So you’re not in the best shape right now, but you want to be. Maybe you took time off to raise a family. Or maybe you’ve been working so hard that you just haven’t had the time. Or it could be that you realized that playing recreational doubles tennis one or twice a week does not a fitness routine make. Or maybe you’ve never really been into fitness in the first place. Whatever the reason for getting (back?) into shape, the most important thing is that you’ve committed yourself to doing it – good for you!
But don’t start out with a difficult routine. There is nothing worse for your body than say, going to the gym for the first time (in a long time?), and attempting to keep up with the uber-buff Barbies who have been going there for years. First of all, you could actually injure yourself, which will lay you up and put off your fitness goals even longer. And if you don’t injure yourself, you’ll still be so sore that you won’t feel like working out again for at least a week. But the worst thing that could happen is that you keep going with that pattern until you get so frustrated with the pain, that you give up altogether. DON’T let that happen!
Start off S-L-O-W-L-Y, with a little movement and some cardio. You’ll jump start your metabolism and get your body used to exercise. It will also help you drop a few LB’s which will help not only motivate you to keep going, but will help make your workouts a little easier (less weight to move), so you can push yourself a little further.
So you get off on the right foot, I’ve put together this list of highly effective, easily accessible workouts you can choose from that will help ease you (back) into a regular routine.
Walk It Off
Walking is the easiest (and cheapest) way to get back into working out. Start small, like going around your block or if you have one, walking along your community pond. Then work your way up to winding wooded trails and hilly roads. Just be mindful of the weather before you go out – it’s no fun getting stuck in the rain at the halfway point :-)
Put Your Body Into It
The importance of strength training can not be emphasized enough, but let’s face it, peeps, whether you are starting out fresh or getting back into a routine, the gym is a very intimidating place. So forget the gym and instead, do some body weight exercises like crunches, wall squats and push-ups, which are just as effective and can be done pretty much anywhere (and, obviously, with no equipment but yourself).
Play Tennis (Or Some Other Sport)
Monotony is one of the biggest killers of workout routines. Keep yours alive by adding something you actually enjoy doing, like playing recreational tennis (or soccer, basketball, or whatever sport you like). That will help boost your mood because it gives you something to look forward to. It’ll also keep your social life current.
Go For A Spin
After being cooped up in the office all day, grab your bike and go for a ride in the great outdoors, through the neighborhood park or on a nearby trail. And if it’s raining, drop in on an exhilarating spin class – especially one that has IMAX screens that make your ride much more fun. Spinning is a great low impact workout in which you get all the benefits of a group class (energetic peers and enthusiastic instructors), but you still go at your own pace. If you need to slow down to catch your breath, DO IT! Everyone else does!
Go With The Flow
Flexibility is often overlooked when we think about being “in shape,” but it’s necessary in order to prevent muscle injuries, and yoga is an excellent way to limber up. I’m not talking about the advanced, high-intensity poses, but what is called “slow-flow” yoga, where you hold simple moves for longer periods of time to maximize the benefits of each one.
Get Into The Swim Of Things
If you have access to a pool, lake or beach, swimming is an excellent fitness option. It allows you to work every muscle group as you get your heart rate up, but without putting any strain on your joints, which is especially helpful for those with arthritis, or bad knees or back. It’s also relaxing to be in the water, which helps us destress.
One of my favorite things to do is watch workout videos online. One of our fitness contributors, POPSUGAR has a beyond fabulous Youtube channel filled with all types of workout videos from which I can choose – aerobics, yoga, dance, Pilates, and even kickboxing. Not only that, but I can watch them whenever I want, and wear whatever I want! I can even watch on my computer when I’m traveling, so I’ve got NO EXCUSES to not exercise.
Technology can basically do anything these days, so why shouldn’t it make transitioning back into fitness easier? Turns out, it can. Apps like the Nike Training Club coach you every step of the way, and most (like NTC) are FREE! And as a bonus for us tennis players, NTC has some awesome tennis-specific workouts demonstrated by tennis great Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Li Na. Too cool!
A fit, buff bod isn’t going to happen overnight, no matter how many exercises you do. It takes knowledge, work, perseverance, and patience, and if you start out right (meaning slowly), it will be much easier for you to ultimately achieve your fitness goal. And remember, a fitter you will have you moving better and hitting harder on the courts!