7 workouts that work
Exercise only keeps you healthy if you do it. Here are 7 workout options that will keep you motivated, having fun and on track
Find an activity you enjoy
How many times have you tried the latest exercise craze only to discover it didn’t live up to its promise? You want to get healthy and stay active, but you find yourself overwhelmed with all the fads and fast-fixes. Well, don’t give up. There are simple and effective exercise programs out there just waiting for you to give them a try.
How do you know which workout is right for you? The cardinal rule of fitness is to find an activity that you like. “If people don’t enjoy what they’re doing, they’re more likely to skip workouts and end up hating exercise altogether,” says Marci Lall, a weight loss and body sculpting specialist in Toronto. Finding a workout that inspires you is the key to your success. “The right type of workout and one that works well for your body can be the determining factor in whether or not you see results,” says Lall. Here are the best exercise programs that Lall suggests to help keep you motivated, challenge your body and burn calories.
1. Circuit Training
Circuit training, a combination of strength training and aerobic exercises, is great for cardiovascular health and building up muscle. This workout usually involves a range of stations utilizing resistance equipment and space to do a series of exercises that could include squats, skipping, push-ups and jumps. Circuit training can also incorporate interval training, or alternating between low- and high-intensity exercise. Circuit training can be done on your own, as a group or in a class setting.
2. Boot Camp
Participating in a boot camp allows you to work as a group to get fit, lose weight and increase strength. Often taught outdoors, boot camp classes offer a combination of running, interval training and exercises involving weights. The goal is to utilize the social support of those around you to encourage you on your fitness journey. Instructors have participants do things like body weight exercises, machine weights or even plyometrics (jumping/leaping exercises). Hit your local gym or community group and check out a class in action.
3. High Intensity Training (H.I.T.)
H.I.T. involves very short, intense training sessions of aerobic and muscular exercise. It’s beneficial for burning fat and strengthening cardiovascular health. A typical session would start out with a short warm-up. Then, the participant would rotate between a moderate aerobic exercise (e.g., jogging), an intense aerobic exercise (e.g., sprinting) and a movement that involves many muscle groups (e.g., lunging) for short bursts of time. The cycle can be repeated with different types of movement.
This aerobic exercise is done on a stationary bicycle in a class format. Motivational music plays and the instructor take you through different visualizations that mimic an outdoor ride (uphill, downhill, turns, etc.). Spinning is a popular choice as classes can burn up to 450 calories in 45 minutes and help to tone the thighs, glutes and arms. Spinning requires intense focus so it is a great option for people who enjoy being challenged both mentally and physically. If you are new to exercise, you might want to consider a beginners’ class that is less intense and will introduce you to the various movements.
5. Fitness/ dance hybrid classes
There are many dance-based fitness classes popping up at health clubs. Zumba is a great example of this and one of the most popular. This class uses Latin rhythms in a highly choreographed routine. Not only do Zumba classes help tone and sculpt the body, but they also have the same fat-burning power as regular exercise routines do. Hybrid classes are a great option for women who have a lot of energy and love to strut their stuff.
6. Stability ball workouts
Stability balls improve your workout because the unstable surface of the ball forces the body to engage more muscles to maintain balance. The core body muscles (abs and back) are targeted along with the muscles you are exercising. For example, instead of standing while doing upper body exercises, sit on the ball and perform the movements. Stability balls are great for home use and there is a wide variety of DVDs available to help you with your workout.
7. Combat workouts
Boxing or kickboxing moves are great for self-defense as well as general fitness. There are many different types of combat workouts, depending on the instructor and level of proficiency. The classes will include a variety of jabs, ducks, punches and kicks. Many fitness clubs offer a modified version of boxing without any physical contact. Boxing employs both cardio and resistance training, and you can burn 600 to 800 calories in a 45- to 60-minute class. Your agility, endurance, and coordination will also improve.
What workouts work for you? Share them in the comments.