Q & A: Tips to jumpstart your workout
Getting in shape, losing weight and other fitness-related goals are always among the top New Year’s resolutions, which is one of the reasons gyms are typically crowded in January.
It can be difficult to restart a workout routine, so health enews asked David A. Reitz, personal trainer at Good Samaritan Hospital’s Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill., for some tips to get back on track.
“Anyone starting a fitness routine should first visit their doctor for a checkup,” says Reitz, a 20-year trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. “Know your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.”
Question: I fell off the wagon this year. How can I start out the New Year off right? What is the best way to start slowly, but build up my endurance and strength? Can someone help me set goals?
Answer: When starting back on a strength and endurance routine, start slow. Give your body a chance to get used to working out again before pushing too hard. With strength training, start light with one to two sets of eight to 10 repetitions. After two weeks, you can start to push your body more: increase the weight and do 10 to 15 repetitions. This will help you increase your strength and muscle endurance.
Question: Running and working out on the elliptical bore me. Can you recommend alternatives?
Answer: If running on a treadmill and elliptical bore you, I would suggest joining a group exercise class. There are many, and they can be very challenging and fun.
Question. I’ve tried spin, Zumba, yoga, Pilates, step aerobics and just about everything in between, and I can’t stick with anything. Some of these activities are too difficult or require more coordination than I seem to have. What do you recommend?
Answer: If you are having trouble sticking with different classes because they are too challenging, I would suggest classes that are geared toward beginners. They won’t be as aggressive and you might find them more enjoyable.
Finding a workout partner is also a good idea. You can keep each other motivated and challenged. If you’re having fun, chances are better that you’ll stick with the class.
Question: Walking and swimming are easy and fun for me, but I don’t feel like they’re getting me any closer to reaching my fitness goals. How can I make these activities more challenging or mix it up a bit?
Answer: Add interval training to your walking and swimming. Instead of just going at one speed, pick up the pace for a minute every three to five minutes. You will burn more calories and become more cardiovascular efficient. Try different strokes with swimming – breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly etc. – to target a variety of muscles. If you’re not getting the results you want with swimming and walking, you also can add strength training to your workouts. It will build lean muscle and help you achieve your goals faster.
Question: With strength training, I just don’t know where to start. Those scary machines and heavy free weights intimidate me. How can I ease into it?
Answer: If you’re intimidated by the machines and free weights, I would highly suggest getting some advice from a certified personal trainer or an instructor at your fitness center. They can show you the proper way to use the equipment so you won’t be scared or intimidated to use them.
About the Author
Lisa Parro, health enews contributor, is director of public affairs at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital and Advocate BroMenn Medical Center. A former journalist, Lisa has been in health care public relations since 2008 and has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She and her family live in Chicago’s western suburbs.