I think we are all guilty of getting into ruts, whether it be our eating, our clothing, our hair style, even our fitness. And while it can be scary to change things up now and again, doing so is how we keep life fun and exciting!
When it comes to fitness, doing the same thing, the same way, time after time, not only feels boring but can slow down your progress. Muscles become more efficient as they perfect the same movements, and you can leave yourself open to muscle imbalances and potentially be neglecting an aspect of fitness (cardio, strength and flexibility are the three main aspects of fitness, but agility, coordination and balance are supplementary sources and need to be trained consistently as well).
Shaking up your fitness routine doesn’t necessarily mean ditching your favourite workouts or classes. Rethinking a few things you already do can be enough to flip everything on its head and help you feel fitter faster. Today I’m going share five ways you can do just that – and the best part is that they are all super affordable (or free!).
Start A Walking/Running Group or Try Out a New Route
This is especially great if you are a die-hard gym goer. Gathering up a few friends for a walking or running date once or twice a week in addition to your regular gym workouts not only helps you feel connected with your friends or family, it also helps get you out in the fresh air and get in more daily steps. While steps alone aren’t an indication of good health, people who average 10,000 steps/day may have lower blood pressure and better cardiovascular health according to one study. Another showed that getting close to 10,000/day helps lower blood glucose levels and cuts the risk of developing diabetes. Strict health benefits aside, walking or running with friends helps reduce stress levels as we tend to chat while we walk/run, getting the stresses of the day off our chests while moving. If you usually work out alone, adding a friend or two may make you feel more adventuresome tackling that trail or route you might be afraid to do on your own, and it can challenge you in different ways. All for free!
Try A New Activity
Trying out something new is always a great way to switch up your routine. While scaling a mountainside might be a bit much for some of us, checking out a local rock climbing gym can feel a lot less frightening. This is one activity that’s been on my “to-do” list for a number of years, and I’m hoping it’s one I’ll get to mark off the list in 2017.
Another fun activity to try is SUP’ing. I went for the first-time last year and had so much, fun. I can’t wait to do it again! Other spring and summer ideas are kayaking, hiking, biking… really the possibilities are endless! The nice thing about most of these activities is you can rent equipment for a few hours or a day, so the cost is minimal. Last year Cathy and I rented our SUP’s for a half day with a Groupon and it cost around $20 each!
Check Out a New Gym Workout
If you’ve been following the exact same workout schedule for months it’s probably time to check out something new. If you are all about the weights, try a new cardio routine for fun. If cardio is your jam, maybe you need to start hitting the weights a bit more frequently.
If you already have a gym membership, you’ve got it made. If you’d like a gym membership but haven’t been able to afford one in the past, there are great and affordable options out there now like Fit4Less, which starts at only $4.99 every two weeks + the start up fee. Fit4Less makes high-quality fitness affordable and provides more Canadians with the opportunity to achieve their health and fitness goals. Another benefit of Fit4Less is their 30- Minute Express Training Circuit, which will keep you on track, and get you in and out of the gym quickly so you can get on with your day.
Shift Your Focus
Adore the workouts you already do and don’t want to change them? That’s ok, you can make a few swaps in your everyday workouts without giving them up! In cardio based classes/workouts, try maintaining an engaged core throughout and you’ll probably be surprised at how much that changes how your workout feels (this is especially true in dance-based classes like Zumba which are full of hip and chest movements). Focusing on engaging your arms throughout can really change your workout as well. Suddenly you are getting an added muscular endurance workout at the same time as your cardio – bonus!
In yoga, if you are always focusing on building strength, start spending part of your class focusing more on balance or flexibility – or vice versa. Try doing Warrior I or II with your eyes closed -, that can really challenge your balance!
In strength-based classes or workouts, maybe it’s time to up your weights and reduce the number of reps you are doing. Another way to change things up is by playing with timing. Instead of a 2 counts up and 2 counts down bicep curl, lift for 3 counts and lower for 1 or lift for one and lower for 3. Be particularly careful not to use momentum and to control your weights. You can also add in new equipment. Try doing squats on a BOSU or learning how to use a TRX. There are so many different ways to do the same exercises there no reason for anyone to always do the same things the same way.
If you always run around your block one direction, head the opposite way! It’s the same route but in reverse and will challenge you in a different way.
Another great way to challenge yourself in classes is to avoid “your spot”. You know, the 1-2 places you always stand in a particular class? Try a new one on for size. Always in the back row? Try the front! Like to be on the left? Move to the right! The exact same class can feel completely different from a new vantage point.
Unplug – or Plug in!
Here’s an admission for you. I’ve had the exact same running playlist for probably 7 years. Yeah, I listened to the same songs in every race I’ve run for years. Many times I listened to that same playlist while training, and would know if I was running slower or faster than a previous day based on where I was when a certain song came on. When I started noticing that I decided I should shuffle my songs, and on long runs would listen to podcasts to keep my speed as slow as possible (podcast = no beat so I had no drive to run a certain beat/minute).
If you are like me and tend to listen to either the exact same music or the same kind of music try working out to something entirely different – or nothing at all! And if you are someone who never listens to anything while they workout, maybe it’s time to tune into something. If you don’t enjoy music there are lots of free podcasts and e-books you can listen to instead.
And for those super techie people who nearly DIE if they discover their FitBit is dead and their steps “aren’t counting,”, maybe what you need to do is leave all the tech at home for a week or two and see what it’s like to exercise without anything but your head and heart to tell you how you are doing. I love tech, but freeing myself from it from time to time is wonderfully liberating and good for the soul.
There you have it – 5 ways you can shake up your fitness routine this spring, without turning your life – or your budget – upside-down.
How Will I Be Shaking Up My Routine?
I have a list of new activities I want to try this spring/summer (including indoor rock-climbing), so that is how I’ll be shaking up my routine. What about you? Let me know in the comments how you’ll be shaking things up!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Fit4Less. The opinions and text are all mine.