I have never really been one to look forward to exercise. I’ve never been good at competitive sports, and sweating just isn’t my thing. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of exercise. By my senior year of college, I was a regular at group fitness classes (dubbed “Texercise”), I went on semi-regular jogs, and I even took a cardiovascular and weight training PE class for credit.
Flash forward one year later…
Not exactly fitness inducing weather. While I have been able to go for some scenic jogs around my new city, and even participate in a 5K, winter in Boston isn’t calling me outdoors. So what’s a girl to do? The group fitness classes that I grew to love (okay, like) in Austin are an option, albeit, a pricey one. And on top of working 4 days a week and taking graduate courses, I don’t have the luxury to pick from a variety of classes like I did in college. My only workout options are before work, after work (only on non class days), and weekends.
Enter these guys…
I decided to give work out DVDs a try before work. The workouts I choose last between 35-45 minutes. It’s enough time to work up a sweat and lift my mood, without wearing me out so much that I am tired throughout the day. The purpose is to energize me at work and to start my morning in a healthy frame of mind. The yoga DVD (Jillian Michaels, 2nd from top) is great for small spaces (see below), and doesn’t require any additional weights. The top DVD has a kickboxing segment that I really enjoy, even though it is a bit of a tight squeeze in my small room. I like workout DVDs because they are an inexpensive way to get guided fitness training, without the hassle of transportation to and from classes, or having to work around a busy schedule.
This is my setup. I usually work out barefoot, as a small gesture of kindness towards whoever lives below me. Morning exercise is new to me, so here are my tips to make it work:
- Go to bed on time. If I am ever tempted to turn off the alarm and go back to sleep, it is not because I am bored by my workout, it is because I am tired. Aim for 7-8 hours each night for optimal performance.
- Don’t make it optional. Decide that you are going to workout, and then follow through. Don’t leave it up to the condition of whether or not you will feel like it. Don’t give yourself a choice to stay in bed. Turning on my bedside lamp when my alarm goes off is a signal to myself to get moving.
- Prepare the night before. Before you go to bed, clear out your workout space and set out your DVD and a water bottle. It also helps to sleep in your workout clothes. I sleep in a sports bra, T shirt, and Nike shorts each night, so that I am ready to get moving in the morning.
Also, just in case you were wondering, I eat breakfast AFTER my workout because 1) multiple studies (here and here) have shown that exercising on an empty stomach burns more fat, and 2) I’m not doing anything that requires an intense amount of fuel or endurance. I will say that this approach is not for everyone, particularly not endurance athletes. For more on sports nutrition, I highly recommend Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.
What are your secrets to a successful fitness routine? Are you a morning warrior, or do you prefer a different time of day? Also, if you know of any good YouTube workout routines, or other fitness DVDs suitable for small spaces, do tell!