It’s New Year’s resolution season again – that wonderful time of year to make promises to yourself while the bitter voice in the back of your head sneers that you probably won’t keep them, again.
Forget jumping on the latest bandwagon, swearing that you will get up before dawn every morning to trudge to the gym or vowing to complete 300 sit-ups a day. We’ve got the real secret to sticking to your exercise routine: love it. It’s simple, but so necessary. Unless you find a type of exercise that brings you joy – time and again you will find excuses to bail.
Maybe you used to love your workout routine but you’ve gotten bored with it. Here are five ideas for rut-busting swaps that will rekindle your training sparks.
Running à Trail running
My university days saw loads of 10ks, half marathons and one full marathon. I was excited to jump out of bed and lace up my trainers. Then, a steady string of injuries culminating in a stress fracture in my right hip two weeks before the 2008 Boston Marathon sapped what I thought was boundless enthusiasm.
Fast-forward to 2013 when I signed up for a 50k trail run on a whim with a girlfriend. All of a sudden there was no time pressure on me – the variety of courses meant I had no idea what my finishing time would be and therefore didn’t feel the need to berate myself for falling behind pace. The steady mountain climbs gave my knees and ankles a break while I made up speed bounding down hills. If I wanted to walk, I walked. If I wanted to bounce like a mountain goat along big rocks on a particularly technical downhill with arms outstretched like an airplane, that was cool too. It was fun again.
In 2014, I logged more than 250 kilometres in races alone and the worst injury I suffered was incurred slipping on my freshly mopped kitchen floor.
Yoga à Stand-up paddleboard yoga
Most of these suggestions involve getting outside. Studies have repeatedly shown that being outdoors not only makes us happier, it makes us feel more alive.
Beyond the psychological benefits, stand-up paddleboard yoga is an incredible core workout. Adding a touch of instability to poses makes your core and leg-stabilizing muscles work overtime to keep you upright. And if you don’t stay up – it’s a judgement-free refreshing dip.
SUP yoga is just one way to reinvigorate your yoga routine and understandably can’t be done with the frequency of studio classes, so add some fun there too. Sign up for a type of yoga you’ve never heard of, try an aerial yoga class or switch what time of day you go. Small changes that fit your lifestyle better will keep you more engaged and trying new things will make you look at your practice with fresh eyes. Try SUP Yoga Singapore here.
Cardio kickboxing à Actual kickboxing
The first time you tried a Body Combat or aerobic kickboxing class you probably loved the high energy fun of punching and kicking your way through an hour. This feeling is nothing compared to the stress-relieving joy that is punching and kicking something and/or someone for an hour.
Most Muay Thai and western boxing gyms offer free trials so there is no excuse not to go check out a class. Explain to the trainers that you are new to the sport and they will help you wrap your hands or give you alternative gloves. Most group classes involve a cardio warm-up, circuit training, bag work (using a punching bag) and pad work (doing drills to punch and kick a partner’s gloves or specially designed mats).
These classes will teach you how to throw and slip real punches instead of seeing how many incorrectly flung jabs you can muster during an 8-count of music. It’s probably not a life skill you’ll ever need, but it’s sure nice to have in your back pocket. Try kickboxing at Evolve here.
Weight machines à Free weights
The free weight section can be daunting in any gym so it’s best to go with a friend who knows what they are doing or, better yet, book in a personal session to learn some basic exercises, figure out which weights are right for you and learn correct form.
Weight machines done as a circuit have their place, particularly in injury prevention, as it is harder to have improper technique than it is with free weights. Because of this, machines tend to target very specific muscles, while free weights force you to engage your core and use the stabilizing muscles around whatever joints you are working on.
The free weight section also typically has kettle bells and medicine balls which are a great way to work on strength and short burst cardio. You only need one or two sessions to learn basic movements that can forever change the way you work out. Try free weight training at Grit Singapore.
Cardio machines à Walking shelter dogs
If you’re one of those girls whose only and infrequent workout is a low-key cardio machine and you’ve been struggling to even force yourself to do that lately, why not call your local shelter? They are always looking for volunteers to walk their dogs.
You get a good reason to work out, karma points for volunteering, the aforementioned benefits of being outside and your four-legged companion gets to stretch her legs.
This also follows one of my favourite life rules: when all else fails, add puppies.
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