Human beings are creatures of habit. Most of us find comfort in consistency, at least to some degree. Making exercise a consistent habit is one of the best things you can do for yourself. But – when it comes to exercise, having a habit is good, but repeating the same workouts over and over often isn’t. The solution: try something new!
Until you experience a new activity or sport for yourself, there’s no way to know whether or not it’s for you. Take a chance and give it a go, and don’t discount something because you feel you “can’t do it.” Every worthwhile fitness modality has modifications for beginners. And remember that everyone who does it well now, was once a beginner too.
The goal is to experiment, explore and most importantly, have fun! Read on for more reasons why it’s smart to try something new.
Find a favorite, build a habit
If you want to make a habit of exercising, find one or two types of complementary exercises you love to do. If you’re exploring the world of exercise for the first time and you’re finding it hard to stay motivated, experiencing all kinds of workouts will help you find a favorite fitness activity. Nobody stays motivated 100% of the time, but the most successful exercisers are often able to keep up their routines because they’ve found a favorite activity that they always come away from feeling great.
Exercise formats that involve others may also be appealing and motivating. You get to know the others in the group and it’s fun to see each other at every session. Any kind of group fitness has this benefit: Zumba, Body Pump, yoga, and indoor cycling are some of my personal favorites. If you’re competitively inclined, there’s tennis, volleyball, or the wildly popular pickle ball!
If group activities aren’t your thing, the myriad options for strength training are all available to you. If you’re brand new to it, I’d strongly recommend working with a personal trainer to learn the correct form and help you plan out how to progress (more on this below) instead of working out with a generic exercise app or videos. But there are lots of great virtual options for yoga and indoor cycling.
Don’t like the gym? Especially in this age of COVID19, working out at home has seen a tremendous resurgence. Read The Joys of Working Out at Home for more on this.
Bump up the intensity to progress
If you’ve built a healthy exercise habit, kudos to you! But if you’ve been working out four to five times per week for some time and aren’t seeing the results you want, you may need to change things up.
It’s easy to fall into a pattern of doing the same kinds of exercises, at the same intensity, for months at a time. If your workouts have started to feel relatively easy, it means your body is ready for more. In order to progress, your body needs an increase in intensity. (Read more about how the body responds to exercise here.)
Compared to moderate-level exercise, like treadmill walking or steady pedaling a stationary bike, higher intensity workouts will raise your heart rate – which in turn burns more calories. The perfect way to do this? Try a new exercise format! You’ll be learning new movement patterns, challenging your muscles in new ways. If you’ve primarily worked out with weights, try some of these strength training modalities for a new challenge:
TRX (just a teaser for now):
Add some excitement
Trying a new exercise format will shake things up mentally as well as physically. We all have our favorite activities, but no matter how much you love to run, if it’s the only thing you do all of the time, it can lead to burnout, boredom, and even injury (more on this below).
Taking a break from your regular routine will refresh your body and mind. Looking forward to a new type of exercise will also reignite your excitement for fitness.
When you repeat the same motions over and over again (think swimming, running, cycling, and repetitive weight-lifting exercises), you become prone to overuse injuries. To truly challenge your body while keeping all your muscles, tendons and ligaments working optimally, it’s important to practice many different movement patterns.
So mix it up! If you have a favorite activity you do regularly, try something new that works muscles you aren’t using. For instance, if your workouts are mostly lower-body focused (running, cycling, aerobics) then add in some strength training that focuses on your arms, chest, back, and core.
If strength training is already your thing, try some activities that elevate your heart rate: circuit training, rowing, aerobics, indoor or outdoor cycling.
No matter what your activity, everyone benefits from added flexibility. Yoga is the absolute best for this. Think you’re too inflexible or don’t have the right body type? Not to worry – yoga is for everyone, not just the super-skinny hyper-flexible types you see in magazines!
So say you did ballet bare workouts for a month and hated it (me: guilty!) But maybe you also learned some new moves you can incorporate into your own routine in a more enjoyable way. Trying out a new type of exercise doesn’t mean a lifetime commitment. The goal is to experiment, explore and most importantly, have fun!
As a fitness coach, I help keep exercise fun and challenging for my clients through live virtual and online guided formats. We try out all kinds of exercises and find the ones that they love best – dumbbells, resistance bands, TRX, stability ball, kettlebells, and even indoor cycling and interval training set to music. And all from the privacy of your own home!
Want to explore some new activities? Reach out to me here and let’s have a conversation!