Most days I work out in a class format of some sort- be it Baby Boot Camp, Pilates or even Insanity- I have someone telling me what to do- which is just how I like it. When it comes to working out and lifting weights, I know what to do and how to do it, but for my own workouts I like someone telling me what to do and find motivation working out with others.
Yesterday I was faced with a challenge that I anticipate many of you have- how to make a solo gym workout fun and tough. I had an instructor training to attend and an hour to kill before it started, so I figured I would use that time to get my workout in. There were no classes going on at the time so I went onto the gym floor and for a moment fought the urge to go wander the aisles at the Target next door to kill time. Instead, I hopped on the stair climber machine and started with the step.step.step.step. Five minutes in I wanted to shoot myself. How do people do this? No wonder most people don’t stick with their workout routines.
First thing first- I took my iPhone out and put it on Pandora. One of my favorite apps is Pandora, and one of my favorite mixes is the LMFAO mix. It is upbeat, fun and keeps me going on outdoor runs. Once my music was in order, I took a few moments and really thought about what I wanted to get out of the next hour. What a precious gift of time- why waste it? I decided I really wanted to do some cardio to burn off a weekend worth of wedding calories and spend a little time at the end lifting some weights.
My first challenge was my cardio. How to make a stationary machine in the gym fun? I put forth a challenge to myself. I got back on the stairclimber and found a pace that was tough but doable- a pace that I could do while chatting with a friend. That was my recovery pace. Then, I started doing 4 minute intervals at double the pace. I switched up my climb- changing my lead foot by slightly turning my body on the stair climber and leading with my right leg for a minute, then left. Then for the other two minutes I challenged myself to not hold onto the arm rests and step with high knees. It was tough! I did 3 sets of 4 minute intervals and rested for a couple minutes between each interval. Each time I did an interval I upped the pace by 1. By the third interval my legs were burning, I was definitely out of breath and I was proud of myself for making this fun instead of zoning out watching the TV in front of the machine while putting in my regular 30 minutes on the machine. After about 25 minutes, I had burned almost 300 calories and felt great.
As I stepped off and wiped it down, my next challenge faced me. What muscle group did I want to work? How did I want to do this- super sets? Pyramid sets? I decided that my legs were tired so I would concentrate my efforts on my back muscles and biceps. After figuring out which exercises I would do, I challenged myself to lift enough weight so the last 2 reps of my 15 rep set were nearly impossible and I only gave myself 60 seconds of rest between each set. That way, I kept my calorie burning up as I lifted because my heart rate stayed elevated.
After I finished with that, I went and stretched and threw in some plank work on the mat while using a Swiss ball to challenge myself. I gotta say, I went into that workout barely interested in doing much and left it feeling fantastic. I even woke up a little sore this morning from the weights- and I always like feeling a little sore the day after!
I blog this to remind you- like everything else, have a plan when it comes to your workout. If you are like me and like taking classes- the plan is mostly done for you. However, it is important that you go into your class focused on giving it 100%, using great form and maximizing your calorie burn. If it is a gym workout like I had- decide ahead what muscles you want to workout and how you will make that stationary machine fun and give you a workout.
Any ideas on how else to make the gym workout more fun? Post them here, I want to get back and do that again soon!