Getting on the workout bandwagon and achieving your personal fitness goals can seem intimidating—and downright confusing—especially given the endless exercise fads that beckon come January. But get-fit trends aren’t the key to long-term success. To help you kick-start a new year of health and wellness—and actually get the body you want—we teamed up with a Tier 4 Coach from Equinox, Edward Gemdjian, to go beyond hype and get back to basics. Behold, your uncomplicated 2015 fitness roadmap. Keep reading to get started!
Your best bet for getting started in 2015 (and staying on track) is to join a broad-based gym that offers many options. If you’re getting back into shape after the holidays or a longer fitness hiatus, you don’t want to pigeonhole yourself by signing up for a niche studio that only offers one type of class. Not only could you get bored, the workout might not challenge your body in different ways.
Most broad-based gyms have everything you need: strength training, cardio, yoga, group fitness, and personal training, and a variety of styles in each of those categories. “It may take a while, but you’re far more likely to find something you’ll want to go back to and enjoy doing long-term,” says Gemdjian.
Simply put, you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew at the beginning of the year. It’s the easiest way to burn out, get demoralized, and lose steam. “I’ve seen too many people come in and go too hard right away,” says Gemdjian. “If your first couple of workouts of the year leave you sore for days, you’re less likely to make exercise a habit. Play the long game.”
Gemdjian suggests working out two to three times per week for one hour. When that becomes consistent, add a day. “The most successful clients I’ve had are not the ones who work the hardest or show up the most times in January,” says Gemdjian. “It’s the clients who show up consistently and make fitness a part of their lives long term.”
Depending on your goals, exercise history, and physical abilities, your one-hour workouts will vary, but Gemdjian says doing functional exercises that involve multiple muscles moving in varying directions are best. The purpose of functional exercises is to mimic "natural" movements, the sort of actions you do in everyday life, like taking out the garbage, moving furniture, or running after your toddler with a bag of groceries in your hands—which is as no-frills fitness as it gets.
With functional exercises, you can skip your typical, new-fangled weight machines and use basic equipment like medicine balls and kettle balls instead.
Gemdjian says the most important thing to focus on when working out is pushing yourself, without overtraining. Safety and avoiding unnecessary strain and injury is key. Use proper form, and consult someone if you aren’t sure.
Pain is a signal that something is wrong, so always listen to your body and don’t hurt yourself. If it’s within your budget, you may want to consult with a fitness professional in the beginning, so you can set yourself up for success. “Even if you can only afford five training sessions, they are best used as education at the start of your fitness journey,” says Gemdjian.
You’re far more likely to make fitness part of your lifestyle if it’s actually fun—so take measures to ensure that working out is enjoyable for you. Watch your favorite guilty pleasure reality TV show while you use the Elliptical; enlist your best friend to do a kickass cardio boxing class to burn major calories; take a Zumba or hip-hop dance class; and make an epic playlist with your favorite pump-up jams that inspire you to enjoy running.
They don’t say variety is the spice of life for nothing. Variety is the key both to ensure things stay fun and to prevent a fitness plateau. “Not only does your brain get tired of doing the same exercise, your body actually adapts and the exercise becomes less effective in eight to 12 weeks,” explains Gemdjian. “Change up your routines often so you have a new challenge for your body and your mind,” he says. Check out our story on six new moves to add to your workout routine, here.
If you hate waking up early, there’s no need to force yourself to be a morning exerciser. It will only make you dread it and undermine your long-term ability to stick to your plan. “The most important thing is that the workout fits into your schedule so you can come back and exercise consistently,” says Gemdjian. “Beyond that, I only worry about the nuances of timing with elite athletes.” So unless you fall into the elite athlete category, work out when it works for you.
If you can’t make it to the gym, there are lots of bodyweight exercises that are easy to learn and require no equipment. Gemdjian’s top four no-frills moves for getting fit are squats, pull-ups, push-ups, and multi-directional lunges (forward, sideways, and backwards). “If you move in new and challenging ways—your body will thank you,” he says.
Check out our fitness section here for more moves and workout hacks to discover, and share your fitness goals for 2015 below!