Change It Up!

ZumbaYou know that exercise is important and you faithfully work out five times a week for 30-60 minutes at a time, but your fitness goals elude you.  Regardless of your goal – to lose weight, run a 10k in under an hour, or increase muscle mass – any plan for success can lead you astray if you fail to regularly check in with your progress and make appropriate changes when you hit a stalemate.   The idea is to assess what you’ve been doing, keep what works, and add in something that challenges you both physically and mentally to jumpstart a mundane routine.   Here are a few ideas to get you started:


This fitness craze is popular for a reason – it is fun and social, and you will use muscles in your trunk that you never knew existed as you shake and twist to a Latin groove.  Anyone can join these classes, but if you are unaccustomed to this type of activity, start by standing in the back, focusing on one body part at a time, and be sure to take a deep breath when you feel overwhelmed.  You may already belong to a gym that offers a Zumba class or its equivalent, but if not there are many other options to explore.  In the Portland area, check out these Zumba offerings: Portland Zumba, Diva Den Studio, Dance with Joy Studios, Soma Space, and PulsePDX.

Spin or Cycle Class

The methodical, consistent flow of biking works wonders to counteract the churning thoughts you may be left with at the end of the day, and many people find that a long bike ride leaves them calmer and better able to sort through their troubles.  Spinning takes a good idea and changes it up to bring your biking skills to a new level without the hassle of inclement weather, traffic, or scheduling conflicts.  Gyms such as LAFitness24-Hour Fitness, and Oregon Athletic Clubs offer regular cycling classes as part of your membership.

Aerial Fitness

Whether you are a seasoned yoga enthusiast or are just beginning to realize the benefits of stretching, aerial fitness offers an opportunity to improve your flexibility, trunk strength, and coordination.  With the aid of a fabric sling, participants manipulate their bodies into yoga forms mid-air, listen to calming music, and receive support and reminders from instructors to breathe well and keep good postural form.  Try Gravitas in SW Portland, or A-WOL Dance Company in North Portland.

Lift Weights

The importance of building and maintaining muscle mass cannot be understated; muscles work directly with tendons to literally hold your body together, and the action of these tissues pulling on bone stimulates the production of new bone growth.  For beginners, perform one set of each exercise using light weight for 20 repetitions with little to no rest between exercises.  Progress toward two-to-three sets of eight-to-15 repetitions, adding weight as necessary, and continue with more sets, less repetition, and higher weight as the muscle adapts to the resistance.  Incorporate full-body weight training into an exercise program one-to- two times a week, making sure to give at least a day’s rest between workouts to give the body an opportunity to recover and repair muscle tissue.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Most adults rarely move fast.  The effects of high intensity exercise – oxygen debt, muscle burn, increased body temperature, and a general sense of discomfort – can be frightening, but research shows that high-intensity, anaerobic exercise stimulates the release of growth hormone, the key ingredient to keeping the human body looking, feeling, and acting young.  Portland Team Fitness and Studio X in Portland offer full-body interval training classes on a drop-in basis, or purchase a package of classes.

By challenging old ways of thinking you make way for learning new skills and thus promote continued growth and prosperity throughout your lifetime, but it can be tough to get started.  If you are interested in making changes to your exercise routine but have doubts about your abilities, enlist the help of an active friend, or visit your local gym and seek out the assistance of a personal trainer.  With the proper support and education, change is not only possible; it is your best strategy for achieving optimal health and vitality.

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