Faithful to your fitness
“Motivation gets you started, but habit is what keeps you going…
keeps you going through the snow and the rain… through the hurt and the pain.
Fit is not a destination, it’s a way of life. Exercise is not a chore, it’s a love.”
Whether you are a seasoned fitness expert or a newbie to the world of exercise, it is worthy to take time to periodically evaluate your motivation to, and your knowledge about, your fitness regime. It is important to consider this because our end goal, ideally, is to build healthy habits and thus remain faithful to our fitness. This does not necessarily mean that we have to stick to the same regime; it simply means that we should try to maintain dedication to our fitness goals.
There really is no magic to maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercise. In fact it is a very simple equation: You get out of it what you put in to it. Contrast to some strongly-held viewpoints, this does not mean that you must invest hours upon hours into your exercise regime. It merely means that you have to work smart, focusing on your goals but being open to building up your fitness portfolio with new exercises that are beneficial to not only your muscles but also to your spirit.
Not all exercises are created equal—take the time to gain insight into the basic physiology of common movements.
Not all exercises must be done within the confinements of a gym—if you are more freespirited, take a rain-check from the gym and explore exercises that you can do outside!
Exercise doesn’t have to be done alone—find a small group of people who want to workout, encourage a friend to join you for a walk or partake in a group sport, like recreational volleyball, softball, or tennis. Who said exercise can’t be a social experience?
BENEFITS OF A MEMBER: AT THE GYM
Some of us enjoy working out at the gym. We may be interested in taking fitness classes or training on the stationary equipment to get our hearts pumping and blood flowing. Ancillary to these typical exercises, you may want to consider strength training, particularly exercises that target multiple muscle groups. Squats, which work the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal, are a great example.
An important thing to remember with strength training is that how you perform the exercise is what makes it functional. Performing with bad technique no longer makes the movement functional. For the perfect squat form, keep feet shoulder-width apart and back straight. Bend knees and lower your rear. The knee should remain over the ankle as much as possible. The form resembles how you would sit down in a chair, only the chair’s not there. Physical therapists say that practicing with a real chair can help you learn and practice perfect form.
Check out the McMaster gym (the Pulse) for an accessible, active space right on campus1! The Pulse Fitness Center, located in the David Braley Athletic Complex, is one of Canada’s largest University fitness centers (over 20, 000 square feet of space)1. With over 7, 000 square feet of resistance training equipment including single station machines, free weights, lifting platforms, cable machines, and accessible multistations for special needs. Check out the Pulse to book a tour, partake in a fitness assessment, fitness classes, or one-on-one personal training1!
ALL FOR THE LOVE OF SUNSHINE: OUTSIDE
If you prefer to exercise in the great outdoors, you may want to consider walking, jogging, team sports, simple interval training or even yoga in the backyard or nearby park. It can be very liberating to feel the sun filter through the leaves to give you a nice kiss or to feel the wind blowing through your hair as you work on your body, mind, and spirit.
Walking or jogging outside not only supports cardiovascular benefits, strengthening the heart and burning calories, but it is something that you can do anywhere, anytime, and with no equipment (other than a comfortable pair of running shoes). Brisk walking can burn up to 500 calories per hour and doing it outdoors while perhaps hiking or strolling through a park, conservation area or trail, can really help to clear your mind, bust stress, and give you some time to yourself.
For a list of trails and parks in the Hamilton area, check out the City of Hamilton’s list of trails, at www.hamilton.ca2. The complete link can be found to the right in the “Resources for Students” section.
AIN’T NO PLACE LIKE HOME: INDOOR
If you are someone who prefers the comfort of your home environment, you may want to consider a circuit workout. You can easily set-up camp in your living room or bedroom!
Choose a series of exercises that work different muscle groups (such as squats, lunges, push-ups, skipping) and conduct them following a pre-determined sequence of numbers. For example, you may choose to do five rounds of ten squats, ten lunges, and ten push-ups. Challenge yourself by aiming to finish the circuit within a certain amount of time or by gradually increasing the number of rounds you do.
If you would like additional information, including a do-it-together video option, check out the following resources:
- Jackie Warner’s At-home circuit (Fitness Magazine)3
- The Best Circuit-Training Workouts (Real Simple E-zine)4
- A do-it-together timed circuit training video for beginners (Unique Move)5
All in all, you should listen to your body—find that fine balance between challenging yourself and being realistic about your goals and expectations. Staying faithful to your fitness regime doesn’t have to break your wallet or your clock. It can be simple, fun, and liberating!