“Hi Natasha! I’m loving your blog and hope to one day be as fit as you! I was wondering how you developed your workout routines. I’m just starting out and am feeling overwhelmed with all the options!” ~ Nicole
Thanks for the note Nicole! I get this question a lot and I will say that effective workouts are one of those things that vary from person to person. My first suggestion would be to hire a great Personal Trainer.
A poor personal trainer will have a set formula that they follow for every client, insisting that the plan works for everyone so if for some reason it doesn’t motivate you, then you must be the problem! But do your homework and find a great PT who knows how to find out what gets you most motivated and who will craft a unique workout program just for you (that’s what you’re paying for, after all!).
If you can’t afford a PT, there are plenty of ways to discover what forms of exercise will keep you most motivated and do this on your own. But first, you need to find out what kind of exerciser you are!
Type 1: The Gym Rat
This is definitely my preferred type of exercise. I am most motivated when I’m in a gym with other people around me. Maybe it’s the exhibitionist in me, or just the fact that I’m a genuine extrovert, but I seem to have the highest energy when I’m around others and this is also true in my workouts.
If you like working out in a gym:
- Hire a Personal Trainer! If you can’t afford to work with them regularly, find one who will build a program for you for a set fee where you meet with them every three months to check your progress and change up your routine. This can cost as little as $100 (that’s a dollar a day!) and if you do your homework on finding the right trainer, is well worth the investment.
- If a trainer just isn’t an option for you, try combing through fitness magazines (I recommend Oxygen Magazine for weight-training routines and cardio plans) and pick a few routines you can focus on for the next 8-12 weeks.
- Look for group classes that interest you. The more you experiment with different types of workouts, the more you’ll start to fine-tune exactly the kind of workouts you love doing. I did a week-long free trial at a local martial arts gym and discovered how much I enjoy doing Olympic weight lifting! I now incorporate these super-effective moves into my leg days and it didn’t cost me a cent.
Type 2: The Homebody
If you like working out at home:
- Find out more about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Steady-state cardio isn’t a complete waste but there is plenty of science which explains why results are significantly better when you mix it up with HIIT.
- Try out exercise DVD’s at the library that challenge you (Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred is a good start!) and then buy the ones you like most.
- Look for a high quality spin bike (not a recumbent bike — those are ineffective, to say the least) that you can rent for a few months to see if it’s something you enjoy. It’s simple to spin during your favourite tv shows (just go hard during the commercials!) or as a start to your day. Better to spend some money up front in renting one rather than buying something you might not enjoy or use. If you do end up loving it, look for secondhand spin bikes and don’t settle for a less than stellar model.
Type 3: The Group Junkie
Perhaps you are the type who loves group exercise and find yourself most motivated when you are around other like-minded people. If so, there are plenty of ways to tap into that!
If you love working out with others:
- Join a dance class, a certified CrossFit gym, a running clinic, or my favourite: a kettlebell class! Keep trying new things until you find the one that makes you excited to work out!
- If money’s an issue, find a Meetup group in your area that exercises together and make that your “class”. There are plenty of fitness-related groups on Meetup and I often see free bootcamp classes offered.
- Find a friend! Nothing is more effective than a workout partner. All your justifications and excuses will take a back seat when you know someone will be waiting for you in the parking lot at 6 am. Stayed up too late? Kids were up through the night? Feeling a bit under the weather? You’ll get over it. Because your friend showed up and you will, too. With tools like Facebook, we’re connected with hundreds of
Friendsacquaintances and you may be surprised at who will be open to having a workout buddy. Figure out what you want (6 am weekday runs? After work gym sessions?) and then put it out there. You won’t know until you ask!
Once you know what type of exerciser you are, it’s a lot easier to find healthy activities that get you excited about fitness and to make it a passionate part of your life, rather than a chore. If you think that none of these three describe you, it might be because you haven’t discovered your true self yet! For example, many women are terrified of the gym but it’s really because they’re overweight and clueless about the equipment. Once they grow in confidence, they find out they absolutely love working out!
The first step is always the hardest. But you will never regret taking it!
Did I forget another type of exerciser? Let me know in the comments!