Tag Archives: Gym

#1 New Year’s Resolution and Why People Fail to Achieve It

Time and time again, we see that “getting fit” or “losing weight” makes it to the top of New Year’s resolution lists. Sure, getting out of debt, spending more time with family and staying more organized also make the list, but exercise seems to appear and reappear as a resolution. This redundant theme suggests that we’re not on the mark. We’re not successfully integrating exercise into our lives. Why?

resolutions

Fitness industry attrition rates are pretty darn stinkin’ high. As many as 30-40% of gym-goers cancel their memberships every year. As a fitness professional, I can testify that a lot of these cancellations are because of inappropriate goal setting and expectations.

To kick-start 2016, let’s jump over the hurdles that cause us to fail. Let’s learn some lessons, once and for all, so that maybe…just maybe…next year all you have to be concerned about is organizing your closet and squeezing in an extra weekend visit with your favorite aunt. Maybe she will help you monogram that tote bag you found stuffed behind a pile of old boots?


EXERCISE GOAL SETTING MISTAKES

Mistake #1: Too High in the Sky

You’ve been a self-proclaimed couch potato for the majority of your life. You like to rotate between work, happy hour and your comfy sofa, in that order, most days of the week. After noticing that your tummy has recently begun to spill out and over the waist of your jeans, you’ve decided that a new gym routine is a must. You resolve to workout a solid 5x/week and envision that by early spring you will be sitting on a beach somewhere south of the equator, donning a string bikini to show off your taut stomach. Of course, you will also be sipping a well-deserved margarita by then too.

You’ve seen clips from workout videos and gym advertisements. The people in them look sweaty but they’re also smiling and kicking butt! How hard can it be, right? You just know that you will be one of them in a matter of weeks.

And then…oh dear, then you face the music. After kicking off your new routine with boot camp on Monday morning, Pilates on Tuesday evening, and an early and exhausting cycle class on Wednesday, you can hardly believe you still have two workouts to go (and you’d prefer to fit them in before the weekend). Your legs are so tired that you’re breathless walking up the stairs when you get home. In short, this bites. Why did you ever venture away from your satisfying remote control, TV and iPad combination?

This is the old, “overcommit then quit” scenario. Your ideals were just a tad too high in the sky from the start. When you begin a new routine, it has to be manageable for what your body and lifestyle can handle. Most people can’t go from zero to 100 on week one. Even if you can manage to find the time and motivation to workout 5x/week at the outset, the workouts will need to be gentle or involve recovery days in order to build up your stamina and tolerance. Sadly, even though a lot of clever advertisers would like you to think differently, you can’t hit the ground running with a boot camp style workout every day. Anyone who says that you can have the body of your dreams in 21 days is just trying to get you to open your wallet. No joke. 

high in the sky

Tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Envision your ultimate goal. For example, working out 5x/week to help with weight loss and toning. Now, think about what a realistic starting point is.
  • Don’t assume you will start at your end game. In other words, set the bar low in the beginning so that you can achieve success early on. For example, aim to get into the gym 2x/week for two weeks. On week three, bump it up to 3x/week for three weeks. Keep progressing until you’re in a full routine and are feeling physically capable of handling it all.
  • If you can’t always hit your goal week after week, don’t give up or consider yourself a failure. If springtime rolls around and you aren’t where you’d like to be, think critically about how you can motivate to get started on your goals or can modify them to be more realistic. It’s better than waiting until next January, that’s for sure! And it’s WAY better than quitting altogether. Do you really want to feel the guilt of discarding your goals and progress, only to pick up the same mind-numbing and frustrating cycle down the line? Didn’t think so…

 

Mistake #2: Vague Goals Yield Uncertain Results

“I want to lose weight in 2016.”

Oh, you do?! Welcome to club. So does everyone. Sadly, proclaiming this doesn’t mean peanuts.

The problem with vague goals is that they don’t have any oomph or substance to back them up. It’s like a high school senior saying “I want to go to college.” Great! Now what?! Has she taken the SATs? Has she looked at school options? Does she know whether or not her parents are prepared to help her financially or if she will have to take out loans? Saying she wants to go is only a very small part of the process.

Of course, there is power in knowing what you want. Vocalizing your intentions to supportive friends and family can even help put you on the path towards success; however, you have to have skin in the game. You need some kind of tangible details and actions to accompany your grand plan or else you’re just saying that for the umpteenth time, you will lose weight…and then, you don’t. Bah, that’s the worst feeling. 

goal setting

Tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Put tangible figures and timeframes to your goal. How much weight do you want to lose? When will you lose weight it by? Write these details down.
  • Next, write down how you plan to manage nutrition, your workout schedule, stress, social events and more. This will help you guarantee specific, measurable progress.
  • Consider how much you are willing to pay to achieve these results. Should you sign-up for a 24-hour access, low-cost convenience gym that will fit well within your budget or should you stretch yourself to pay for a few boutique workouts at a studio every week? Which environment will be the most motivating and the least stressful? If you commit to something that adds stress, chances are that it will become more of a negative versus positive addition to your life…increasing the chances that you’ll quit.
  • Ask yourself the toughest question before you begin: “Am I being realistic?” Are you really willing to pay top dollar for an amazing personal trainer? What if it takes twice as long to achieve your results? How will you handle it or, better yet, pay for it? Also, do you have enough time for the workout program you planned? Do you need to reduce some days to 30 minute workouts instead of 60 minute ones, in order to fit them in? Can you expect to see results without changing your diet or do you need to more carefully consider cutting back in a few areas?

 

Mistake #3: No Back-up Plan

So you’ve hit your stride and then suddenly you come down with the flu or another illness. Your workout regimen is derailed right when you were feeling at your best and in a rhythm. This happens to people more often than I can count. You’re not alone. Right when you’re feeling better and plan to hop back into Barre or Zumba class, you’re given the mega-deadline of all deadlines at work. It’s nose to the grindstone for about two weeks. You’re exhausted and spent when you finally come up for air. Things are slowing down and you even have a personal day built in for some recovery (mostly because you need to catch up on errands). You’re packing your tennis shoes into your gym bag for your first workout and realize with a gasp; it’s been almost a full month since your last workout! What do you do?

It’s always important to have a back-up plan for exercise. We all get sick, busy or distracted at some point. Generally speaking, it’s not going to be the end of the world if you don’t exercise for a few weeks, but, more often than not, this kind of inconsistency really throws people. They either can’t seem to get back on track once their schedules and health allow them to or they try to jump back too quickly and suffer negative consequences.

travel back-up plan

Tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Write down “contingency plans” for the following scenarios: 1) You get sick, 2) Your work or life gets overly busy, 3) You go on vacation, 4) You have a series of special events that threaten to derail you (think open bar, delicious multi-course meals, a birthday bash, etc.), and 5) You just plain lose motivation.
  • Acknowledge that having a “Plan B” is better than giving up or trying to figure out how to reach towards your goals in the wake of such stress. If you have a plan in place ahead of time, you can take a deep breath and rely on it.
  • Keep in mind that if you’re injured, low on sleep or sick, it’s an excellent time to focus on healthy eating. You may even find that you become better about your food choices in the short term and that this accelerates your results once you’re back lifting weights too.

 

Mistake #4: Do you know why you’re REALLY doing this?

I hear all the time that people want to get into a regular exercise routine. Fabulous!! But now, I must ask, “Why?” Why does it matter to you?

It may sound trite, but it’s important to dig deep into the real reason that weight loss, getting fit or running your first road race matters. Is it because you need something to focus on and control while the rest of your life feels chaotic and messy? Are you trying to funnel negative stress into a positive outlet instead of an unhealthy one? Perhaps you know that if you can get over the intimidation of the gym, that you will exude confidence in other areas of your life?

Whatever the case, working out is rarely just about the calories we expend. There is an emotional reason behind it. If you can hone in on what that reason is for you, there’s a greater chance you will commit and recommit to movement. Whether it’s for your confidence, to grow old and play with grandkids, to prevent disease or to fit into better jeans, there’s a deeper layer under every spandex-clad, gym-goers’ facade. Find yours. 

motivation for goals


 

My 2015 Goal & How I Succeeded All Year

In 2015, my goal was to keep up with this blog every week. By no means has it been easy to fit blog writing in with completing my Master’s degree (and oh man…allllll the writing that came with my thesis), work and being pregnant for the first time, but I planned carefully for how to succeed at it. Here is how I avoided the aforementioned mistakes:

Mistake #1: Too High in the Sky

I knew that if I expected to write more than one blog post every week that the task of maintaining WellnessWinz would be overwhelming. I decided to keep my goal realistic by proclaiming in my post “A Message from Paris” that I would publish at least one article a week. It was rare that I got to two, but I’m proud that I didn’t miss a single week. In 2015, WellnessWinz went from reaching women in 36 countries to 117, all from just one post a week! Even I’m blown away by that.

Mistake #2: Vague Goals Yield Uncertain Results

I tried to be specific about my goal: Write one post a week for a full year. I had timelines and specific, measurable values for what I needed and wanted to accomplish.

Mistake #3: No Back-up Plan

Of course, there were weeks when I was too busy to write. How did I deal with them? Sometimes it would work out that a guest blogger or fitness professional was interested and willing to write a post for the week. Bless you all! I would still help them edit and prep the article but their contributions significantly cut down on the amount of effort on my end.

Other times, I would plan in advance to frontload my writing, tackling a few articles in a single week before my schedule got busy or I left town. I would set them up for publication and voila! A few weeks “off” from writing and time to focus on other important things (like making sure my investment in grad school wasn’t in vein, haha).

Mistake #4: Do you know why you’re REALLY doing this?

If I ever felt a total lack of motivation, I would remind myself that my weekly post only needed to positively impact ONE person for me to feel like it had been worthwhile. I found that posts written on those weeks when I had to dig deep for inspiration were perhaps a little more heartfelt. Ironically, it was usually following these posts that a reader would reach out to me directly and thank me for some aspect of what she had read. Those reassurances made the process well worth it! Talk about karma!


I challenge you to commit or recommit to your goals this season. But don’t just write them down or fantasize about achieving them…plan for them. Avoid failure by being prepared and determined.

I know you can do it and so do you. 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz blue sea

10 Unspoken Rules of the Gym

This blog post may just be my personal vendetta to correct the many things I’ve seen go wrong at gyms over the years, or it may be an opportunity for you to kindly reference this article to the next person who gets on your last nerve at the gym. Maybe print it out and smack it in the center of their bench press? If nothing else, know that you’re in the right and can chuckle lightly to yourself about those who will soon see the error of their ways. There are some real life anecdotes in here that may make you giggle (or cringe) too…you’re welcome.

 

10 unspoken rules of the gym

 

1) Learn How to Share (it’s a basic life lesson)

Just like the little boy from the well-known Campbell’s Soup commercial said to his hungry older brothers: “Don’t hog it all!” Yes, it’s true that people at the gym can get overly possessive about the equipment they’re using. Take the following scenario that happened to me just a week ago…

I’m alternating sets between a leg extension machine and a reverse fly machine. They’re right beside one another and I was five sets done out of six. A man comes up to the reverse fly machine just as I’m finishing my last set for lower body and heading that way. I understand that he has zero notion of what my routine is so I ask him politely if I can finish my last set after his first one, while he takes a break.

This man gives me the nastiest look a human can possibly conjure up. After a pause he says in a snarky tone “But I’m just starting…” I reassure him that I’m happy to wait while he does a set and can finish my routine quickly while he takes his first break. The man gives me silence…yes, silence (oh yea, and another unusually offensive glare) and continues to adjust the machine’s seat to his preference. At this point I walk away. I could have responded to his comment “You’re just starting? Oh yea? Well, I’m just finishing! I was here first! Nah-Nah-Nah! It’s MINE!!!” But that would have been immature….we’re not children learning the rules of the playground for the first time.

So, don’t hog it all. It’s normal for people to ask to takes turns with you and it’s your right to ask the same. Some people might not follow the rules, but don’t you kind of feel sorry for them and their “I will be miserable to all of humanity” attitude? Apparently, they never learned that being ruler of the swing-set is something only preschoolers should get away with when their teachers aren’t watching.

 

 2) Respect Paid-For Sessions

I know this next point is going to step on some sensitive toes…but here I go anyway. Individuals who are working with a personal trainer have paid for a privilege at the gym. In other words, their needs are just a teeny tiny bit higher for the duration of their paid-for session. From the outside looking in, you may have no clue why that person is paying for a training session. From the inside out, I can tell you that those individuals, who make the intense commitment to pay for training, have something specific that they really need help with. It may be accountability or it may be something much more worrisome such as vascular disease or osteopenia. Either way, these people are contributing to what keeps the gym doors open for all; the bottom line (…and no, not all of them are more financially capable than you so dismiss that judgement right away).

Trainers who are with their clients should not ignore the standard rules of sharing and demonstrating respect for others, but they might be a little more assertive about asking permission to use a machine that you were just on. They’re not trying to be rude or reduce the importance of your workout, they’re just trying to do their job and make sure that their client’s significant investment proves worthwhile.

 

gym classes

 

3) Don’t Come Into a Group Class Super Late

At most gyms, group exercise instructors actually have the right to deny you permission to participate in class, if you’re over 10-15 minutes late. Yup, you heard me right. They are allowed to dismiss you because it’s not going to be very safe for you to jump in after the warm-up. You become a liability to the instructor AND yourself.

I have had plenty of people join one of my Spinning® classes over halfway through. Out of respect for them, I don’t yell through my mic “HEY YOU! GET OUT OF HERE! YOU’RE TOO LATE!” But, I do have to hop off my bike and go speak to them personally. Frankly, it’s annoying.

Even the people who meet my refusal and warnings with a “Don’t worry, I will get warmed up before I start following along,” don’t properly warm up. This takes me beyond my former level of annoyance to feeling genuinely infuriated. Warming up is essential.

Have you ever had a moment as a parent/guardian/friend/significant other when you see a loved one doing something that’s so blatantly harmful that it makes your skin itch? That’s how it feels to be an instructor watching an unruly participant just follow their own whim. If they’re not going to listen to professional guidance, why are they even in class?! It’s like watching a child who is about to dart across the street without looking both ways. The natural urge is to yell “Stop!!! You’re going to get hurt!”

 

4) Waste not. For real.

I recently wrote an Earth Day article for Mad Dogg Athletics’ Spinning.com site. The article, Conserving Water by Skimping on Laundry, explains how the average top-loading washer can use up to 45 gallons of water! Industrial size washers, like most gyms use, require even more water to operate. So, next time you’re at the gym, try not to be so nonchalant about grabbing a stack of white towels for your sweat, the leg press seat, the exercise mat, your neck support, your second round of sweat, and everything else you can possibly use a towel for. I have a feeling you can make do with just one (maybe two).

Big box gyms are EXPENSIVE to operate. So the little things, like extra loads of laundry, do add up over time. As boutique fitness studios chip away at big box gyms, they struggle more and more. If you love your gym (or even your studio!) then try to help them reduce costs by not being wasteful. More importantly, you’re helping Mother Nature too.

 

show-off

 

5) The Gym is NOT the Place to Show off Your Goods

Believe it or not, the gym is not the place to flaunt everything that you’ve got. There are certain exercise classes and environments where sports bras, booty-huggers and mid-riff shirts are commonplace, and okay, it’s not exactly against the rules to wear these on the gym floor either. But, no one needs or wants to see your one-woman parade purposefully making a spectacle of herself.

Have you ever seen a beefed-up guy lift his muscle tank, flex his abs for the mirror and grin? Um…hello Mr. Obvious! While he may physically look like a cool drink on a hot day, vanity isn’t very attractive. Plus, distracted exercisers might drop a dumbbell on their heads!

Even more extreme is when people show off their…err…actual private parts. I kid you not. Once upon a time, there was a middle-aged man who would pull a recumbent bike into the middle of a heavy-traffic hallway at the gym. It was always after work when the gym was at its most crowded. Women would pass through the hallway, heading his way, and come out the other side with their faces grimaced in disgust. Mr. Perverted would pedal away on his bike with his male anatomy hanging out of his loose shorts. Eventually, gym management cracked down on him. Apparently, he thought the gym is a place for exhibitionism. Gross.

 

6) Staking Claim to Cardio Equipment is NOT Cool

We’ve all been in gyms during the hustle and bustle of the new year, when people are practically fighting one another for their favorite treadmill or elliptical. During these busy times, and even during non-peak seasons, it’s just ridiculously rude to stake claim to a piece of cardio equipment (i.e. placing your personal belongings on it) if you’re going to peace out to another part of the gym or do a substantial warm-up or workout elsewhere first. I’ve seen so many unnecessary disagreements arise between people because of this behavior. Remember the old “#1 Learn How to Share?” Yea….

 

7) Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Time and time again, people put themselves in harm’s way, and disrespect other people’s workouts, by not being appropriately aware of their surroundings. I have seen a pretty young woman vigorously swinging a kettlebell near an older man’s head. I have seen clients with their trainers doing traveling lunges only to have someone obliviously walk directly into their path, sometimes causing awkward and hazardous collisions. I have seen people so immersed in their personal world, (typically lost in blaring music through their Beats headphones), that they trip over another clumsy gym-goer’s heap of dumbbells.

Recently, I had an experience when I was working out in a plank position. A man came in front of me and started doing triceps kickbacks INTO MY FACE. Really?! You don’t realize that you’re about to smash my head in?

I get it, the workout zone can feel like a real, other-worldly state, but for your safety and the wellbeing of others, try to stay just a little bit aware of your surroundings.

 

gym clutter

 

8) Clean up After Yourself

Cleaning up your gym equipment helps other exercisers avoid tripping hazards. Duh.

Cleaning up is also about reducing the spread of germs. In short, don’t hack up a lung on a machine and leave your germs to fester. I saw a man literally blow snot into his palm, wipe it nonchalantly on his gym shorts, and then resume his workout. I didn’t want to go near that elliptical ever again…even after it was cleaned.

 

9) Play Nice

Help reduce gym intimidation and try to lighten up! Stalking around the gym like you’re on a mission to kill doesn’t help get you into the right mindset for your workout, and it doesn’t help the people around you either. This seems so obvious, but it’s amazing to me how many people find ways to gripe and complain incessantly while at the gym.

The music coming in through the sound system may not be your jam. You may have set a record for the worst day at work ever. You may be experiencing hormonal shifts during your workout and the mass of sweaty bodies moving around might not let you feel as invigorated as your body is implying you should be. Nonetheless, no one, I repeat NO ONE, should turn into a crazy person who is so sensitive that she takes out her frustration on those around her. Remember that insane gym rat years ago who threw another guy off his bike during a group class? Yea…no one should leave the gym with a concussion and spinal injuries. Isn’t that exactly what we’re at the gym to avoid?!

 

10) It’s OKAY to Ask for Help

Many people are reluctant to ask for help. They worry that they will look foolish for not knowing how to adjust the treadmill’s speed or for not knowing the proper direction to face on the lat pull-down machine (facing in, always facing in). But, it’s so much better to ask for professional help and to stay safe. I promise, there are professionals at your gym who are available and willing to help. If they’re not, find a new gym. Plus, if you don’t ask for help, chances are you look exponentially more clueless because you’re doing an exercise wrong. Swallow your pride! Everyone has to start somewhere. You will be given respect for wanting to learn.

 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz logo 2

 

References:

http://gothamist.com/2007/08/25/gym_rat_gets_wo.php

http://www.spinning.com/community/earth-day-conserving-water-by-skimping-on-laundry/

 

Getting Out of a Rut; High-Intensity Interval Training

If you’ve fallen out of the super-determined-and-hitting-the-gym-hard routine, it’s okay! If you’re feeling lackluster about exercise, I get that too. If you’ve decided to become submissive to the powers of winter and are posting pictures online from last summer’s vacation, well…you’re not alone.

There are tons of readymade exercise plans abound so I will spare you a cookie cutter formula. Instead, I would love to direct your attention to a way of approaching exercise: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This kind of training will boost your energy and allow you to minimize gym time during seasons when you’re just not “feeling it.” Ahem, like the end of February when it’s easiest to pretend you’re a bear in a cave. So cozy. So warm.

HIIT exercise sessions can range from 4-30 minutes and consist of a tough movement followed by moderate activity as a rest. Depending on your fitness, you can do anywhere from 3-10 reps of the tough move before taking your rest. Not bad, right?! There are oodles of benefits that you will reap after some focused effort.

I have written a guest post for my alma mater on this subject. It’s short and contains roughly 60 seconds of video footage, divided between three clips, demonstrating some high-intensity moves that may spark your imagination and/or motivation. (Just pretend you’re a fellow alum and yell “WAHOO-WA!” five times fast. Gets MY blood pumping.) 

Feel free to check out the videos: http://bit.ly/1AHH666. Also, if you have time, these short clips are followed by an interview on why I started this blog and where we’re all headed. Great places, of course. Grin.

Lastly, if you’re curious about the benefits of HIIT, glance over the list below…

HIIT Training (2)

  • Burns fat
  • Increases resting metabolic rate (RMR)
  • Improves athletic performance
  • Lowers insulin
  • Improves glucose tolerance
  • Causes skeletal muscle adaptations
  • Reduces trunk and lower extremity subcutaneous fat
  • Maximizes a workout when limited on time

In plain words – HIIT may help you get out of a rut that is physical and/or mental. I hope trying it out gives you a boost this winter so that you may exit your bear cave…even if you decide to do so fashionably late.

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz logo 2

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-intensity_interval_training