I’m not what one would call “a natural athlete.” Growing up, I always chose arts and crafts over physical activity. My aversion to exercise carried over into high school, during which my mother wrote many notes excusing me from field hockey. It wasn’t until my twenties that I had my fitness epiphany. What turned my attitude around? I started going to the gym and quickly noticed that I felt stronger, leaner, calmer and more balanced. If you’re reluctant to exercise like I once was, taking the following approaches may convince you to break out your sneakers.
Find an exercise that suits your style.
At the start of my love affair with exercise, I gravitated toward aerobics. It sounds funny, but I was really inspired watching a perfectly aerobicized Jamie Lee Curtis in the film, “Perfect”. And I’ll admit it, Jennifer Beals’ off-the-shoulder sweatshirt in “Flashdance” made me want to sweat it out in a studio too. Think about the kind of exercise that excites you. If you love biking, try a spinning bike. If you’ve always been curious about yoga, visit a studio. (Many offer beginners’ classes at great rates.) And if you’re completely new to exercise, try brisk walking—it’s easy on the body and a good for you. When you have a natural interest in a type of exercise, you’re more likely to stick to it.
The fact that you may lead a busy life or have an erratic schedule shouldn’t deter you from starting a fitness regimen. While I believe in committing to an exercise program, I’m also a realist. On days that I don’t feel great or truly feel stretched, I make a point to “sneak” in exercise where I can. For example, I park my car a little further away than usual, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. The important thing is to just keep moving.
Switch up your routine.
If you eat the same thing every day, it can get very boring. The same goes for exercise. Keep yourself motivated to stay fit by varying your routine. If you’re maintaining a steady pace on the treadmill, try interval training. If you’re cycling a few days a week, supplement it with some weight lifting. Cross training like this not only keeps you from getting bored, but it also helps reduce the chances that you’ll overuse or injure one muscle or joint.
It’s amazing what a powerful motivator an upbeat song can be when you’re working out, which is why I stock my iPod with fast-paced music to keep me on the elliptical. (On my play list I currently have “Stronger” and “Gold Digger” by Kanye West). The time flies by, and I work out longer than I would if I were only listening to the sound of my own huffing and puffing. I also just figured out how to download my favorite television shows onto my iPod, so I’m counting on at least a solid half-hour of fat-burning, heart-healthy cardio, alongside a great storyline.