By: Lia Lansky Pulver, MS, ACSM
Many of us have the right intentions for starting workout programs – losing weight, staying healthy, getting fit. In our busy lives, finding a time that works is often the biggest hurdle we face. Attaining – and maintaining – fitness is a long-term commitment, and your success depends on consistency.
Morning vs. Evening Workouts
While studies support workout programs at any time of day, the most important aspect to exercising is picking a time that works with your schedule and aligns with your long-term fitness goals. In other words – something you can stick with.
If you plan your workouts for late afternoon on your way home from work, or school, but find yourself too tired or unmotivated, it’s time to try something new. Get up and exercise in the morning – and reset your body clock at the same time. The American Council on Exercise says people who work out in the morning are more consistent, and even exercise more often than those who work out at other times during the day.
A morning exercise routines kick start your metabolism meaning you’ll burn more calories throughout the day, helping you reach your weight loss goals. Another bonus to morning exercise – it’s out of the way! No guilty feelings at the end of the day.
Not a morning person? There are also benefits to a workout program later in the day – you’re already warmed up, you’ll be more flexible, and less prone to injury. Additionally, you’re already fueled up from lunch. You ate lunch, right? The key here is consistency, no matter what time of day you choose to exercise.
Up Close and Personal
For someone new to fitness training , getting started can be a daunting task. Enlist a personal trainer to help craft an exercise routine suited to your level and abilities – and time frame – it’s a great place to start.
These highly skilled fitness professionals possess in-depth knowledge of human physiology, nutrition, and the science behind physical fitness. They can also be great motivators. Committing to workout programs with a personal trainer several times a week can go a long way towards achieving your fitness goals.
If cost is an issue, work with a personal trainer who can craft a plan for you, then follow up again in 4 – 6 weeks for a re-evaluation. This helps ensure that you’re not overtraining, or doing the same workout for too long. The fitness coach will create a holistic program that includes aerobics, strength and flexibility training. This helps take the guesswork out of your routine and provides a solid foundation to build upon.
Working with your club’s dietitian can help you achieve your personal goals. To hold you accountable consider using MyFitnessPal, a terrific online resource that lets you journal your food intake, exercise output, and track your weight goals.
It’s a Marathon – Not a Sprint
Speaking of goals, when embarking on workout programs, it’s important to remember, It’s a marathon – not a sprint. You don’t have to crush records on your first day! Set realistic and attainable goals and over time you’ll begin to see your hard work pay off – without pain or injury.
Get Your Group On
One gym training program that is good to start with is group classes. Group exercise is a great way to stay consistent. Working out in a group environment is a terrific motivator. It’s fun, social, and physically rewarding to be part of supportive, like-minded team. That being said, not all group exercises are created equally.
Be sure to “shop around” for the right instructor and environment. If you’re just starting out, maybe that hard-core “boot camp” isn’t the right setting for you. Find a class that’s right for you, if you don’t like an instructor’s choice of music, don’t “connect” with their personality, or fitness approach, there are many more options to pick from.
In a group setting, be mindful of your physical limitations. If you have a shoulder impingement, lifting dumbbells overhead is not a good idea. In a group environment you must take ownership of your body and it’s limits. If you can’t perform the exercise check with your fitness coach for alternatives.
Try a cycle class, a Zumba class, or for the truly motivated, a boot camp class. But, keep in mind – the #1 rule about participating in group exercise is, don’t compare yourself to others.
The Big Pay Back
Committing to exercising, making the time, and showing up is hard work, but making an investment in your health is priceless. Reward yourself by also investing in workout clothes that make you feel good and keep you motivated – in other words – GO SHOPPING! Check your health club’s pro shop, they usually have member discounts. What a great way to show off all of your hard work.