The winter months divide us into two types of people: the fit and the unfit. Fit people keep moving no matter what. They don’t use the dreary cold months to deter them from reaching their health goals. Unfit people make excuses, so they can spend more time indoors on the couch. But even a person who claims to be totally uninterested in exercising can find something that excites them enough to get moving.
Exercise must not be looked at as a chore, because in reality it should be something that makes you feel good before, during, and afterward. Secondly, we need to stop finding the time for exercise, but rather MAKE time for it. It starts with small changes. Presently, if you are doing absolutely nothing then 15 minutes of something is worthwhile. Don’t be fooled into thinking that unless you’re breaking a sweat and hurting later that your exercise didn’t make a difference. Anything is better nothing, and hopefully the more you do the more you will want to do.
A regular gym routine, including weights and cardio, for many people is just what the doctor ordered. Others get bored or simply don’t feel comfortable in a gym. But at the end of day it is the exercise that you can stick with that matters most.
From talking with my patients and with some of my own personal picks, here are some ideas for finding your fitness muse:
Pilates, developed by Joseph Pilates, emphasizes the balanced development of the body through core strength and flexibility. Pilate exercises are done on either a mat on the floor or on the Reformer, resistance equipment specific to a Pilates studio. Years ago I did Pilates and can honestly say that I’ve never worked my abdomen like I did on the Reformer.
If you like to get your heart rate up and enjoy cycling, spinning is a win-win. Before I discovered yoga (will get to that below) I was an avid spinner. Loved the energy of the room and camaraderie with all the other cyclists.
If I was still into spinning today, the question would be whether I would choose Flywheel or SoulCycle. If you live in NYC, Chicago, L.A., or Miami you know what I’m talking about, because they’re trendier than some restaurants or clubs.
Flywheel has developed the TorqBoard, an in-studio display that provides riders with the option to compare their performance against the rest of the class in real time. Perhaps because I’m very competitive, this sounds very cool. I’ve heard the instructors teach very challenging classes, set to a high-energy playlist. SoulCycle (now partnered with Equinox) also has very challenging and exuberant classes, which are taught in packed rooms lit by Jonathan Adler’s signature grapefruit candles. The cycling routine incorporates both upper body and core workouts.
So simple to do, it really doesn’t get any easier. Walking is free, can be done anywhere and any temperature (just dress for it). I suggest buying a pedometer to record your steps, aiming for 10,000 per day. Sometimes walking for a cause that’s close to your heart (i.e. cancer, diabetes) is really motivating and will get even the couch potato moving.
I’ve been an avid yoga practitioner for over 12 years and have found no other form of exercise to be more rewarding or challenging. Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bikram, and Anusara are just some of the many types available. Sometimes you need to try different types and teachers until you find the one that’s right for you.
If you like to dance Zumba has your name written all over it. Zumba is a Latin dance-inspired fitness program created by dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez in Colombia during the 1990s, and is definitely hot at the moment. I’ve never been, but my patients swear by it.
The list can go on and on: boot camp, pole dancing, bowling, tennis, ping-pong (yes, it counts), running, swimming, fencing, basketball, and TRX suspension training.
After you’ve selected your new activities, keep these helpful guidelines in mind:
1. Make it fun. Find an activity that you enjoy.
2. Find a buddy. Having an exercise partner can keep you more accountable.
3. Schedule it. Make an appointment with exercise and don’t cancel it.
4. Lay out your exercise clothes. Keep them by your bedside so as soon as you open your eyes in the morning they’re your motivation.
5. Bring your clothes with you. By going straight to the gym from work you increase your chances of actually getting there.
So stop the excuses, forget about the cold, dreary months ahead, and start moving your body today. Spring is around the corner and there’s no time like the present to get ready!