If you want to start working out, or change up what you’re doing now, you have a lot of options to choose from. In addition to the branded trends – Crossfit, Pilates, Zumba – you have cardio machines at the gym, outdoor sports, every kind of weight training
Should you take Pilates or run a mud race? Sign up for Zumba or buy a treadmill for your basement? What’s the best workout?
There’s no right answer to this question. Fortunately, there’s no wrong answer either. Anything you do that gets your body moving, raises your heart rate and challenges your muscles is ten billion times better than sitting on the couch eating tortilla chips.
That said, there are a lot of choices out there, and the first step in getting off that couch is figuring out what yours will be. So here’s a plan for you to get yourself moving and hit those fitness goals of feeling and looking better.
Set your objectives
Do you want to lose weight? Look better? Protect yourself from injury? Chances are your answer will be all of the above, and the good news is, any fitness plan will move you towards all those ends. However, it will really help you if you decide on one primary goal, because you’re going to use that to create a program with maximum return on investment.
Find the best means to the end
If cardio is your focus, think about what you enjoy most. Do you like being outside? Or is choreographed dancing more your style? While it’s possible that you could equally enjoy trail running and Zumba, it’s more likely that one of them will appeal more to you than the other. Once you’ve figured that out, you will better understand what kind of workouts are going to be the easiest for you to stick to.
Embrace your inner Hulk
Accept right now that you are going to weight train. No matter what your goals are, increasing your muscular strength should be a part of your workouts. There are so many advantages! You’ll feel better. You’ll look better. Everything you do during the day will become easier. You will be more resistant to injury. You will keep weight off more easily! All that said, you do need to work with someone who can show you how to handle weights and position yourself to avoid injury. This isn’t something to jump into without any guidance.
Schedule your workouts
Planning to work out “when you have time” is a giant path to failure. Gyms grow fat and rich on the memberships of people who never show up. Don’t be one of those people. I had to become an instructor to get myself to stop flaking on workouts – when you’re the teacher, you have to show up – but you can do better. Put it on your calendar and lock it in. Your fitness is as important as pretty much anything else you have on your schedule.
Notice the difference
It will take a little bit of time, but one day something really nice will happen. For me, it happened on a hot summer day when I jumped in a pool and started doing laps. As I pulled my arms through the water, I suddenly realized I was much stronger than I’d ever been. It felt completely different to swim – and it felt great. For you it might happen when you’re lifting your toddler into their car seat, or walking up the stairs to your office. You will realize you’re stronger, or have more endurance or flexibility. And that is the moment when you’ll be hooked.
So what is the best workout for your body? Ultimately, it’s the one that you’ll do. There’s a lot out there, and it’s all good. Try lots of things, keep what appeals to you and drop what you don’t care for. Keep it balanced – cardio, strength, flexibility – with a focus on what your first priority is. If you find something you love, feel lucky! And remember that every minute spent away from the couch (and those tortilla chips) is a minute you’ve given as a gift to yourself.