You put on your sweatpants and baggy T-shirt. Throw your hair up into a ponytail and wipe the make-up off your face. You fill your water bottle and head to the nearest elliptical. Headphones in, you tune out the world, focusing on the show you're watching or that new song you downloaded. You set your sights on the console and the clock, watching the numbers—calories, time, and distance—tick up until you've hit your goal on one (or maybe all three). Get in and get out, that's what the gym is to you. You're not there to talk or make friends. You're just there to get through your routine and go home.
But what if I told you that going to the gym could—and should—be a little more fulfilling? The truth is that having an affair at the gym happens more than you might think. It can change your mind and your body—and how you feel about yourself. If you've been going through the motions lately, feeling uninspired or tied down, then break free from monogamy and bring the excitement back with an affair!
Am I talking about "50 Shades of Gym"? No, but I have your attention now, right? I'm referring to exercise monogamy: using the same machine, taking the same class, or doing the same strength moves day after day after day. If this sounds like you, then it's time to cheat on your routine.
If you just lie there (in Pilates class!) waiting for it to be over, something's gotta give. If other instructors or moves are catching your eye but you've felt too scared, unfit, nervous, or intimidated to try them, it's time to cast aside your doubts and just do it. In fitness and in life, variety is what spices things up and keeps us interested and excited. Your mind loves novelty—and so does your body.
Here are 4 reasons why you should "cheat" at the gym:
If you're married to your routine, consider whether that commitment is really serving you and your goals. If not, give in to your wandering eye and try that Zumba class you've been spying or that rower machine that looked intriguing. When it comes to your workouts, a little cheating never hurt anyone. In fact, it's been known to help!
- Mixing things up prevents boredom. While most people are creatures of habit, exercise is one of those things where variety tends to keep people coming back consistently. Sure "routine" is important. But think of routine as more of where you go and when—not exactly WHAT you have to do when you're there. I mean, you can only do a single workout DVD so many times—no matter how much you love it—before you can recite every word out of the trainers mouth and start thinking that the little joke s/he told at minute 5 is more irritating than funny. In fitness classes, instructors change up the routines all the time. That's part of the fun! You don't need a trainer or class or DVD to mix things up. For ideas on how or what to do, use these resources:
Habits of Fit People: Mix It Up
Ideas to Bust Your Fitness Plateau
3 Ways to Refresh Your Treadmill Workout
Break Free from Your Cardio Rut
- Variety unleashes your best body. Even athletes who specialize in a single sport cross-train and use a variety of exercise types to stay in tip-top shape. Your body is a smart and efficient machine. While program #3 on the treadmill may have been challenging when you tried it the first time a few weeks ago, your body knows better. It is no longer challenged. The more you can move your body in different angles and direction and at different speeds and intensity levels, the more your body will be "shocked" and continue to respond by getting stronger, leaner and fitter. It won't have time to get used to things (think: plateau) if those things are always different.
- Trying new things builds your confidence. This isn't something that's just important for teenagers, as high school health class may have led us to believe. So many adults suffer from low self-esteem and confidence. While some of that can be attributed to how you feel about your weight or body shape, it comes through at work, at home, and in everything you do. In my experience, exercise is one of the most overlooked confidence-building tools. When you try new things and see yourself improving, you feel good about yourself—no matter what the scale says or what anyone else tells you. Sure, it can be intimidating at first to try that group class and feel like "the only one" who struggled or couldn't keep up. But even that experience is helpful in building your character. And if you had fun and enjoyed it, all the better. The more things you can try through exercise—whether you fail miserably at them or master them—the better you'll be at trying, failing, succeeding, learning, and feeling confident in other areas.
- The novelty will take your breath away. New things challenge your body in new ways—and will have you huffing and puffing, which means you are once again challenging yourself (that's a good thing) in a way that your previous workout routine may not. In fitness, you do have to consistently push yourself a little harder (faster speed, greater resistance, longer workouts) in order to continue seeing progress. So if you're a little hesitant to change things up completely, you can get your feet wet by upping the ante on your intensity.
Happy April Fool's Day, everyone! I hope you enjoyed the little tease and humor of this blog--all in good fun!
4 Signs It's Time to Change Your Workout Routine
8 Reasons Why Your Workout Isn't Working
Are you guilty of a monogamous fitness relationship? When was the last time you had an affair on your routine? Did it turn out to be a good thing?