There are so many workout options that it can be hard to know where to start or how to begin. What workout is best? What will get you to your goal the fastest?
I’ve been exercising since I was on the cheerleading squad in middle school. Since then, I’ve have gone through many different types and styles. From cheerleading, I participated in soccer and swimming, and in the years that followed by periods of strength training and running.
Below, I’ve compiled four of my top tips on how to find the type of exercise that works best for you, so use this as a resource to help guide you in your own fitness journey.
TRY EVERYTHING ONCE (OR TWICE)
I love exercise. It’s so important for both my physical and mental health. It helps keep me grounded and focused. Because I love discovering new ways to break a sweat, I will try anything once. That means I’ve taken a LOT of different classes and different formats. Spinning, running, HIIT (which stands for high intensity interval training), yoga, swimming, pilates, barre, you name it, I’ve probably done it. Does that mean I like all of these formats? Not at all.
By trying everything out, I’m able to experience what my body likes and what I prefer to skip. I love workouts that leave me dead on the floor in a puddle of sweat like Crossfit and high intensity interval training do. And, although some people love them, I had to cross barre, Pilates, and yoga off my list. I will go with a friend occasionally, but it’s not a workout that I put all my effort into.
If you belong to a gym, try taking a variety of classes. If you’re in a city, try options like ClassPass or check with local studios to see if they offer any specials for first-time attendees.
MONITOR YOUR ENERGY LEVEL
How is your energy level both before and after your workouts? Do you get excited to go to that one class every week? Are you a SoulCycle fan who can’t wait for that class signup to open the day before? Are you willing to get up before the sun to get to that 6 a.m. class?
If you find yourself dreading a certain workout or just going through the motions, it may not be a format that you enjoy. I’m not only talking about physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Maybe yoga first thing in the morning helps to decrease your stress and set you up for a productive day. Find workouts that your body responds positively to and it will be easier to fit them into your schedule.
REFLECT ON HOW YOUR BODY FEELS
This is focused more on the physical reactions of our bodies. Do you feel strong after a workout? Are you improving your flexibility and posture through formats such as yoga, Pilates, or barre? Everyone has different exercise goals and your body will be the first one to let you know if you are on your way to achieving them.
Any aches or pains that are beyond the normal amount of muscle soreness associated with some workouts are a sign that your body is not happy. You may be working out too hard, your form might need to be corrected, or you may be developing an injury. Any negative messages your body is telling you may be an indication to talk to a doctor or other professional.
For example, if your knees are hurting every time you run a couple of miles, the elliptical machine or a bike may be a better option for you. Always check with a medical professional if you experience these negative symptoms.
ACCEPT THAT CHANGE IS OK
I’ve gone through phases with my workouts. A few years ago, I switched to running almost exclusively and ran three half marathons in 2015, but realized after a couple years of it that my heart wasn’t always in it. I continued to force myself to run until one day I actually listened to what my body was telling me.
Strength training and HIIT workouts have become my go-to this year. My shins and legs no longer hurt after plodding through miles of running that I wasn’t particularly enjoying. I love walking away from a workout feeling strong and capable and my body seems to respond best to these types of workouts. Your body will go through different phases and what works best for it now may not be the best workout format a year from now. As long as you keep the communication open with yourself, you’ll always have your answer.