Before I went full time into my Jump Rope career I spent a year working as a personal trainer. In case you don’t know what a personal trainer does I’ll fill you in really quick. Basically a trainer is there to help you with your workout (and give you the motivation to actually workout). If you’ve never been to a gym before you may be unaware of how certain pieces of equipment are supposed to work, a trainer will give you instruction on how these machines operate, proper exercise techniques, frequency of exercises, etc. Generally you hire one to work with you one-on-one to develop an exercise program that is tailored to your individual goals. Professional/high-end athletes will always have one to push them and guide them in the minute details of their workout so they’re on the top of their game. The average person usually gets one so they’ll have some workout motivation and actually go to the gym (or else they may get yelled at by some crazy drill sergeant wanna-be).
With that brief description out of the way, there are a number of things that you can learn from a trainer. I had the opportunity to work with a number of different people during my time at the gym and I have to be honest, not everyone ended up in great shape. You may think that’s not the best thing in the world to admit, but I believe there’s no better way to learn than to fail at times and boy did I learn a great lesson through this, Consistency is King.
The key that I found in working with a number of different people, and one that has been proven by countless others, is being consistent with your workout. Over Christmas I was helping my dad get into some weight training and one question he asked me was, which exercise should I do? I thought about it for a moment before answering, ‘whatever ones you will actually do’. You see, it’s not what exercises you can do, but what exercises you will do on a consistent basis. I’ve seen it in a number of people where they get into the gym, they’re ready to learn everything they can about working out because they’re going to lose weight. In almost every case you’d see the same person slacking off week after week because they never liked the exercises they were doing. It wasn’t long before you didn’t see them at the gym at all. The only way you’ll ever change is by being consistent. So how do you do it? Aren’t all forms of exercise awful? I don’t think so, below are some tips that I’ve come up with for staying consistent.
- Find something you like.
I don’t care who you talk to, everyone has exercises they hate doing. Unfortunately most people only learn a couple different types of exercises they can do and they get stuck doing ones they hate. It won’t take long for you to tire out and stop doing them. The nice thing about an exercise program is that there are so many different types available now. You should include both weight exercises and aerobic to get the maximum benefit from a workout. But don’t let those words scare you, aerobic exercise is any type that keeps your heart rate elevated for a period of 20+ minutes. You can run, bike, dance, step, swim, etc. and get an amazing aerobic workout. My personal favorite would be jump rope of course, but I love to unicycle (mountain and distance) and play racquetball. If you ask around, I’m sure you can find a class that piques your interest and won’t bore you to death. Weight exercises are typically done with free weights or machines, but did you know that you can also find resistance bands to do a lot of the same exercises? Ask a trainer about some different weight techniques and you’ll be surprised at all the options that are available. The big key with this is to pick something that you enjoy.
- Jam to the Music.
Studies have shown that music can help keep you interested in a workout far longer than if you try to do it quiet. Load some of your favorite tunes on your phone (or use a dedicated audio player) and workout to them. I personally prefer audio books (I know I’m weird), but I find that if I’m listening to something interesting I forget about how long I’m spending doing stuff. Find what works for you and get to it!
- Schedule it.
If your excuse for not working out has been that you don’t have the time or that you don’t feel like it, guess what, nobody does. Most things in life that are worth doing require you to make a commitment to doing them. I tell students in my assembly programs that most of the time you won’t feel like practicing, but you have to make the choice to do it anyway. Get a calendar, choose what days you’re going to workout and stick to it! Some people are very militaristic in how they schedule their workout sessions, if that’s what you do, go for it, I personally am better at being flexible with my schedule. I’ll pick which day I’m going to workout, but I don’t give myself a specific time as situations come up that will make me alter my plans. Sometimes I do it in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, rarely do I go at night, but if it’s my day, I gotta go. Make a schedule and keep to it! If you need visual reminders get a mega-sized calendar and write what days of the week you’re going, set up reminders on your computer or phone, tell your spouse to remind you (this one works great most of the time), find what works for you, but make sure you remember.
- Team Up.
Working out is always easier with a friend. If you make a commitment to work out with someone you’re more likely to be there. Maybe you don’t know someone who wants to go, one thing I used to do was go to the gym, start talking to people and it’s not hard to find a workout partner. Maybe you’ll take a friend, your spouse, your dog (if you hate the idea of a gym or want to start small, walking is a great exercise and your dog will love it too), find someone and go it together. The gym I used to work at had a group of us that would be in there at 5:30 every morning, it was always the same group and we actually turned into a sort of small family. People would check up on you if you missed, we’d go out to eat breakfast once a month, it was a great group. Team up and you’ll find keeping to your exercise plan a lot easier.
- Chocolate is King.
At least that’s what my wife used to tell me (she has since gotten away from it and prefers goat cheese). I’m personally a fan of smoothies and cereal, but hey, whatever floats your boat. If you stick to your plan, reward yourself. Anyone who has worked with kids (I don’t have my own, but they tell me it’s the same) will tell you that positive reinforcement works a lot better than punishment. If you view your workout as some sort of punishment, it’s hard to keep at it. You’ll find any reason you can to give up and quit. A great way to stick to it is to reward yourself on a regular basis. Maybe you’ll have a special dessert, maybe you can go out to a movie, maybe your spouse will agree to do all your chores. Come up with some sort of reward system for sticking to your exercise plan and don’t forget to use it! I spend a lot of time flying and I find it interesting how many unused frequent flier miles there are. I love free trips and all this business travel eventually gives me some sort of reward, your workout needs the same thing. You should have a lot of small rewards that you get and maybe make a big one for every 3 months, 6 months or year that you stick to your plan. Positive reinforcement can go a long way to helping you reach your fitness goals.
As you can see there are a number of things you can use for workout motivation. Maybe you have some more that you would like to share, fill out the comment form below and let me know what you do to keep to your workout fresh and exciting. Exercise is fun, but every person defines fun a little different, make sure you take time to figure out what way is best for you. If you need ideas and no one around you seems to know, invest in a couple sessions with a certified personal trainer, a good one can help you find just the right thing.