Lately, a few people have asked me about what I do at the gym.
I might not look it, but I do exercise on a regular basis. I’ve been on that path for a few years now, and have now developed a regular exercise routine.
But it wasn’t always this way.
For most of my life, I was a sedentary beast. Even though I come from a very fit, active mother, being active is not my natural state. I’m much more inclined to sit inside and watch a movie or read a book than I am to play sports or go for a hike outdoors. Still, my mother never let me sit inside for hours on end in front of the television or computer. Regular hikes were always a part of my life, and later on, we would make compromises: if you get an hour of exercise, you can spend an hour on the computer. I also grew up in a household of good cooks: my mother, father, and grandmother were all excellent cooks who made fresh, healthy food. As a kid, I was allowed one day a week when I could eat junk food, and that was it. I would watch my friends eat bags of candy and snack sized potato chips longingly, and when I would ask my mom if I could have some, she would say, very calmly,”What day is it?” and I would know the answer before she’d even have to tell me.
When I was a teenager and had my own car, a job and my own money, I totally went nuts. I ate everything that I wasn’t allowed to eat growing up: icing out of the can, McDonalds, Starbucks brownies, Applebees – you name it. And it showed! I gained a lot of weight in high school and didn’t lose it until my senior year of college.
At that time, I went on the South Beach Diet and really learned about what different foods do for your body, and how refined white flour and white sugar really wreak havoc on your metabolism. I started cooking for myself, I cleaned up my diet and most of the weight fell off quickly. People at work couldn’t believe it. And at that time, I wasn’t even exercising!
After college, I decided that I wanted to tone up, so I started walking my dogs on a regular basis and started doing the Physique 57 DVDs a few times a week. The Physique 57 method is a barre-based workout that’s a combination of pilates, yoga, and ballet barre exercises that focus on the powerhouse/core area, which is so important, especially for women. I liked Physique 57, but I still felt like I was capable of more, especially in the cardiovascular department, so I decided to join New York Sports Club last summer. I chose that gym because I had heard that their group exercise classes were excellent, and because you get a lot for what you pay for.
I started out by going to a few spin classes, then I incorporated weights into my workout. Now I do a combination of Physique 57 DVDs at home and resistance training and cardio at the gym. I find that the P57 and spinning really compliment one another because they both strengthen your core, butt, and thighs (one of the largest muscle-burning groups in a woman’s body) – while the Pilates and yoga elements really lend themselves to, well… my yoga and occasional Pilates class. Over the last year I’ve gotten fairly disciplined about my routine. I don’t look like I exercise much because I truly believe that to look fit, you also have to watch what you eat. And I … do not do that. I mean sure, I’m not scarfing down french fries and hamburgers and chugging beer, but I don’t exactly count calories of practice portion control either.
Overflowing bowls of pasta? Check.
Peanut butter out of the jar and chocolate chips? Check.
Indiana popcorn? Check.
You get the point. I’m vegan, I eat mostly whole foods and a mostly balanced diet, but I eat a lot. If I ever got the portions under control man, I’d be looking good. I just don’t want it badly enough right now. I’m not at that place yet where I want to take pictures of my abs and post them to Pinterest. Frankly, I find those pictures kind of cloying and offensive, but maybe it’s my deep-seated jealousy seeping out. I’m not ready to completely abandon my inner Chubalubadingdong.
Anyway, here is my routine.
I stick with it most of the time, except when I have to work a weekend or go on vacation, or have a doctor’s appointment…basically, when life gets in the way. I’ll try to mix it up once in awhile, but this is my basic regimen:
Monday: Rest Day (best way to start the week!)
Tuesday: 45 minutes of strength training, 45 minute spin class, 20 minutes on the stairmaster, stretching.
Wednesday: Physique 57 30 or 45-minute workout.
Thursday: 45 minutes of strength training, 45 minute spin class, stretching.
Friday: Physique 57 30 or 45-minute workout.
Saturday: 45 minute spin class, 20 minutes on the stairmaster, stretching.
Sunday: 45 minutes of strength training, 50 minutes of yoga, 45 minutes of spinning, stretching.
For my strength training, I came up with the following routine using free weights:
Back row on bench: 3 sets of 15
Bicep curls (standing): 3 sets of 15
Bicep curls (outside): 3 sets of 15 outside bicep curls
Bench press with dumbells: 3 sets of 15
Dumbell military press, seated: 3 sets of 15
Front arm raises: 2 sets of 30
Hammer curls: 3 sets of 15
Lat pulldown: (on machine) 3 sets of 15
Planks: 1 set of 30 jogging alternate legs; 1 set of 30 jogging with both legs simultaneously.
Planks with hip twists: 1 set of 30
Rows: 3 sets of 15 bent-over rows with hands to the side or facing downward; 3 sets of 15 bent-over rows with hands upward
Reverse flies: 3 sets of 15
Side-bend shoulder press: 30 on each side
Shoulder push press: 2 sets of 30
Tricep curls: 3 sets of 15
Tricep dips: 30 regular, 15 each with one leg raised
Tricep kickbacks: 3 sets of 15
Weighted twist: 2 sets of 30
This routine works for me at the moment. Every once in awhile I will find a new exercise in a magazine or on Pinterest and try to incorporate that. And if there’s one thing I can’t stress enough: stretch! I give myself at least 20 minutes to use the ballet barre and muscle rollers at the gym after I stretch. Tight muscles can really cause pain and do damage – be careful!
What is your exercise routine like?