscle. Yoga is great for flexibility. A perfect fitness regime should have a mix of cardio, strength and flexibility.
- Are you self-motivated? The truth is, only 8% of regular exercisers stick to a fitness plan on their own. If you feel that you could be self-motivated though, look into joining a gym that has all kinds of exercise equipment. Make sure you get some guidance from a certified personal trainer on how to correctly use the equipment. If you have a gym membership, try to get there at least four times a week. Big gyms in particular can charge lower membership rates because unmotivated clients "donate" money every month and never step in the door. Consistency is key with any exercise.
- Are you a social person, or a private person? Fortunately there is something out there for all types of people. Social people might enjoy the camaraderie of group exercise classes. There's no better feeling than knowing that you aren't suffering alone in a challenging class. How do you pick a class? While you should try to mix up your schedule with different classes to be a better rounded program, you should pick what you like. If you like dance, try Zumba. If you love sweating a lot, try indoor cycling classes. If you prefer not to sweat a ton, try Pilates or yoga. I couldn't even begin to list the choices in fitness classes that are out there. Try them all! As I say all the time: what's the worst that could happen? If you prefer to be alone, one on one personal training in a boutique studio is your best choice for privacy. Be sure that your trainer is certified through a nationally recognized organization such as ACE or NASM. This will assure that they have sufficient knowledge to keep you safe during each workout. This will also ensure that your form is correct during every exercise.
- Do you like being inside or outside? With spring coming, get out if you love the outdoors! Walking, biking, rollerblading, running, hiking, or outdoor boot camps are all great options for springtime workouts. But if you don't like the unpredictability of New England weather, stay climate controlled indoors. Indo-Row and indoor cycling are outdoor activities brought inside! No need to risk drowning or crashing on your bike.
With so many places to work out and train in this area, you have numerous options. Finding what is best for you requires a little bit of self reflection. You are already on your way to being a better you by choosing to get active!
Kim Silvia-Paré is the Group Fitness Director at CORE Studios in Providence. She is an ACE personal trainer and instructor.