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Exercise Is Better Together

When I was in college, I would go to the HYPER to workout. The HYPER is the gym at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. So picture this: Me, on the elliptical, watching “E! News”. Thirty minutes in, I would have only burned 300 calories. At that point, I would drag myself off and go home. This went on the whole time I was in college.

I was slightly overweight and not happy with the way my body looked. I was ignorant about exercise, weight loss and simply did not know what to do to get myself in the shape I desired. So as you can imagine, my relationship with the elliptical continued.

Welcome To The Group

After college I unintentionally became an “elliptical convert”. My husband and I moved to Benton, and I knew no one. I decided I might meet people in a fitness class. The only class that fit into my schedule was a “Body Sculpt” class, which had zero to do with the elliptical.

My new instructor had the whole class lifting ten-pound free weights with spurts of cardio (high knees, jumping jacks, burpees, etc.) in between. After 90 days of doing this class twice a week my body completely changed. Not only did I notice, but others noticed too. I was encouraged and hooked! Honestly, I only lost five pounds, but the composition of my body changed. I was firmer and much, much smaller.

That was seven years ago. That was three babies ago. I am still in the best shape of my life. And I’ll never get on an elliptical again.

How To Take Full Advantage

The best use of your time and money is to find a workout class close in proximity to you. Look for an appropriate class. Look for words like “Beginner” if you’re just starting out or “Advanced” if you’ve been working out but want to step up your game. Pay in advance for a class at a specific time. You don’t have to spend long hours making your own workout plan or hire an expensive personal trainer. Just show up. Show up every single time.

The class environment should be inspiring. Try to meet others just like you. Trust the instructor. You will leave feeling totally spent, exhausted, and miserable. But you will live through it. Your body will hate you in that first week, but keep showing up. Each class will get easier. The soreness will fade. You’ll be stronger and proud of yourself.

Some tips for starting a group exercise class:

Make sure the class incorporates strength training. The benefits of strength training are extensive for everyone, but especially important for the beginner to help correct postural issues that may arise from carrying extra weight. Building muscle is the only way to increase your metabolism after the age of 30.

Show up to every class. A one-hour workout is four percent of your day. Four percent of your day to extend your life is totally doable.

Greet and introduce yourself to the instructor. Making that connection sends the message that you are open to encouragement and feedback. This is a good time to communicate any exercise modifications you might need.

Stick With It

I want to stress the importance of sticking with it. Give yourself 90 days of consistent exercise. In 30 days, your clothes will fit better. In 60 days, those closest to you will notice the change in your body. Everyone else will notice in 90 days.

Do not shortchange yourself. Stay strong mentally. Avoid the mexican restaurant and their margaritas. Don’t even go down the cookie aisle at Kroger. Put up a picture of your (old) self or motivational quotes on your bathroom mirror. Celebrate your weight loss with non-food rewards. Did someone say “new jeans”!?

Whatever it takes, stay consistent. Application is everything. Stay strong!