Tamra Christiansen, Director of Fitness and Wellness
Just like the human body, we like to be in a state of homeostasis: a balanced state of well-being. We like things to stay the same, but sometimes change is good. I venture to say that self-induced change is wonderful when it comes to fitness. Our bodies are designed to be as efficient as possible, so when we do the same thing over and over, our muscles seem to say, “Meh, I am just going to go through the motions.”
I taught Les Mills Body Pump for many years and they stated that when participants use the same release or routine for more than two to three weeks, they simply don’t work as hard; they go through the motions. Those classes are done to music and certain beats. Imagine if you are in your own routine in the Fitness Center on the machines: we might get caught up in “going through the motions.”
Being present in a workout doesn’t mean you have to meditate, though meditating has so many benefits for you, but that is for another article. Your workout is your ME time so use it to the fullest. As you are driving or walking to the Fitness Center, create a way to bring your mind to focus on what you will do during your workout. Let go of the calls, the lists, the extra thoughts. Think about how good it will feel to elevate your heart rate. Consider how much effort you are going to give yourself. If you are going to a Pilates class, think of how much strength and length your muscles are getting. If you are attending a cycle class, imagine how the beat is going to move your feet and legs. Gratitude is huge for our psyche. Ponder on gratitude for your health, that you have a beautiful place to work out and the things your body CAN do. Many focus on what is wrong with their bodies but there is so much we can do around any injury. This is before you even enter the gym!
During the workout, take a second to let go of your busy brain and focus on everything in your workout. Ask yourself, “Where can I challenge myself today? What do I need to scale back on? How is my energy? Did I hydrate before I started? What am I working?” Staying in your workout moment gives you the opportunity to know what body parts to warm up for the workout you are doing. And, while you are lifting or bringing up the heart rate on the cardio equipment, be “in” the muscles you’re working. It is proven that when one thinks about what they are working and where in their body they feel a particular move, two things will happen: you become more body aware and your muscles work that much harder because you have connected with them. Brain to muscle — neuromuscular awareness — creates better tone.
Next, I want to discuss varying your program. There is an ebb and flow to life — highs and lows, some days are easier, some harder; etc. Whether you have a seasonal or monthly set of workouts, your body appreciates the challenge. I have said it and I mean it: we are all athletes in our own way. Endurance athletes have seasons and different workouts throughout those times so that their body is challenged at peak times and has an appropriate amount of recovery for the next challenge ahead. Your body needs that kind of variance, too, even if for your golf season verses your pickleball season or your hunting season verses your ski season. Some do more ELDOA, yoga and stretching to gain more flexibility or calmer workouts in busy holiday seasons. Sometimes we have been practicing and working so hard, we just need to undo tangled and overworked muscles with flexibility and lighter workouts. Adding in or taking away can both be beneficial to your workout regimen. Others will take an extra strength class or add a second leg day prior to a ski trip.
One of the BEST reasons to change your routine is this: you will work harder and you will stick with your workouts. A huge factor in gym fallout is boredom. The moment your workout feels like a chore or feels too much like a routine, change it! For those who love a routine and don’t want to change their workout, good news — you can change how you do your routine. Try doing your workout timed rather than counting reps. Do set one for 60 seconds then make the second set heavier for 45 seconds. You can also change the order of your workouts. Try doing your workout as a circuit. Do a set to one song and incorporate cardio blasts into your routine. There are so many ways to make your workouts challenging, balanced, fun and most of all, continuous.
Our trainers and instructors are here to help motivate you in 2023! We are happy to set up a workout for you, even if it means that you practice a routine for a couple of months and change it up to shake it up.
Tamra Christiansen is the Fitness and Wellness Director at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 830.336.9184.