You may have heard the saying: “the best exercise is the one that you actually do.” Exercise may not always seem like fun, especially if you are just starting out and haven’t found a workout routine that inspires you yet. However, exercise can become an activity that is an enjoyable and satisfying routine in your daily life. All it takes is a little creativity and resourcefulness to find what works best for your particular situation.
Put success in your way
Different people prefer different times of the day to do their exercise. It is less important when you exercise, and more important that you just do it. It doesn’t matter if you prefer first thing in the morning, during a lunch break, or directly after leaving work. What matters most is that you stick with a non-negotiable scheduled routine. Your decision to exercise needs to become an automatic response to the point where you don’t even have to think about going or not going, you just go.
Set yourself up for success by having your gym shoes and gym bag ready and waiting in a convenient location, so convenient that you almost literally trip over it, such as: next to your bed, next to your desk, in front of the television, or even by the refrigerator. Remember that getting to the gym, or even just lacing up your shoes, is half the battle. Actually doing the exercise then follows more naturally.
Creativity is closely tied to resourcefulness, the art of making the best of what is available to you. If you don’t have the right equipment or if you can’t afford the best gym or trainers, then use what you do have: go to the library to borrow a book or video; go to the mall and look for fitness videos that are on clearance or for sale as used. If you can’t afford a trainer twice a week, then instead, do your research and consult with a trainer once a month. Other ideas to get yourself moving include: offering to walk a neighbor’s pet; walking at the mall or around your neighborhood; jumping rope; or learning to dance with YouTube videos.
While exercise can easily be a do-it-yourself activity, you will want to get some expert opinion along the way, if even just to observe your activity once in a while to make sure your form and routine is safe, appropriate, and efficient to get you the results you want.
Playing With Time
Don’t forget to stimulate your mind while exercising your body, too. You can do this by listening to music or watching a television program or movie while doing a more monotonous cardio routine. Though, you will find it to be most effective if you are focused on the actual activity you are participating in instead of distracting yourself from it.
When using those more “boring” cardio-machines, spice it up by challenging yourself. Go faster, further, harder, and burn more calories per minute, all in the same workout. For example, target a distance goal first. Hit that, then push a little further by then shooting to hit the next round time marker, e.g. the next 2 minute, 5 minute, or 10 minute marker, etc.
Follow that by then targeting a round calorie per workout number. Essentially, as each goal is hit, target the next round number goal based on a different metric. This is the best way to keep pushing yourself to do more than you originally thought you could or wanted to do. You don’t need a trainer for cardio if you can push yourself in this way.
Playing with Equipment (Safely)
In a gym, a common warning is that the equipment should only be used after proper instructions on usage is received. This warning is not just for insurance purposes. While it is mostly to avoid injury, it is equally important so that you get the most effective workout from that exercise. You want to make sure you are activating the right muscles with the right activities and avoid causing unnatural imbalances or range of motion issues.
Once you understand the principles of good form, then you can begin to experiment with different ways to achieve those same movements in other environments or with other equipment, especially if you don’t always have the same equipment and facilities readily available to you. Often, simple natural body weight calisthenics, or even a jump rope or exercise band, or water-filled-for-weight jug is all you need to get in strength training, cardio training, and flexibility drills almost anywhere you are.
Playing with Space
The main caveat with being creative in your workout choices is that good form and a safe workout environment needs to be maintained. You don’t want to be in a space where movements will knock things over, where anything will fall on you, or where you are vulnerable to other people’s carelessness. Also, you want to be in a clean, well ventilated, and unobstructed area, so you are not forced into compromising your movement or inadvertently creating injury-causing form breaks.
Taking the time to create an exercise routine that is equally fun, satisfying and sustainable based on your particular needs is something well worth the effort. Your only regret would be not getting started sooner.