Exercise Slump: Everyone Does It

 

Shhhh…Don’t tell anyone, I’ve been in an exercise slump for nearly two weeks! Yes, it happens even to us professional physical fitness gurus. One day I’m running 4 miles at 7 mph on the treadmill and feeling great, the next day my mojo was lost. It all had to do with that darn storm that came through and knocked out our power for four days along with devastating our little neighborhood. No major damage, however several sheared off and uprooted trees, downed power lines, and of course, the hole in our roof. Compared to other storms around our country and the world, our storm was tiny and really insignificant. However, it was enough to change our daily routines, disrupt our lives, and make me really think about how lucky we were that the damage wasn’t worse. It was very easy for me to get out of my daily exercise routine thanks to the storm of 2014. DSC_1789-Edit-3

I can see how it’s easy to get out of the routine of daily exercise and how difficult it is to get back into it. Motivation is a key issue. My motivation has been more focused on getting the neighborhood cleaned up, dealing with the insurance company, deciding on what type of home generator to buy, and trying to keep my kids on schedule with school and homework while juggling 8-9 clients every day. I’ve had no time to fit in my own exercise.

I’ve heard this from clients for all the years I’ve been a personal trainer (16 years now!). “I don’t have time to exercise”, they say. I always come back with, “You have to make the time.” It is difficult to make the time to exercise, especially if you really don’t like it. I understand that. I also understand that “life” gets in the way of exercise. However, the benefits of exercise far outweigh the lack of daily physical activity, a sedentary lifestyle, and the negative effects that come along with it such as heart disease, cancers, strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, low self-esteem, and a lot of medical bills.

My exercise slump is over as of today. I put on my running shoes and got back up on the treadmill. My motivation? Life. I love the life I have here on Earth. I love my boys, my wife, my family and friends, and all the clients I’m able to interact with every day. I enjoy spreading my knowledge of physical fitness to everyone I come in contact with. Whether you’re a long time client from Bloomfield Hills, a new FaceBook friend from Kenya, or a student from the United Kingdom using our website for research. My motivation comes from all of you that read my blogs, watch my YouTube videos, and listen to my exercise and fitness advice. All of you are my support group that keeps me moving and physically active.

A support group is the best way to stay motivated. Your spouse, family, and friends are the most important support groups to have when getting out of your exercise routine. Be sure to talk with the people who care about you. Let them know that your exercise routine has slipped and that you need help getting back on schedule. With encouragement and support from your loved ones, you’ll find yourself lacing up your running shoes, stepping outside with a smile, and feeling more motivated now that you’re out of that exercise slump. For me, I’m cranking up the treadmill to 8 mph tomorrow! I’m back, thanks to you!

 

What is the Best Exercise?

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I have many people ask me this question every week. What I tell them is that there is no “best” exercise. All exercise is good. You just have to find the “best” exercises that suit your needs, physical fitness level, and lifestyle. For me, the best exercise is jumping rope.

I’ve been jumping rope for 20 years now. I had gotten out of the Marine Corps and got a membership at my local Bally’s Total Fitness. My first day working out there I saw a gentleman in the aerobics studio jumping rope all by himself. I watched him in awe. The way he moved.  Swift, steady, precise, and rhythmic. I had visions of watching the movies Rocky, Rocky II, and Rocky III from when I was a kid. Trying not to disturb this obviously “in-shape” man, I entered the aerobics studio, picked up a jump rope, and attempted to jump rope on the opposite side of the studio. I thought, “I’m a Marine, if he can do this so can I”. Ha! My attempts to find rhythm, steadiness, and precision were replaced with clumsiness, stumbling, and continued misses on the jump. I felt a little embarrassed, especially since we were the only two in the studio.

The expert rope jumper obviously watched me struggle and stopped to offer advice. He gave me these 3 following tips:

  • Start slow and low – “Low” meaning you should not jump high when jumping over the rope. You should jump just high enough to get the rope under your feet. “Slow” meaning when you are first starting out with this endeavor go slow to get the rhythm, coordination, and reaction time when the rope is coming around.
  • Keep your body tight – “Tight” meaning keep your arms and shoulders tight and let the rope turn from the wrists. Don’t waste energy moving your arms in big circles. The more movement you have, then the quicker you will burn yourself out.
  • Start with the most basic foot work that you learned as a kid – Meaning just try skipping over the rope. Don’t try the fancy “Rocky” moves right away. You must get a feel for the rope and learn timing and coordination. Once those 2 things are accomplished, then move on to more advanced foot work and speed.

Those 3 tips were just the beginning for me as they are for everyone else that has learned that jumping rope is much more than just skipping and jumping for 30 to 60 seconds at a time. Over 20 years of training with the rope, I have developed skills that are very advanced. Not only has my reaction time, coordination, agility, and speed increased, but I’ve found that my muscular endurance and cardiovascular endurance has drastically improved also. I can easily jump rope at a high intensity level for 30 minutes now. Jumping rope can get boring just like any other cardiovascular exercise, but once you know a good routine of tricks, foot work, and movement, you’ll find that it is not boring at all. Quite the opposite!

You will certainly see the following improvements when you add jumping rope into your daily exercise program along with practicing healthy eating habits:

  1. Improves overall body composition by decreasing body fat, increasing muscle mass, and increasing weight loss (health-related component of physical fitness)
  2. Increased cardiovascular endurance (health-related component of physical fitness)
  3. Increased muscular endurance (health-related component of physical fitness)
  4. Decreased blood pressure
  5. Increased agility (skill-related component of physical fitness)
  6. Increased coordination (skill-related component of physical fitness)
  7. Increased reaction time (skill-related component of physical fitness)
  8. Increased mental focus
  9. Increased speed (skill-related component of physical fitness)

So, my best exercise is jumping rope. It improves 7 of the 11 components of physical fitness. It is a total body workout. It is challenging. Most importantly, jumping rope is fun! Thank you to that expert rope jumper I met at Bally’s. If it wasn’t for him, I may have given up and never found my “best” exercise.

Hate Cardio? Love Bikinis? Then HIIT Is It!

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Yes, I’m 40 and once again this summer, I intend to wear a bikini.

Some may disagree.  Some may think that after 39, you should retire any piece of clothing that shows your mid-section.  I, however, can’t help feeling that by hanging up the two-piece, I would be giving in to age and laziness and gravity.  I refuse to surrender to these opponents of fitness.  So I stubbornly cling to my bikini…one of the last vestiges of my youth.

Hence the dilemma each year when faced with the prospect of actually putting on said bikini and walking around in public.  If I worked harder during the winter, took advantage of those long, dark evenings to log hours on my treadmill, I know it would not be such a problem.  But summer always sneaks up and finds me ill-prepared.  Six weeks until Memorial Day, more than five extra pounds to lose and only 30 minutes to work out.  What’s a girl to do?

Shedding pounds quickly requires a commitment to eating right, training with weights and plenty of cardio.  Its that simple.

But I hate cardio.  There, I said it.  Give me anything else.  I will do hundreds of crunches, lunges up and down my street, lift ridiculously heavy weights.  I’ll do anything not to have to complete long, boring sessions of treadmill walking.  But, sadly, building muscle alone is not enough to get bikini ready.

Enter HIIT.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a cardio-haters best friend. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy.  In almost every way, it is harder than spending an hour walking.  But for me one of the most challenging parts of  long cardio sessions is boredom.  With HIIT, I am not bored because it is challenging and changing.  I work as hard as I can for a short amount of time and then get a break.  It increases metabolism so I burn more calories throughout the day.  Plus I don’t need to do an hour of cardio because 20-30 minutes of HIIT is enough.

You can turn almost any workout into a HIIT workout and get more bang for your cardio buck.  The goal is to work really hard for a short amount of time, get your heart rate up to the highest end of your target heart rate zone then move to an easier exercise that allows your heart rate to come down for a bit.  This cycle is repeated several times.  So it doesn’t matter if you are on a treadmill, outside on a walk or doing plyometrics, you can turn any work-out up a notch with HIIT.  And after a few weeks of this kind of training, you may find yourself looking forward to putting on whatever swimsuit you choose.

A word of warning:  HIIT is serious exercise and not for everyone.  As with all exercise, check with a doctor or a trainer to make sure you are ready for the intensity of a HIIT workout.