Changing up workouts resolves gym bloopers
January 4, 2011
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As I sprinted down the hill, I only heard “Run faster!” and “I’m about to trample you.” The sprint down Jacob’s Well ended with a plank position and a kick in the stomach. Remind me why I’m paying for this?
Like most daily gym-goers, I was getting bored with my elliptical and stair-climber routine. I wasn’t seeing any results, so I needed to add a little spice to my humdrum workout.
I have always envied runners’ sleek, toned legs, so I tried running distances. But after jogging a mile or two, I’d be huffing and puffing.
I decided to make a change. I hired a personal trainer, Calvin Waid, from the Arena Club.
Waid pointed out my poor exercising habits. Sticking to the same workout every day wouldn’t provide the results I wanted.
Waid began my evaluation this past July by asking what I hoped to accomplish by the end of the summer. According to Waid, it is a trainer’s job to help clients realize and shape their goals by developing “a logical and progressive plan.”
I heard from other trainers that Waid was very imaginative, but I had never heard to what extent. “In the past, I’ve taken clients outside and done everything from a simple run to scuba diving under frozen lakes and technical mountain biking,” Waid said.
Because my biggest gym blooper was doing the same thing day after day, he was just what I needed.
Depending on the individual’s goals, mixing up the time spent exercising can be beneficial.
“Your body holds its posture in space against forces exerted from every angle you can imagine, so mixing it up is great to keep the body active in every plane of motion,” Waid said.
“If you work the muscles repeatedly the same way over long periods of time, you can develop negative compensation patterns,” he said. Repetitive muscle activity use can result in muscle imbalances and joint problems.
From that point on, I spent two days each week running outside in the blazing heat: a distance run to warm up and sprints to keep my heart rate high. I would also swim laps outside in the pool. I received awkward stares from body builders as I hoisted heavy metal bars into the air for dead lifts and as I squat-jumped my way to a Beyoncé-worthy rear end.
Before working with a trainer, I never had a plan for my workouts.
But Waid never had a day without a full itinerary.
“You can drive across the U.S. from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific without looking at a map, but where are you going to end up—sunny California or rainy Portland, Oregon? You need a target to aim for, or you’re shooting blindly,” Waid said.
Like most girls, I was afraid to lift heavy weights. I didn’t want to return to school looking like the Hulk. Waid helped me realize that lifting is also important to weight loss, toning and speed improvement.
“Girls have lower testosterone levels than men and do not build muscle quite as quickly as men, but the truth is there are different movements that women should favor over men,” Waid said.
“For example, many women would like a thinner thigh. Doing squats will make the thigh grow, whereas performing a simple single-legged raise with the knee not bent will build the quadricep from its attachment point near the hip, allowing it to develop a longer, leaner muscle,” he said.
Women’s Health Magazine suggests lifting weights three times a week, allowing for rest in between.
“Your body rebuilds itself stronger during rest. You want to build a stronger, more sculpted body so you stress it, then you let it settle into the mold that you created,” Waid said.
Waid believes that by mixing up his clients’ routines and implementing strenuous activities, he brings back a piece of their youth.
“When you were a kid you climbed trees, hopped fences, and ran across fields. You played, and play involves movement,” he said.
“So as we get older and the imagination starts to dull, we quit playing and hire someone to structure our play time, usually in a way that fits our schedules. So weights replace a lot of the strain your body would normally get if you were out playing hard all day,” he said.
Working out with a trainer has shown me numerous results, more than I ever imagined. And it was all because I managed to step out of my comfort zone.
“At the end of the day, it’s really about playing harder than you did the day before. Play will preserve your youth and keep you happy,” Waid said.