Kale and Dumbells » A journey of health and fitness.

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Exercise….Where to start?

My posts have been mostly food related so far, but I thought it was time to post something fitness related. Some of you reading this might be already fairly active and in good shape, but I know that some of you are probably just like me a year and a half ago…out of shape and knowing that you needed to start exercising, but not really sure where to start*. I kind of jumped into the deep end with my exercise classes (I tend to be an all or nothing kind of girl), but I know that this doesn’t work for everyone, so I thought I would share some different exercises you can do to get your heart pumping!

– One of the easiest and most inexpensive workouts is walking/hiking. All you need is a good pair of comfortable running shoes and you are set. Even if you start with 15 minutes a day, just getting outside and moving your body will feel good! There are lots of different ways to make walking challenging and fun: Make goals to increase your speed and distance. Find fun new places to go walking. Find someone to walk with (it makes the time fly by). Walk hills! Take your kids and have them bike or rollerblade. Walk the dog!

Running is often a natural progression from walking. You might start incorporating some running into your walks to get your heart working a little harder. I have heard great things about various Couch to 5K programs, which are geared to get you from walking to running a full 5K in a set amount of time by walking/running intervals. A great way to ease into running that will help increase your stamina and endurance. Sign up for a race to keep you running regularly! I did my first 5K last year, and this year I’m hoping to run my first 10K. 🙂

– Swimming is a great low impact workout if you’re dealing with some injuries. Aquasize is another great low impact exercise done in the pool. I enjoyed doing this through my first pregnancy, and was always amazed at how good of a workout it really was. Swimming is pretty inexpensive as well…a decent swimsuit and perhaps a swim cap is all you’ll need. I know that our local rec centers even have adult swimming lessons that can help you work on your swim strokes (This is on my list to do one day soon!). They also have $2 swims in the evening….so check out your local pool to see what they offer.

Biking is a great way to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, or if you prefer, indoors on a stationary or spin bike. I have done spin classes regularly over the last year and love it. Next to the HIT classes I attend, and running, it is the best sweat-inducing/fat-burning exercise and I love that there is no foot impact. I really like that you can continue to increase your resistance to make your workout more challenging.

– If you are a member at the gym, classes are a great way to try a variety of different exercises. A lot of rec centers also offer classes without requiring a gym membership. Our gym offers strength training, zumba, spin and more, so many options and a good way to find out what types of exercise you enjoy.

– Yoga is another workout that always surprises me with how good of a workout it really is. There are lots of different types of yoga, including hot yoga (Bikram) which has been popular over the last few years. A great way to increase your flexibility and I love the calmness of yoga. Check out your local yoga studios to see what’s available!

– Weight training is going to change your body. I know girls are always scared that if they lift weights they are going to bulk up and become manly. Trust me, it’s pretty darn hard for us ladies to get big and bulky! Muscle takes up less space than fat, and is going to shape and slim your body, in addition to burn more calories for you throughout the day. I will probably go more in-depth on this topic in the future, but in the meantime, pump some iron! 🙂

– Working out with a personal trainer is a great way to get one-on-one and set up a personalized program for you. I like to fit in a few one-on-ones with my trainer every few months so that we can work on my weak spots and focus on specific goals. Even if you just do a few sessions to get you started, I highly recommend it!  I know some gyms will give a free or discounted session when you sign up and can help you put together an exercise program that works for you. My trainer keeps me motivated and on track, and has been worth every penny! 🙂

– Team sports are fun, and it can be a great way to meet new people as well. Find out what leagues are local from anything to soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball, rowing, etc. I have tried both rowing (loved it!) and dragon boating (not so much!) but both were a a great experience and I was proud of myself for going outside of my comfort zone.

– Crossfit. This is pretty intense…if you haven’t been doing much working out this may not be the best place to start. But, if you have been working out and looking for a new challenge, be sure to check it out. I know our local Crossfit has free drop in classes so you can see what it’s like.

– Family activities! The sky is the limit here. Grab a friend, spouse or kid(s) (whether they are your own kids, nephews/nieces or grandchildren) doing something active is even more fun with someone else . We love hiking as a family, going to the local pool to swim, bowling, going for walks, hopscotch, jump rope, skiing, snow-shoeing, biking, playing on the monkey bars, rock climbing (just did this a few weeks ago and loved it!), paint balling, canoeing, walking the dog, paddle boarding and more. So many fun things to do!

– Then there are workout videos. There really are so many options out there! Jillian Michaels, P90X, Insanity, and TurboFire are some popular DVDs you can purchase, but there are so many out there that are everything from cardio workouts, to dance, pilates, weight training, yoga and so on. Check your local library too for DVD’s. The benefit is being able to do these workouts in the comfort of your own home.

Online workouts abound. There are so many free workouts out there that you can do! From apps on your phone (ie NikeFit) to quick 15 minute workouts on Pinterest, there are thousands of different options. Pick a few and do one every day or two. Fitness magazines also devote much of their magazine to different workouts. Tear them out and bring them to the gym! Also, websites like Bodybuilding.com have full workout programs (including eating plans too if you want them) and I love that they show pictures and videos of all the different weight lifting moves!


So, as you can see, there really are so many different options out there, and I know there are more than a few I didn’t mention. Don’t let the options overwhelm you though. Pick one or two things that sound interesting, convince a friend to come along and give them a try for a few weeks! Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Sign up for a 5K race, or if you’re feeling really ambitious…a sprint triathalon! Nothing like a goal to train for to keep you motivated and on track. 🙂 It might take a bit of time to find the right exercise(s) for you, but i can guarantee you that there’s something out there that you will love. With so many options, there’s no reason to hate exercising.

Getting your body moving and your heart pumping will be one of the best things you can do for yourself. Sweating is good for you, and you will be amazed at the benefits you will start to feel. In addition to becoming more toned and fit and increasing my cardiovascular strength, I find that I sleep better, feel better and have more energy when I am working out regularly. Yes, you might be sore at first…but that means that your muscles are working and getting stronger. And if I can do it, I know that you can do it too (and even my trainer agrees with me on that one!). I have had lots of different challenges I’ve had to work through, and I’m pretty much the clumsiest and most uncoordinated person you know (which is why you’ll never catch me doing zumba!)…but I kept plugging along and seeing results and setting goals was the best way to keep me motivated. It gets easier, I promise!

I hope I gave you some ideas to get you started or to try something new. What are your favorite workouts to do?


* If you have some serious health issues or concerns, please be sure to check with your doctor before starting with any exercise program.

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