First, let’s discuss motivation and exercise. Some of us love the gym, some of us “like” the gym, some of us tolerate it, and some of us hate it. At the end of the day, you must be motivated to exercise, whether it is based on the type of exercise you do, the instructor or trainer you see, or even the venue in which you exercise (e.g., a run in the park, dance class, or gym). A friend of mine recently shared a story about someone she knows who has a weight issue and does not go to the gym. However, she noticed this friend loves to dance, as evidenced by her shaking her moves at a wedding and her smile from ear to ear while doing it. Imagine if this person took dance classes!
Personally, I am motivated by the venue, trainer, and the high I get from being at the gym. I used to avoid classes and simply ran and did weights on my own. Then, I joined a new gym where the instructors are the best I have ever seen. They motivate me to work harder than I knew I could, and it is obvious they teach because they love it and believe in it, rather than going as a side job because they need extra cash.
I do agree with my friend who made the suggestion of dance classes for her friend. At the end of the day, it is all about moving your body and finding what motivates you to do so. I have another friend who fell in love with Zumba so much so that she recently started a Zumba studio in New York City. However, it is not just a “place where people Zumba.” One friend recently described it as “a happy place. The energy of the crowd is amazing!” Additionally, the studio holds Zumba events where a profits from the class go to a charity. Check it out – Z Club NY.
Now it is time for a reality check. Perhaps you are getting exercise, but are not getting the results you want. Below are a few questions you should ask yourself – and be honest!
- Are you motivated? As described above, if you don’t enjoy what you are doing, you will find any and every excuse in the book to avoid it. Rather than create that unnecessary pain, just admit to yourself what you like and don’t like, and do what you like!
- Are you exercising regularly? It is important to be on a routine where you “get your body moving” several times a week, whether it is walking, running, dancing, and/or lifting weights.
- Are you doing the right exercises and the right frequency? You know what you want to achieve and you know whether you are getting there. For example, if you want to lose weight, you should eat right (remember, one pound of fat is 3,600 calories) and do the appropriate exercises to achieve this goal. To determine the calories you are burning, the most accurate way is to invest in a heart rate monitor. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, websites exist that tell you the approximate number of calories burned during a given exercise, but they won’t know how hard you are working, so the online tools are just that – estimates.
- Have you changed your routine? Over time, your body will get used to the workout you are doing if you have not changed it, meaning it won’t be giving you the same benefits it did early on. Thus, be sure to change up your routine – whether it is frequency and/or the types of exercises you are doing – every few months. It is also a fun way to mitigate boredom.
- Have you increased the weights you have been using? It is true that as women, we probably don’t want bulky arms and legs. However, there does come a time when you should increase the weights you are using. If you think you can’t just try! I recently increased the weight level I was using and was shocked I could get through the routine, and within weeks, I benefited from defined shoulders. Who knew!?
- Are you challenging yourself? When I first think of this question, I immediately think of that man on the bike reading his newspaper, barely peddling. If you are doing anything remotely like this, get rid of the paper, or just go home and read it. You are not doing yourself any favors. I then think to the other extreme of challenging yourself to go beyond what you thought you could do. Imagine accomplishing the smallest of goals (e.g., running one mile rather than not at all, increasing weights, learning a new dance move, simply surviving that class you never thought you could). Now, imagine how that will build your confidence over time, and perhaps even increase your motivation!
Feel free to share with us any creative ideas or experiences you have had regarding exercise.