I just left a great workout. Literally, it ended 23 minutes ago – long enough for me to drive home (while avoiding direct eye contact with Sonic), turn on my computer and start a movie (No Strings Attached). I digress.
It was a great workout, and I wanted to share with you how I stayed motivated.
Generally, between parking my car and getting on a machine, I make a goal. Sometimes it’s a distance or time goal, but usually it is a calorie goal. That is, I can’t stop until I’ve hit X number of calories. This way, if I’m tired, and want to stop earlier, all I have to do is work harder/faster. If I have all the time in the world, and I’m feeling lazy/tired/sore, then I lower my intensity/speed and work longer.
Today, I tried a different machine. The past few times to the gym, I worked on the elliptical trainer. This was a recommendation from a personal trainer because it simulates running without the impact on your hips and knees (both which give me issues). For whatever reason, I was thinking, “Ugh” at the thought of the El Trainer today and so I hopped on a newfangled treadmill. By newfangled, I’m talking the motor in the back, full color touch screen kind.
This is the first machine that let me SET a calorie goal from the beginning. So, when I hopped on and reviewed my buttons of choice, I saw one that said “set goal,” which holy smokes, is what I do anyways. I click on it and picked my calories (450) and then I could choose incline and speed. As I did, the amount of time it would take me to complete would change. I played around with the settings and saw that at a speed of 2.6mph and an incline of 10%, it would take over an hour to finish.
I started my 60+ min workout and quickly – very quickly – got bored. I increased my incline to 20% (whoa), and my speed up to 2.7. The machine told me I now only had like 35 minutes remaining (as opposed to the 55 remaining).
This could be fun.
So, since the 20% incline was challenging, but not sustainable, I kept playing around with the dials to make it interesting. For instance, I would do one minute at 20%, but once I “beat” that, I took it down to 19.5%, which added 15 seconds to the time remaining. I kept playing around with the one-minute “intervals” until I started to feel a bit of a runners high. At about 15% I felt really good and so I’d say, out loud mind you, “One more minute here.” Then, “Just 30 more seconds here.” I probably stayed at 15% for a good long time before it started to wind me. So then I found another metric on the machine – elevation. At this point, I’d climbed 985ft or so, and so I said (again, out loud – this seems to make a difference for me), “Hit 1,000 ft in elevation, then you can drop your speed.”
I played these little games for the full 39 minutes (where I ultimately hit 450 calories burned). It made the time go by so much faster, I felt challenged, and I encouraged myself.
The one liiiiiitle thing I did not care for – this particular machine wouldn’t read my heart rate. I don’t know if it was the whole series of machines at at the gym (there are 10 that are the same), or my particular one, but I would have really liked to know where I maxed out, and was walking too fast to take my own pulse. One other thing, there didn’t seem to be a way to tell the machine how old I was or how much I weighed. If you’re heavy like me, you want to do this because a heavy person burns more calories than an “average” person because of all the extra work it takes to carry the weight.
So then I did a 5 minute cool down on another treadmill (couldn’t figure out how to do it on the one I was on, plus the guy next to me was a little creepy).
Then, the next really fun part: strength. I am still a little intimidated by the weight machines at my new gym. I have used said machines at other gyms, but somehow stepping off the tiled walkways of the gym, onto the rubber mats of the weight area feels a little nerve wracking. So, for now, I’ve been using a free weights/stretching/other area.
I did 100 crunches of varying kinds: toes in the air toe touches, angry penguins, standard, then did lower back crunches (100), including supermans, superman holds, and planks (not a crunch, but the idea was to work opposite muscle groups, so a count of one equaled one crunch).
I also did some arm work with free weights, but with a twist! I got a BOSU ball, stood on it, and did curls and shoulder lifts. I’m no fitness expert, but I know with challenge comes reward. By standing on this thing while doing my curls, I was forced to engage my abs the whole time.
After that, I got a big (too big) yoga ball (I really don’t know the name for those things) and did some chest flies.
Next, feeling my triceps were under-worked, I attempted some tricep pushups using the BOSU ball. I don’t know how well they worked, but they did something for me I’m sure, as I had a hard time doing them.
Last exercise, I did bridge crunches. These are a nice way for me to tighten my butt (or at least that is the goal)!
Finally, stretching. Oh how I love to stretch! I made a mixed tape as a teenager called “stretching music,” full of Enya, monk chants, the Jurassic Park sound track, and a little Brian Adams. No lie.
All in all, an excellent day at the gym! How do you stay motivated at the gym, or how do you push yourself?