On Fitness: Gym Anxiety

A little over two months ago, I stepped into my gym with a goal to clear my head, get my blood pumping and hit an emotional high before diving into a particularly traumatic conversation immediately following where I parted ways with my long distance boyfriend.

While most aspects of life have progressed as fun and normal since then, my love and affinity for my gym has waned as I’ve found every excuse to not keep up my routine with my personal training plan.

I’ve opted to keep seeing the gym regularly but I wonder if my romantic split is battling custody over my relationship with the gym.

For the past year, I’ve likened the gym to my private reflective place where I completed solo missions and awarded personal accomplishments.  But now I can’t help but feel my bond with the physical entity is somewhat tainted.  Looking absentmindedly at my phone has a way of reminding me of the anxious feeling from two months ago, where I kept counting down the minutes, trying to fit in my work out before the scheduled time I promised to place the phone call.

Even now, I am left with a terribly anxious feeling at the memory.

And I’m not quite sure what to do about this.

In early July, at the mercy of some free personal training sessions, I completed some of the most mentally and physically challenging circuits, thinking to myself “If I can get through this, I can get through anything.” The personal high afterward affirmed my self-confidence at my ability to move forward.

But I may have spoken too soon.

Whether I’ve needed a new water bottle, new headphones, new gym shoes, new podcasts or music, I can’t seem to get my act together to complete a full scheduled week of workouts. Additionally, my appetite is all over the place, switching from ravenous to completely void.

I’m left contemplating how to change-up my routine; how to bring back that loving “spark.”

I have grand ideas of pursuing a more group-centered approach, accepting my humbled loss of strength, spending more time stretching and dancing. I know, most importantly, my priority is to keep up my fitness – I am proud of pushing myself and proud of the physical results that are more important than ever.

So how do I make fitness a priority when one of my more sacred places has been corrupted? Is there a good goal I could distract myself with? Honestly, I’d love your ideas.

On Fitness: Soundtrack for my Fake Fitness Class

Through the twists and turns of the blog, I’ve found various subjects and concepts I keep coming back to because they interest me  – be it relationships or self-worth or fitness.

And lately, fitness has returned to the forefront of my mind.

I’m glad to have been riding the work out bandwagon for most of 2012 and what has made the habit stick this time is – humorously – I’ve found the right level of entertainment to power me through.

For the $60 bucks a month I pay for my gym membership, it is slightly disappointing there aren’t those little TV’s strapped to the cardio machines. I can’t help myself – I need something to keep my brain interested.

So, first, I found an entertainment source in podcasts – aka Savage Love on repeat – to take me through my cardio or solo weight training sessions.

But, I still haven’t found a group fitness class’ music choices I felt jived completely with mine. You know, when a teacher or class picks a song you are just not that into? I’m pretty sure I ponder getting certified in group fitness just so I can make my own playlists to share.

Until that day, I’ll just play dress up.

Below are my current top five favorite “get pumped” jams and the best times to play them during your workout.

My  Top 5 Current Workout Jams

“Fade into Darkness” – Avicii

Great for warm-ups!

“Boyfriend Girlfriend Mashup” – Mashup Justin Bieber vs N’Sync

The most fun song I’ve recently come across. Use it for a dance segment or to start a work out on a perky note.

“Levels Remix”  – Avicii ft Skrillex

Ideal for powering you over the hump of a workout – when you are struggling, getting bored or losing energy.

“Memories to Blow” – Mashup of my favorite song by Kid Cudi and David Guetta and Drake lyrics

My favorite song on the list – perfect for the final sprint or intense peak or climax.

“Longest Road” – Morgan Page ft Lissie

I love this for a cool down. I’ve only known the Deadmau5 remix of this song until recently and I think I may prefer the original. I also saw him DJ during a Vegas pool party and he was fantastic

In other news – last weekend in Canada, I walked into a Forever 21 with the best soundtrack I’ve ever heard. I asked all the sales people and  manager where the mix was from. Apparently the Forever hires this dj to make an in-store playlist of mashups. I contacted the dj and he’s asking me $60 for a downloadable 3-hour mix. While this is obviously more than any GirlTalk mix, it’s probably comprable to going to a concert, only I’d get to keep the music. It sounds a bit expensive but it’s this dude’s livelihood so I’m not sure what to ask next. Do think I should try to haggle it down?

Music fiends, let me know: Any new jams to add to my playlists? 

How to Pick the Right Workout Plan for You

With my 24th birthday come and gone, I was struggling how to address my thoughts on growing older and my never-ending search for stability.

So I thought I’d talk about the early birthday present I gave myself almost two months ago when I signed up for online personal training with Tara.

After feeling less than perfect in my skin the last 2 years, I really wanted to enter into my 24th year feeling like the old, early 20’s Mel: beautiful, optimistic, fun, confident. And smaller.

My 21st birthday.

I am sooo proud to say that from May 15 to June 21, I followed a personalized plan designed to challenge my body in ways I have never imagined. Tara designed a nutrition and 5 day-a-week workout plan and it PAID OFF!!

On my 24th birthday, I felt like I was back in my own skin. The fun, sassy and confident Mel celebrated with a pole dancing workout class with 11 girl friends, effortlessly lifting herself up and around the pole, oozing with strength, void of self-consciousness.

Vegas with the girls, the day after finishing Week 6 and the program.

You’ll hear it over and over: Being dedicated to a plan will yield results

But in my experience, it can be very difficult to find a plan that makes you want to stick with it the whole way. Whether results don’t come fast enough, the work becomes monotonous or not challenging enough or too challenging or there is no support or you get interested in another sport or goal – the right program is different for everyone!

Before signing up with Tara, I was pondering 4 different types of programs: an online bootcamp, an in-person bootcamp, various online personal trainers and a free online follow-as-you-go program. I’ve been known to weigh the pros and cons of options for days, so I’m really glad I didn’t dally and choose Tara. The way I feel and the way I look says it all. Finding the right program WORKS.

Since finishing my 6 week plan, I took a few weeks to workout with an awesome personal trainer at my gym who pushed me to my limits, made sure my form was correct and gave me confidence in my strength. Now I’m rearing to go for my next 6 week plan with Tara!

Having gone through this process, I can affirmatively state there is a fitness resource out there for everyone! Answering the following questions should help you evaulate your needs to guarantee a program or trainer is right for you.

How to Pick the Right Workout Plan for You

  1. What are your goals?

    Goals can include fat loss, muscle growth, “losing weight and looking toned,” adopting a healthier lifestyle, competing in a race, or looking good for a wedding, vacation or event.

    Mine was to look good for my Vegas vacation and 24th birthday by losing fat and adding muscle. Knowing there were only a few weeks until I’d be in a swimsuit next to my beautiful friends was a constant reminder to stay on track.

  2. How much can you afford to spend?

    You’ll find a variety of costs when it comes to online personal trainers, in-person trainers, boot camps, online programs, etc. Depending on the resources available, pick what’s right for you. For an online trainer, plans vary around $7 – 10 dollars a week. A 4 to 6 week training plan is usually around $50. Bootcamps – depending on the included resources – can range from $25 to $150.

  3. How much support do you need?

    Online personal trainers will usually be accessible to you by email and sometimes by skype for any questions, checkins or adjustments. Online (and gym!) boot camps fuel persistance by having fellow members cheer each other on. Free “get fit” plans require self-motivation.

    As I mentioned, when I signed up I wanted something that would be tailored to my needs so I was looking for some support in case I had any questions or needed any adjustments. I think the group support is one reason I would love to try a boot camp one day. Tara was awesome about sending me updated nutrition plans when I had a very late or very early morning workout.

  4. What is the relationship you want with your trainer or group?

    This may be more important to some than others. I know some people like the think of their trainer as a service-provider or someone who fulfills a professional need, while others want someone tough and strict, and others look for their trainer to become a very, very close friend.

    What was very important to me is my trainer supports my goals. I wanted a trainer who would support my desire to lift weights, would allow me to get protein in non-animal forms sometimes and would let me have the occasional treat. I went with Tara because we seemed to agree on all points so I trusted her with devising a plan just for me.

  5. How do you like to work out? What works best?

    The personal trainer is a fitness professional who should be trusted to devise a plan that will kick your butt and knock you out of your comfort zones into some new territories. But every trainer will ask you a bit about your likes and dislikes so you will be content with the plan. It’s important to find a plan that will cater towards your loves, whether that means you get to take your favorite spin class twice a week or split your strength training by certain body parts.

    I knew my body responded best to lifting weights but my plan kicked me out of my comfort zone by taking me to new machines and exercises. I also knew that because I care about adding muscle as much as I care about losing fat, I would not do well on a program where stepping on a scale every day is encouraged. Something like Weight Watchers where calorie counting and weigh-ins are part of the program isn’t as right for me.

  6. How much time can you dedicate to this plan?

    It is important to know both how long you’d like to be on a plan – whether it’s one month, 6 weeks, three months or longer (very usual durations) – and how much you can dedicate each week to the plan – a certain amount of hours or days a week – an hour four times a week perhaps.

    Because I was looking for some intensive results in a 6 week time frame, I trained 5 days-a-week.

  7. What are the trainer or program’s credentials?

    Most importantly, how can you be sure to trust this individual with your fitness and health?  Look up reviews and blogs by previous participants who discuss their experience. Locate the trainer’s professional certifications and read their blog, website or brochure to see their viewpoints and background. Make sure you feel comfortable in their qualifications and are sure they’ll support your goals.

    I read reviews before trying Live Fit Trainer; I looked for blogs of participants in various boot camps; I did a trial fitness assessment with my gym trainer and I sent Tara an information request before signing up with her. I found the proof I needed…and now I’m just another example of a success story.

To all the personal trainers and fitness enthusiasts out there, is there anything else a client should consider? How do you create the perfect match of trainer/program and client?

Mel’s Workout Plan

Hi Frandz!

I had a picture post all set to go for “My Monday” but it was more of the random nature I cooked up last week.  Maybe it will be best served as a go-to when I’m in Vegas NEXT WEEK!

Considering my Vegas trip is only 6 days out, I thought I’d revisit my goals a little bit and talk about the measures I’ve taken to crank out a hot bod.

Also, I realize that this is supposed to be a healthy living blog, right? Kinda sorta? To be honest, I started this blog because I loved hearing other’s stories and thought this would be a good way to relay my own. Already I’ve learned how much more difficult it is for me to tell my own stories; so now, I’d like to try to bring more substance and less random junk to the bale.

My Workout Picks

I’ve been working out pretty hard this month and with the help of Groupon and a new gym membership, have been trying some new classes. Every person has their favorite ways to workout and today I embody Kanye West to bring you Mel’s Work Out Plan…the way in which I see the best result for each body group.

  • Upper Body – Nothing challenges and shows results to my arms, shoulders and chest like Body For Life style work outs. I’ve never actually participated in a B4L challenge but I do like adopting their lifting technique because it allows for various levels of weight, times and quick results!
    • For those unfamiliar with Body For Life, the workouts are done with sets for each muscle group performed in a pyramid form. To summarize briefly, you select a muscle group (shoulders, chest, back biceps, triceps) and corresponding exercise and perform 5 sets with it – starting with 12 and slowly increasing weight as you continue with reps of 10, 8 and 6. Then after the pyramid, you follow with a medium, yet challenging weight for 12 reps of the same exercise, IMMEDIATELY followed by 12 reps of a 2nd exercise that works the same muscle group. For a  full explanation, read more here.
    • An example for a bicep work out could look like:
    • Move Weight in lbs Reps
      Hammer curl 3# 12
      5# 10
      8# 8
      10# 6
      8# 12
      Bicep curl 8# 12
  • Abs and Core – The name, CoreFusion, should imply it’s killer for the core..and it is! I first began Exhale Spa’s CoreFusion videos after a long exercise hiatus and after only a few viewings, I could already feel the improvement in total core strength. With various videos and classes, CoreFusion enables your core constantly with every exercise. Their motto is “strength in stillness” and each move, including their infamous C-curve is usually held and held. It’s a nice change from crunch after crunch. I like to throw in one ab segment from CoreFusion: Pure Abs & Arms after a total body workout class or cardio day.
  • Lower Body – For thighs and glutes I, again, hand it to CoreFusion. The CoreFusion: Body Sculpt – Thighs portion **my absolute favorite** & CoreFusion: Pilates Plus – Thighs and Glutes portion leave me feeling like I’ve trimmed down my legs every time I do them. I have curvy little legs and many other exercises beef them up more than I’d like or feel like nothing at all! I aim for a good CoreFusion lower body session where it’s hard for me to walk down stairs! I’ve done a few different videos and have actually seen more sleek calves after only 3 sessions.
  • Cardio – My new pick is Spinning. I’ve taken a few spin classes so far and have become enamored by the work outs. Spinning is notorious for it’s ability to crank your calories and your heart rate while keeping you entertained. I like pushing myself through a high resistance and have lately been working on speed. I’d like to attend a class by more youthful teachers, because right now my class’s music selection has only been old-school techno and Bruce Springsteen. Downfall: the sore butt never seems to go away and I develop a raging hunger after.
  • Stretch – I think it’s wonderful that CoreFusion incorporates stretching into their segments, lengthening as they tone and definitely improving noticeable results. Many of their stretches are taken from Yoga, the ultimate stretcher. As a dancer, I think stretching is the best feeling in the world. I would stretch for 15- 30 minutes everyday and it paid off in flexibility! Right now, I’m digging moves that stretch my hammies, hips and back.

I’ve tried to put it all together and my average work out schedule looks something like:

Sunday – CoreFusion video

Monday – Wild Card. It’s been off, Yoga, Spin, Extreme Pump, elliptical, etc.

Tuesday – Spin class

Wed – Extreme Pump class (my gym’s take on Body Pump) + 10 min CoreFusion abs

Thurs – off lately because I’ve had events after work

Fri – Spin Class

Sat – CoreFusion video and/ or BodyForLife upper body weights

Please note this is more of a compiled average. I like to keep it interesting, hate running and usually only go to the gym after work since it is significantly closer to work than home. Plus I CANNOT work out in the morning.

Any workouts I should try to kick my bod in gear?

Lastly, we had a stray cat visit our yard today and I leave you with the video of Tippy’s loud, territorial meowing at the stranger cat.

Editor’s note: I am not a licensed personal trainer, all opinions posted here are my own. Please consult with a doctor or trainer before creating your own routine.