If you’re a regular at the local gym or athletic club, you know that few times of the year see a greater influx of new, eager, goal-driven members than the first week or two in January. This is thanks mainly to the No. 1 and No. 5 most popular New Year’s Resolutions – to lose weight and to stay fit and healthy – as outlined in a study published in the 2012 edition of the Journal of Clinical Psychology.
According to the same study, 75 percent of these people will tough out the difficult first week of diet and exercise as their bodies acclimate to new regimens. A respectable 64 percent will make it through the month of January, but by the end of the year, just 8 percent will be successful in achieving and/or maintaining their resolution throughout the year.
For some, failure is due to the simple lack of resolve. Others? Perhaps the resolution itself lacked focus, or maybe work, family and general obligations (life) just got in the way.
Still there are those who buckled down and pushed their bodies through hours of weight-training circuits and elliptical workouts, only to find themselves hindered by body wear, tear, exhaustion and disappointment. Barrett Ford, lead physical therapist at Step & Spine Physical Therapy in Sisters and Redmond, is eager to offer the following suggestion:
Resolve to cross-train in 2014.
“Cross-training sounds like something an elite athlete does, but it’s simply just doing a variety of activities that takes your body into different planes of motion – in different directions,” Barrett said. “It’s giving your workout variety, which not only allows you to cut back on the wear and tear but also makes working out more fun every day.”
According to Barrett, planning workouts based on variety – daily changes in movement, intensity, focus and resistance – reduces the risk of muscle and flexibility imbalances, breakdowns in the muscles and joints, and overuse injuries. This allows you to stick with your workout regimen longer, with less down time.
“Also, doing the same workouts over and over again becomes boring,” Barrett said. “When you’re bored, you start to lack motivation, making it easier to let your resolution go by the wayside.”
Don’t let boredom derail your resolution. Anyone can become a cross trainer, says Barrett, by modifying their workouts in simple ways:
Break Up Your Body Parts: Go into each workout by focusing on a single part or area of the body. For example, concentrate on the strength and flexibility of your legs one day, arms and shoulders the next, then perhaps your core to end the week. “Offset these days with some cardio and perhaps a fitness class, and you’ll have yourself one good week of cross training,” Barrett said.
Explore Exercise Classes: If you’re a member of a gym or athletic club, test your limits (and explore your options) by trying out a variety of exercise classes offered at the facility. From spin class and Zumba to yoga and Pilates, be willing to try something new for the sake of both your body and your mind. “Let your brain as well as your body find a new avenue of interest and movement,” Barrett said.
Make it Competitive: Competition often strengthens our desire to work out and motivates us to push ourselves to achieve a higher level of fitness. So don’t shy away from competition; embrace it, even if you’re simply competing with yourself. “Challenging yourself to run faster, spin longer, or simply complete that hot yoga class without a break is a way to be competitive,” Barrett said. “When you see progress in yourself, you see compliance with a workout routine.” Barrett further suggests journaling as a way of tracking progress and further challenging yourself.
Leave the Gym: It’s good to join a gym, and it’s certainly good to regularly go to your gym, but also get outside once in a while. “Enjoy some scenery, breathe some fresh air and try something new, even if it’s during the cold of January,” Barrett said. “Whether you go out to walk, run, ski or snowshoe, it’s always good to get off the machines and use your own balance and body weight for exercise. Plus, you just might find an outdoor activity you love.”
Keep It Simple: “In physical therapy, the more exercises I give, the less compliant the patients become,” Barrett said. “The same holds true in fitness. While it’s beneficial to mix up your workouts in the spirit of cross-training, don’t make your workouts or your regimen too complicated. You’ll find that in most cases, simplicity leads to success.”
Regardless of how you pursue cross-training specifically or your fitness goals in general, Barrett says to always remain mindful of keeping all the components of good fitness intact. In other words, ensure your workout (three times per week, minimum) includes elements of stretching, strengthening and cardio.
For more information about the fundamentals of cross-training, call Barrett at Step & Spine Physical Therapy at 541-588-6848 (Sisters) or 541-504-5363 (Redmond). As licensed physical therapists, Barrett and his team can help you as you strive to achieve your fitness-based New Year’s resolutions by helping you devise an individualized plan that’s both safe and effective.