Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Finding the right workout

One of my goals for this year is to get in shape. I signed up for the Savage Race in PA in June, so I needed to get started right away on getting fit. Or at least more fit.

My plan for January was to try as many classes as possible at the gym and see what I liked to do. I wanted to find things that didn't feel like exercise. Who says you can't have fun while working out? I went to the gym 11 times last month, and I am pretty proud of that number. I tried 4 different classes as well as using some machines and working out with a trainer. Two free sessions with a personal trainer came free with our annual membership.

Here are my thoughts on the things I've tried so far.


I had never tried an elliptical machine before. I was looking for something easy, but lower impact than running. I still have some tendonitis in my foot, so I don't want to go back to running quite yet. And I really kind of hate running.

The elliptical works out almost the same muscles as running, so I figured it would be good for getting me in shape for the running portion of the Savage Race. I didn't love working out on the elliptical, but it's a good workout for when I can't make a class, and I just want to listen to my audiobook.

I've only done it 3 times - twice with Jim during swim lessons and once alone. It's an OK choice, and I'm sure I'll use one again, but it's not going to be my top pick.

Kick Boxing

I've been going to a Saturday morning class with a couple of other moms from Christopher's kindergarten class. I enjoy this class. It's a great workout and an awesome way to let off some steam. Kicking and punching the bags can be a great way to relieve tension.

Two instructors alternate teaching this class every other Saturday. One of them focuses more on muscle building, while the other focuses more on cardio. It's a nice variety.

My first time (back in December) I hurt my back while doing the strengthening exercises in between boxing combinations, but since then I have taken it a little easier when doing anything in plank position, and I have been feeling really good and getting a great workout. I will definitely be continuing with this class.

Personal Trainer

Last Saturday I had to skip kick boxing to have my second appointment with the trainer. He had me use a variety of machines to work the major muscles of my arms, back, chest, abs, and legs. It was a more varied set of exercises than I would have come up with on my own.

Jim and I did the circuit together this Wednesday while Christopher was in swim lessons. It fit perfectly in that 45 minute time slot, and we got to spend a little time together. We adjusted the weights up a little for Jim of course, but it worked really well to alternate on the machines while the other person was in recovery. I know we'll do this again on future swim nights.


I admit I wasn't really sure what spin was a few years ago. More recently I knew it took place on exercise bikes, but I couldn't really envision what a class would be like. I'm not sure if I would have taken a class if one of my mom friends hadn't suggested we do the Tour de Cure fundraiser for diabetes together at the end of January.

I went to a beginner spin class earlier in that week, so I could learn what spin was before committing to the longer ride for the fundraiser. From that first class I was hooked! For anyone else who might not know, spin class is kind of like going on a group bike ride. There is loud music playing with a strong beat (think dance club, but not that loud), and the instructor has you vary the ride by increasing or decreasing the resistance on your bike to simulate flat roads or hills.

I freaking love it! The music is so motivating. And something about seeing everyone peddling their bikes makes me feel like a part of a giant machine. It feels like we're all working towards the same goal in a way that no other workout class has ever made me feel. I don't know if I can accurately describe it. The whole class I just kind of want to whoop or something. That's how pumped up it makes me feel.

And on top of all that, it's a crazy hard but exhilarating workout. I took Jim last Sunday because he loves to bike ride. I think he enjoyed it. We couldn't go this past Sunday because of a birthday party, so I went at 7:30 AM on Saturday instead. Jim wasn't up for that, but I think I'll get him to go back with me on future Sundays. And I'll be squeezing in one spin class per week for sure.


This class was a circuit class designed for toning muscles. We used hand weights, kettle bells, medicine balls, steps, exercise balls, and mats to work our whole bodies. Each station had 2 exercises for 60 seconds each, and then we rotated. It was very challenging.

And I wussed out and left after only 2 rotations instead of 3. I think I'll go back to that one, but I didn't love it like some of the others.


Something else I'd never tried and wasn't completely sure about is Zumba. I knew it was dancing for exercise, but I didn't know exactly what kind of dancing. I went alone last Thursday night because my muscles were too sore for the Pump class I had planned to take.

It was hilarious! I am an awful dancer. I mentally know how to dance, but physically I suck at it. I'm way to stiff. The music was mostly Latin, and the instructor had an accent from I don't know where, and he was an amazing dancer.

I laughed my butt off the whole class because I was so bad. Every time I figured out what we were supposed to be doing, he had moved on to something else. But I got about 9000 steps, so I can't complain. All of the changing directions and side-stepping hurt my knee though, so I don't think I'll be going back to that class.

I have to say though watching the women in the class flirting with the instructor was an added bonus.

I still want to try Pump, Yoga, Step, and swimming laps. I bought some prescription swim goggles for $15, so I'm hoping they might help me like swimming more.

What's your preferred workout or class? Anything else I should try?


  1. Wow! Good for you! I really like riding my bike but have never taken a spin class. My husband is a super active road biker and recently purchased a bike trainer so he could keep up with his riding in the winter months. Sometimes I think about doing that, too, because I can just do it in my house and won't have to leave for the gym...lazy! :-P I think the hardest thing for me right now is finding a good time to dedicate to exercise. I was doing super early morning workouts for a long time but struggled with them because I am NOT a morning person at all.

    1. I hear you. Finding the time is hard! One of the nice things about this gym is that they have free childcare. And while Christopher complains when I saw we're going, he always has a great time when we get there.

      We tried those stands that convert normal bikes into stationary bikes years ago, but they were too loud, and we couldn't watch TV while biking. I am terrible at working out at home even though it should be more convenient. I need the motivation of a class setting and an instructor "yelling" at me to keep me working.

  2. Exercise review - I love it! Yeah, I find the machines kind of boring, and I find myself slacking off on them. I work with a trainer once or twice a month, just because she challenges me. And I take a yoga class once a week, just to mix it up. Then I walk the dog. Sometimes I hate all of it (sorry, dog!) but I think that trying new things is good!
    Jen @ YA Romantics

    1. Having someone push you is definitely helpful. I really enjoy yoga. I'm going to try to make a class next week. I definitely don't love exercise. I hear ya there! :)

  3. That is awesome you tried so many things!! Right now anything that is outside the home for me is pretty much a no go on time/child care. I do have an elliptical which I like because I can't have the impact of running. I also do some work out videos when the kids go to sleep. I loved Yoga classes and hope to get back to them when both kids are in school. I would love to try kick boxing! I think I would be like you in Zumba!!

    1. One of the great things about this gym is the free child care. It's definitely making it easier to get there. And they have an awesome pool, so we often reward Christopher for going to child care by letting him swim afterwards.

      I worked out at home on our treadmill when he was younger. I like the low impact of the elliptical too though. Kick boxing is super fun! You should definitely try it if you get the chance. :)