How To Prevent Your Muscles From Getting Sore After A Workout

How To Prevent Your Muscles From Getting Sore After A Workout

By Alina Gonzalez, Byrdie (TNS)

If you asked me what the worst part about working out is, the answer wouldn’t be the exercise itself. It would be the seemingly unavoidable post-exercise soreness. And aside from the discomfort itself, the muscle soreness straight-up precludes a next-day workout. Your muscles are so sore that you couldn’t do a squat if you tried; you can barely sit down on the couch, let alone do another boot camp, HIIT or kickboxing class.

Then it takes a couple of days to recover, and you’ve lost momentum; it’s like you’re being punished for trying hard. Yet experts agree that if you’re doing the kind of lightweight, leisurely exercise that doesn’t leave you sore afterward, you’re not really changing your body.

However, the trick that effectively and consistently eliminates post-exercise soreness: taking an Epsom salt bath after exercising.

“I make my own scented Epsom salt mixtures with the salts and essential oils,” Byrdie co-founder Hillary Kerr said. “It’s this very inexpensive, very old-school way of dealing with muscle soreness, but it’s honestly helped like nothing else.

It’s better than massage, better than stretching, better than any kind of arnica balm or Tiger Balm, and better than ibuprofen–ibuprofen can’t touch this. It’s life changing, in the sense that with some of these workouts, my legs would be so sore afterward that it would prevent me from going to work out again the next day. So I would have to take time off, in between, and then you feel like you’re never getting anywhere.”

Kerr said she will do it at night, after she comes home from a workout, and if the workout was particularly rigorous, she sometimes will double up and do it again in the morning: “It makes your legs feel like they are fresh and alive.”

She learned the Epsom salt soak trick from her trainer, Lauren Kleban of LEK Fit, who used to be a Tracey Anderson trainer and now has a private studio with classes such as trampoline cardio. But Kerr eventually began customizing it with essential oils.

“Donna Karan is really into essential oils, and I had a meeting with her awhile ago in which she gave me two different kinds,” Kerr said. “One is a clove-based essential oil, and the other is lavender–so I use the lavender one at night because it also has relaxation properties, and I’ll use the other one in the morning because it, along with peppermint, is good for waking you up.”

Kerr further customizes her blends based on her plans and how she feels. For instance, one night when she wanted to relax after a rigorous workout but was heading out for cocktails afterward, she mixed lavender and peppermint to both soothe her muscles but also wake her up a bit.

“It’s so old-school you assume it can’t possibly be as effective as people say, so it very much surprised me that it worked this well,” she said.

But don’t let your newfound comfort lull you into skipping a soak session, warns Kerr.

“Every once in a while, I’ll think I might not need to do it. Because I’ve been taking class four days a week for a while, so I got to the point where I was like, oh maybe I don’t need to do this. And I skipped it one day and very much noticed. My legs felt heavy and dead and sore the next day, and I was just sort of a loser in class.”

Well that’s a feeling we can relate to wholeheartedly–those days when you’re sore and giving class about 20 percent of the exertion rate you would be if you didn’t ache all over.

“It’s 1,000 percent helping me because I need all of the help I can get when it comes to motivation,” Kerr said. “So anything I can do to bounce back as quickly as possible is very important to me, and that’s why this has been truly a miraculous game changer. And I know people have heard about it, but I don’t think people understand how effective it is.”

Kerr mixes two cups of dry Epsom salts with a non-precise mixture of essential oils, pours it into a hot bath, and soaks for 20 minutes.

Photo by Nina Nelson via Flickr

Want To Build Lean Muscle? Eat These Foods

Want To Build Lean Muscle? Eat These Foods

By Alina Gonzalez, Byrdie (TNS)

Lean muscle: It’s what we all want, right? Long, toned muscles that look elegant–not “bulky.” We talked to Jenn Randazzo, a registered dietitian with a masters degree in nutrition and dietetics, for the best foods to eat for muscles, as well as some general background on building the body you want.

First, let’s start with a little lesson on lean muscles. What does that even mean?

“Something I hear time and time again is, ‘I don’t want to build muscle; I just want to become more toned,’ but guess what? Building muscle and toning muscle are the exact same thing.” Randazzo said.

“Our total body composition is composed of four things: fats, fluids, mineral mass and lean body mass. This lean body mass includes all of our muscles, which are fat-free cells in the body, and lean muscle is just a popular expression. Lesson here: Muscle is muscle.”

In other words? All muscle is inherently lean. So if you’re building muscle, it’s going to be fat-free and lean.

“When you hear people say they want to be more toned and lean, what they really want is to build strength in their body while reducing their total amount of body fat. This concept is typically referred to as the “strength-to-weight ratio,” she said.

So how does one “build” muscle with diet? Muscle is built when it gets broken down by the body.

“Especially during exercise, the protein-packed structures within the muscle become depleted of their glycogen stores, resulting in muscle fatigue,” Randazzo said.

“Ever ‘bonked’ mid-workout because your muscles have ached so badly? This is exactly what you’re feeling. Because the body perceives this work as an ‘injury,’ the immune system is triggered, sending in special proteins to help begin repairing the damaged muscle tissues–so the body can focus on repairing and muscle to rebuild from. To effectively rebuild muscles, diet becomes especially important,” she said.

Berries, oranges, dates.

Randazzo said these fresh whole-food fruits contain valuable phytonutrients and antioxidants “while providing that much-needed easily digestible carbohydrate immediately after a workout. These fruits are considered lower-glycemic fruits, so they’ll give those muscles what they need without spiking your blood sugar.” She suggests 1/2 cup berries, one medium orange, or mashed dates on a piece of sprouted whole grain toast, 20 minutes after a workout.

Roasted pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds

These nutrient-packed seeds and nuts are perfect on-the-go proteins that help keep you full yet energized and provide post-workout protein to rebuild muscle. For optimal portion and timing, Randazzo recommends { cup roasted pumpkin seeds or 1/3 cup almonds or cashews, 45 minutes after a workout.


“These heart-healthy fruits are the bomb!” Randazzo said about avocados. “Perfect additions to a smoothie, salad, tacos, or just eaten by themselves (maybe with a little salt and pepper), avocados help refuel the body while managing the inflammation.”

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The Diet Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes, According To A Nutritionist

The Diet Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes, According To A Nutritionist

By Alina Gonzalez, Byrdie (TNS)

When it comes to the eating habits, there’s always room for improvement. To help us get a handle on what to eat and what not to eat, we consulted Alexandra Samit, Be Well health coach at Dr. Frank Lipman’s famed Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, for the most common diet mistakes people make, without realizing it.

Mistake: Eating egg white omelets

“I can’t bear to hear one more person order egg whites,” Samit said. “Egg whites alone lack many of the nutrients that are found in the yolk, a nutrition powerhouse. Egg yolks contain antioxidants; B vitamins, including B12; vitamin A; iron; selenium; biotin; phosphorous; choline; and other various trace nutrients.

It’s time to change your mind about egg yolks, as numerous studies have shown that cholesterol in eggs do not affect the cholesterol levels in your blood. Poached eggs over a salad or scrambled eggs with grass-fed bacon are very healthy meals.”

Mistake: Eating a carb-loaded breakfast

“Eating too many carbs at breakfast leads to spikes in insulin levels and sets you up for cravings later in the day,” Samit said. “It’s best to have protein and healthy fats in the morning. An omelet (with the yolk), or a smoothie blended with healthy fats such as avocado, almond butter, coconut oil or MCT oil would be a much better option than cereal or a muffin,” even the healthy, whole wheat kinds.

Samit recommends the following easy smoothie recipe: 2 handfuls kale, \ cup raspberries, \ avocado, 1 Be Well Sustain packet, 4 ounces almond milk, 4 ounces water and a few ice cubes. Blend and enjoy!

Mistake: Buying Gluten-Free Packaged Goods

“We all know by now the havoc that gluten can wreak on our digestion, skin, energy levels, moods and more,” Samit said. “However, gluten-free packaged goods still need to be categorized as processed junk. There is nothing healthy about many of the gluten-free cakes and cookies out there. They need to be viewed as desserts and treats, saved for the seldom occasion.

A better alternative would be a chocolate chia seed pudding, like the one we make here at Be Well. It’s delicious and low in sugar. Blend 1 can coconut milk, 2 tablespoons raw cacao, 3 tablespoons chia seeds and stevia (to taste) in a blender, and let set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.”

Mistake: Drinking a green juice that’s high in sugar

“Think all green juice is healthy? Think again,” Samit said. “I have seen green juices that have up to 50 grams of sugar. That’s more than a soda. Remember, sugar is sugar, even if it’s fructose (the natural sugar in fruit). Order green juices with just half a green apple and some lemon or ginger for flavor. These are much better than juices from high-sugar fruits like pineapple and watermelon.

The same goes for smoothies. Whether you are ordering them or making them at home, use a touch of raw honey or stevia for sweeteners instead of adding agave or fruit juices. You can also substitute avocado for banana to make it thick and creamy, with less sugar.”

Mistake: Using butter substitutes

“Saturated fat does not cause heart disease, and therefore butter (from grass-fed cows) is no longer the enemy,” said Samit. “Margarine and processed spreads that are used as butter substitutes contain chemicals, artificial flavorings and food colorings, all of which are foreign ingredients that our bodies don’t know how to properly digest.

A good-quality butter from grass-fed cows is a better option. Butter contains vitamins A, K2, D and E, along with many other key health-supporting nutrients and minerals. And, as said before, using a full-fat natural ingredient will help you stay full and satiated, eliminating cravings and spikes in blood sugar.”

Mistake: Eating low-fat dairy

“Low-fat dairy products are nutritionally void,” Samit explains. “Both the cells in our bodies and our hormones need fat to efficiently function. Fat-free products also tend to be full of sugar and lead to a spike in insulin levels, which then leads to fat storage, as they lack the healthy fats that balance out the sugars from the lactose.

Prepackaged low-fat or fat-free dairy products also have a ton of added sugars to re-add flavor from the lack of fat. If you can tolerate dairy, full-fat goat cheese or full-fat yogurt can be healthy alternatives.”

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(c)2015, Clique Media Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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Indoor vs. Outdoor Exercising: Which Is More Productive?

Indoor vs. Outdoor Exercising: Which Is More Productive?

By Alina Gonzalez, Byrdie (TNS)

People tend to lean heavily on the gym when it comes to exercise, even in Los Angeles, where summer is endless and some of the best hiking can be found in our backyard. The gym is just an easy concept: You go, the machines are right there (or classes, depending on what you do), you get the workout done, and you leave. But maybe that’s the point/problem.

Is it better for your body, health, and fitness goals, to work out outdoors, where terrain varies and nothing is as smooth as the treadmill belt or class floor? It depends on so many factors, but the short answer is yes: Science says it is, in fact, better to exercise outdoors.

There are variations depending on the workout you’re doing. Take running, for example. In a study that looked at runners who covered the same distance on a treadmill and outdoors, the group that ran inside expended less energy than the outside group. This is because of terrain changes and wind velocity, which you don’t face in the controlled climate of a gym. So in short, you get more bang for your buck running three miles outside than running three miles inside.

Your body has to work harder to do so, and thus you burn more calories. Running inside also doesn’t enable you to run downhill, a movement which, even if it’s as minor as a sidewalk divot or curb, flexes and engages different muscles. The same has been shown for biking, both with regard to wind resistance outside, downhill movements, and one other thing — turning.

There’s another consideration that makes exercising outside more strenuous, specifically in warmer months, whether you’re running, biking, or hiking: temperature. In most gyms, unless you’re taking a hot yoga class, the A/C will be blasting to keep you cool and comfortable. More pleasant? Yes. But does it mean you’re expending less energy (aka calories) and sweating less than you would if you were doing the same activity in the great outdoors? Also yes.

Additionally, a systematic study on the effects of physical activity outside in a natural environment versus indoors showed that among people doing the same activity, the outdoor exercisers showed “greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement; decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression; and increased energy” afterward. Participants also reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and declared a greater intent to repeat the activity at a later date — i.e., they were more motivated to work out again.

All that said, working outside has its limitations. From inclement weather to safety concerns, it’s not always an option. And while working out among trees, fresh air, and the sun offers more beautiful and stimulating surroundings than the walls of a gym, the gym provides variety in the form of options, from the weight machines to Zumba or boxing. The bottom line? Switch up your workout and get outside as much as you can, both for its physical and mental health benefits, but don’t sweat it (pun intended) if the gym is a more practical choice for you. Doing any workout is amazing for your body and health.

(c)2015, Clique Media Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Tim Geers via Flickr

Seven Cult Workouts That Changed Fitness

Seven Cult Workouts That Changed Fitness

By Alina Gonzalez, Byrdie (TNS)

With summer fast approaching, we’re looking at some of the biggest movements to ever hit the exercise industry. From Spinning that’s dedicated to self-love to the do-it-anywhere resistance workout that began in the Navy SEALs, these workouts took the fitness world by storm, changing people’s lives along the way. Sometimes, the elliptical and stationary bike becomes a bit too boring to incite inspiration, and that’s where these cult classes come in. If you’ve hit a rut or are looking to bust out of a plateau in time for that bikini body, you’re in the right place.

Body by Simone
Body by Simone, or as the in-crowd knows it, “BBS,” is a dance-based regimen that’s the brainchild of its namesake, Simone de la Rue. Each class is a full-body, high-intensity dance cardio workout that involves mini-trampolines, jump ropes, and dedicated Pilates-based ab and arm work. Celebrity devotees include Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, and Naomi Watts, and though that A-list roster speaks for itself, it’s difficult to doubt the effectiveness of the workout once you see de la Rue’s toned, lean body. Physical inspiration aside, her boundless energy, bouncy personality, and approachable demeanor will motivate you like no other. Though Body by Simone studios currently only exist in New York City and Los Angeles, you can participate in online workouts via Simone TV, and de la Rue’s first book (Body by Simone: The 8-Week Total Body Makeover Plan) just came out last month.

Try this if: You want a dancer’s body.
Summary: All the benefits of Pilates but with the fast pace of a high-energy cardio class. Expect to sweat and have fun.

Barry’s Bootcamp
Like jumping off a cliff into the ocean and seeing the Eiffel Tower in person, Barry’s Bootcamp is simply something you have to try at least once in your life. It’s truly an experience like no other. The one-hour workout takes the format of an amped-up boot camp, split between cardio and strength training (30 minutes of each) and with music to make you feel like you’re in a club. Once the lights turn down, you’ll run on a treadmill at speeds you didn’t know you could reach, propelled forward by pumping tunes, sheer adrenaline, mutual support from your fellow boot campers, and incredibly uplifting instructors. You’ll squat, press, lift, and crunch; and as soon as it’s over, you’ll want to do it again. The cult workout is particularly popular because it’s gender neutral, so it’s not uncommon to find couples attending together on a Sunday morning or whenever the urge to sweat strikes. Hard-core fitness dudes love it just as much as lean-body-seeking gals. Fridays through Sundays are “full body” days, while the other days of the week focus on specific areas. Barry’s has locations across the country.

Try this if: You want to get slim and strong — fast — and enjoy high-intensity workouts.
Summary: The most hard-core boot camp you will ever try, with bumpin’ jams blasting to make it fly by. Its claim to fame is that you can burn approximately 1,000 calories per class.

The Bar Method
Barre-based workouts that fuse ballet, Pilates, and strength-training moves have surged in popularity over the last few years, and you can basically thank The Bar Method for starting the trend. As the original barre workout, it began as one studio founded by Burr Leonard and her husband in 2001 and has since expanded to 75-plus locations nationwide with a seriously devoted fan base. Anyone who knows someone who has taken a Bar Method class knows that once you start, you don’t stop. The one-hour classes involve ever-changing series of exercises (so you never get bored, no matter how often you go) that target the arms, thighs, seat, back, and abs and help improve posture and alignment for more of a dancer’s body.
Try this if: You want to strengthen and tone while sculpting lean muscle.
Summary: A non-impact, ballet-based strength-training workout that will make your muscles shake and burn from repetitive, isolated movements.

Personal fitness has highly emotional influence in its strengthening, healing, empowering ways, and SoulCycle taps into that soul-affirming aspect of working out. In addition to being a fitness party where everyone claps and cheers and encourages one another to the soundtrack of super-motivating music and instructor support, the Spinning class has come to be known as a place of catharsis. Many people have taken up SoulCycle after suffering a loss, experiencing divorce, or recovering from cancer and found it to be their therapy. It’s a communal, uplifting space to push your limits and get all the resulting feel-good endorphins.

Try this if: Spinning is your preferred exercise of choice and you want to work hard with fun music and people.
Summary: A high-intensity Spinning class that will make you feel the love.

Zumba has been around as a dance form for decades, but the Zumba in question? It’s the particular brand of dance cardio that got its own trademark. The high-energy Latin fitness program combines elements of salsa, samba, mambo, and merengue with traditional bodyweight resistance exercises like squats, leg lifts, and lunges — and people are crazy about it. It’s impossible not to smile, laugh, and enjoy the heck out of yourself while partaking in a Zumba class, which partly explains why it’s become such a cult favorite (the other part is its calorie-burning, core-sculpting potential). You can try hard-core Zumba (wearing the gear and everything) or you can dabble in Zumba, but either way, you have a really good time.

Try this if: You like dancing and want to feel like you’re not working out.
Summary: A Latin dance-fitness fusion class that is fun as hell.

Tracy Anderson Method
There’s a lot to say about the Tracy Anderson Method, but perhaps this one phrase says it all: Gwyneth Paltrow’s body. Yes, Gwyneth’s indestructible abs and long, lean frame that has only gotten better and more enviable with age are the result of dedication to trainer and fitness guru Tracy Anderson’s Method workout. It focuses on strengthening the small “accessory muscles” that support the larger muscle groups in your body. The Method program is famed to be “transformative” no matter your body type and above all promises to deliver one clear thing: long, lean muscles. Though there are only four locations nationwide (two in L.A. and two in New York), her website offers video streaming subscriptions for various programs so you can work toward GP’s bod in your own living room.

Try this if: You want a long, lean dancer’s body.
Summary: Celeb-approved danced-based and strength-training moves that make you strong and lean.

TRX training is such a simple concept, yet the possibilities of what you can do are boundless. Using a suspension band attached to a stable structure (for example, hung over a door), you wrap both your hands (or one, depending on the exercise at hand) and use gravity and your body weight to perform strengthening exercises. Developed in the Navy SEALs, it improves balance, flexibility, and core stability and can be done anywhere. Beloved by male and female celebs alike, from professional athletes to supermodels, the program exercises the full body in every plane of motion, all using your own body weight. The workout has become so popular and respected in the fitness world that TRX-based classes are now offered at gyms across the country.

Try this if: You want to learn a versatile workout to do anytime, anywhere.
Summary: Strength training and muscle sculpting done using the weight of your own body.

(c)2015, Clique Media Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: USAG Livorno PAO via Flickr

How I Got Back On A Fitness Regimen After 10 Years Without A Workout

How I Got Back On A Fitness Regimen After 10 Years Without A Workout

By Alina Gonzalez, Byrdie (TNS)

Perhaps my story is not all that uncommon, but it still feels pretty unbelievable (or terrifyingly unhealthy) to admit that I didn’t exercise for ten straight years. I lived my life, woke up, ate food, went to work, and carried on without so much as breaking a sweat. No cardio, no conditioning, no heart-pumping movement or muscle-toning repetitions. Nada. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

While others around me went to the gym post-work, and walked around on weekends in their envy-inducing active wear, I existed as though exercise was not a thing. Not for lack of wanting it to be, and not for lack of trying, at least at first. It just never stuck (more on that later). I had other things to do with my time. I wasn’t “bout that life,” I told myself. I guess you could say I was in denial.

This extended lack of exercises was all the more surprising since I had been a very regular exerciser in high school. I went to the gym for at least an hour, five days a week, and I was in a dance ensemble, which meant ballet and tap classes in addition to regular practice. Exercise was a consistent part of my life. And then I went to college.

The decline began with the complete free-for-all that is college: being without any adult supervision for the first time and without the same daily schedule. I proceeded to make it through all four years of school — plus an additional post-graduation six — without ever exercising regularly.

Which brings us to present day. Just over ten years after I stopped exercising, I got myself back on a regular workout regimen — something I thought might evade me forever, or until I had a kid one day and was forced to get into post-baby shape, or something like that.

Here’s how I did it, and how you can too.

The thing with exercise is that it’s fraught with a whole lot of expectations and desires — and self-pressure (let alone the societal pressure). Here’s how literally every single previous attempt at working out over the last ten years went: I’d get motivated and excited, and start a new class, or go for a run. I’d make it through three, maybe four workout sessions feeling pretty good, mentally planning how much butt I was going to kick as an exerciser, imagining all the benefits I was going to reap. I’d get grand ambitions about what I would accomplish and how committed I’d be, like waking up at 6 a.m. and trail-running was happening in my future.

And then life would get in the way: a trip, unexpectedly getting sick, a busy week at work. And when the dust settled, I already felt like I’d failed. It was discouraging, and the idea of starting back up all over again seemed overwhelming and pointless. As soon as I had a small setback, it was as though any effort I had made didn’t matter.

The biggest thing that helped me get back into working out consistently — and not giving up after a month — was letting go. If you are doing great at exercising for three weeks, and then go to Vegas, and somehow find that seven days have passed since your last workout, don’t stress over it, or let it demotivate you, or discourage you — don’t even think about it. Just look forward. I was only able to get into a routine again when I stopped letting setbacks depress and derail me.

Don’t think about what you haven’t done, or how much work it’s going to take to get you to where you want to be. Don’t think about how out of shape you are, or how terrible it is that it’s been so long since you last exercised. Overthinking is momentum’s enemy. Let the past stay in the past, and just do something.

In addition to overthinking things, the other mistake I would make is trying too hard when first starting out. It was as though as soon as I started exercising, I was trying to atone for the last decade of inactivity. So I’d do a super-intense spinning class, be sore for 12 days, and then give up. It’s no use to be fast and furious if it stops you from being consistent.

The other thing I realized is that I was fooling myself. I didn’t work out for ten years — anything I do is better than nothing. Who cares if it’s ten minutes — it used to be zero minutes! The pressure was coming from myself, to start back up with intensity, even though it sabotaged the long-term regularity.

Letting go of that pressure freed me up to be consistent without the negative, discouraging thoughts. I stopped feeling like I should be doing things I knew my body wasn’t ready for yet. So what if you’re only capable of a leisurely walk? It will keep you active and in a better headspace than losing momentum because you did Barry’s Boot Camp and were so sore you couldn’t work out for the next two weeks. Don’t try too hard, only to overdo it.

I started to vaguely focus on working out three times per week. Like the saying about finding true love when you stop looking, I found true regularity when I stopped trying so hard to hit goals or numbers, and just kept on keeping on.

I had an absolute turning point when it came to exercising after I made a 7 a.m. Hot Pilates date with a girl I barely knew who works in my industry, after we struck up a conversation about a mutual love of Pilates. The morning of the class, at 6:40 a.m. when my alarm went off, I thought to myself that if I had made this date with literally anyone else (including my own self), I would have cancelled. A hundred times over. There is not one thing that could have gotten me out of bed that morning, except being locked into a workout date with someone I couldn’t cancel on.

The beauty of semi-strangers is that, like when you’re first dating someone new, you’re on your best behavior. I’d feel bad, but wouldn’t hesitate to cancel on a best friend, family member, etc., if I was too tired to work out. They’d understand.

If you’ve locked yourself in with someone you don’t know that well — a new coworker, a friend of your boyfriend’s friend — it’s too awkward to bail. You can’t.

I jokingly regretted having arranged the workout date I couldn’t escape, but as the saying goes, you never regret working out. That morning at 8 a.m., when the class was over and I got fresh juice before heading to work, I felt like a million bucks. I knew I had accidentally discovered a way of forcing myself to exercise at times I never otherwise would have.

Relatedly, sign up for classes that require you to reserve a space in order to attend. Most places have a cut-off window to cancel and you’ll get charged regardless. Unless you’re fine with wasting money, you’ll feel obligated to plan your day around making the class — i.e. getting your work done, or taking a break to attend the class and finishing up afterwards.

From my own experience, working out consistently is easier to do when you’re in it with other people, especially if they share a similar passion. It’s the very nature of team sports: a shared, communal experience that’s empowering and motivating. Personally, I think “showing up” is easier when you have people to workout with, to sweat and suffer with, all while music plays overhead. Compare that to “showing up” when you alone are holding yourself accountable to go for that run. It’s a bit more difficult, isolating and, I think, less fun.

When I discovered boxing, I was genuinely more excited to work out than I had been the last ten years, mostly because of the social aspect. And for those times when I don’t feel like working out, I think about the people in my boxing classes, about doing jumping jack and drills with them, and I suddenly look forward to attending — that’s an experience I never had when the only thing waiting for me to “show up” at the gym was an elliptical machine.

And you know what? It’s the most consistent, regular exercise I’ve done since I was 18 years old.

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Photo: via Flickr