Coach Nicole Reveals Her Workout Routine

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Most fitness experts and trainers have super-toned bodies that are sculpted (I can only assume) by many hours in the gym. How do they do it? How much time do they really spend working out?

I can't speak for them, but I can tell you what I do to stay in shape. My routine isn't crazy or impossible—it's pretty balanced. I'm always preaching about the importance of moderation and that is what I strive for when I work out. For me, it's not about how many calories I burn (in fact, I don't pay any attention to that), and it's not about trying to look better (although it's a nice perk, I've learned that focusing on the fitness instead of my appearance yields better results). It's about strengthening my heart, muscles, and bones. It's about feeling better about myself, maintaining a healthy body weight, and setting aside a small amount of time for myself in a day that's otherwise full of helping others. In fact, I exercise for all of the same reasons as most of you. So are you ready to see what my weekly routine is like?

As a full-time SparkPeople editor, my days revolve around deadlines and schedules. That's OK—I need the structure. But when it comes to my workouts, I keep things flexible. Rather than forcing myself to stick to a specific workout time or a certain workout on a certain day, I set a general rule that I will exercise, but I decide what to do that day on a whim most of the time!

No matter what, I meet these fitness goals over the course of the week:

  • Cardio: At least 4 days, lasting 10 minutes per session minimum. Typically, I'll work out for 30-60 minutes during each session. Spinning (indoor cycling class) is my workout staple, not because it burns the most calories. I do it simply because I think it's fun. But being that I am a fitness expert, I know it's best to change it up a bit, which is the only reason I also walk, use DVDs at home, hop on the elliptical, and jog on the treadmill or outside (weather permitting). I like to exercise at a variety of intensity levels—sometimes high intensity sprints, sometimes moderate, and sometimes easy breezy. All aerobic heart rates offer benefits, and I think that a variety is best—you can't expect your body to perform at a high intensity all the time, just as you can't expect to achieve a high level of fitness with low-intensity workouts alone.

  • Strength Training: At least 3 days. I'm always changing up my strength training routine because I get bored easily. I like to do a combination of body weight, light resistance and heavy resistance exercises because I believe that all of these strength-training techniques are beneficial and work your muscles and joints in different ways. Mat Pilates is my go-to strength training routine (twice a week), but I also include at least one other day of more traditional strength training—either light resistance/high rep work (Pilates Reformer, bands, hand weights) or heavy weights in the gym. I do different exercises every time because I get bored doing the same routine day in and day out. Usually, I don't even have a plan—I just look at what I've done during the week and try to balance it out with things that I haven't already done, hitting all of the major muscle groups.

  • Flexibility: Every time I work out. I spend 5-10 minutes stretching at the end of my workout—every time, no matter what.

  • A total of 5 days of exercise per week. I like to take two days off—usually Fridays and Saturdays. Because I like to be somewhat spontaneous with my workouts, I don't plan when I'll take my rest days—I sort of go based on how I feel. Knowing that I don't like to exercise on the weekends motivates me to meet all of my fitness goals for the week during the first 5 days of the week so that I don't HAVE to work out on the weekends unless I really WANT to.

So what does that really look like over the course of a week? It ends up looking like 5-7 days of exercise, usually totaling around 60 minutes per day. Sometimes I do just cardio in a day. Sometimes I do cardio and strength training. Other days I do a short, focused workout because I don't want to spend a lot of time exercising. And most often, I exercise in the evening after work (I am NOT a morning person).

I'm 100% flexible on what workout I do on any given day of the week, and I always have a backup plan. I tend to pack my gym bag so that I'll be ready for anything, but if the day wears on and I just want to go home, that's exactly what I do. As long as I'm meeting my general goals above by the time the week is over, I really don't care exactly how I get there!

OK so I know that what you really want to see is exactly how this breaks down on a daily and weekly basis. So, referring to my handy tracking calendar (that I love so much!), here are the actual workouts I did during a recent week:

  • Sunday: Spinning class (60 minutes): cardio and flexibility
  • Monday: Mat Pilates class (45 minutes) and running outdoors (40 minutes): cardio, strength and flexibility
  • Tuesday: Pilates Reformer (60 minutes): strength and flexibility
  • Wednesday: No exercise
  • Thursday: Mat Pilates class (60 minutes): strength and flexibility
  • Friday: Spinning class (45 minutes) and kettlebell workout at home (20 minutes): cardio, strength and flexibility
  • Saturday: Brisk walk outside (60 minutes): cardio and flexibility

Over the course of the week, I keep my weekly goals in mind and make sure I meet them. After each week, I can look back and analyze what I did and make sure I'm keeping things balanced. For example, I didn't lift any weights in the gym in this sample week, so I'd make sure to do more of that the following week.

I hope this goes to show that you don't have to be a marathon runner, yoga enthusiast, or gym rat to attain a well-rounded fitness program or be a fit, healthy person. There is no right or wrong way to do it—as long as you're sticking with a routine that works for YOU!

Does it help you to see how the "experts" really eat and exercise? What does your weekly fitness routine look like? Tell us below!