Fitness Wisdom: Ditching Old School Advice
Workouts aren’t one-size-fits-all. Here are a few tips for building a fitness routine that works for you.
Stories about how to make exercise part of your daily routine are ubiquitous, usually accompanied by photos of a toned, smiling person lacing up a spotless pair of sneakers, or a fitspirational quote along the lines of, “What seems impossible today will be tomorrow’s warm-up.” The advice seems so doable – Leave your workout gear at the foot of your bed so you’re inspired to exercise first thing in the morning! Find a running buddy! – but, unlike sneaker laces themselves, people are not one-size-fits-all. For instance, that simple tip about finding a jogging buddy could prove spot-on for a social butterfly, but might sound like torture to an introvert who craves the solitude of running.
We asked Brian Bradley, Fitness Director for Elev8d, to tackle three frequently cited tips on creating a healthy routine. Below, he debunks them, offering the fresh, Elev8d way of thinking:
Old school rule: Leave your gym clothes out at night so you can exercise first thing in the morning.
New school advice: If you’re an early bird with time to spare first thing, fantastic. But what if you need to be at work at 6 a.m. (or work the night shift?) What if you tend to wake up as Crabby McSloth and don’t feel human until your coffee kicks in? “The advice has to fit your lifestyle and your personality,” explains Bradley, a self-declared Non-Morning Person. He also notes that morning workouts are often endorsed for their ability to jumpstart your metabolism for the day, “but a night workout can increase your metabolic rate in a similar way, keeping it elevated all night long while you sleep.” With the eight-minute Elev8d workout, specifically, “your body will be awake and more functional for the following 23 hours and 52 minutes, no matter what time of day you do it.”
Another point to consider: “Scheduling tough workouts for the morning can be dangerous, because your spine isn’t necessarily ready,” Bradley says. “As you spend all night in a horizontal position, the disks in your back are rehydrating with fluid. When you stand up in the morning, it takes time for those disks to return to a healthy thickness. Before they do, they have less give, leaving you more vulnerable to injury.” (That’s also why bending over first thing in the morning often feels so uncomfortable.)
Old school rule: Set aside 30 minutes to an hour every day for exercise.
New school advice: You are certainly welcome to spend an hour exercising if you like, but you can get the job done in far less time and with much better results, and still have 30 minutes leftover to read a magazine, nap, play with your kids, or just veg out. Elev8d strongly believes that, when it comes to improving your fitness, alignment and health, quality matters far more than quantity. What’s the point of slogging away for 45 minutes on a recumbent bike if your body functions the exact same way afterwards – if your hip flexors are just as tight, if your glutes still aren’t activated, if your upper body hasn’t gotten a lick of action? Bradley likens the phenomenon of whiling away an hour at the gym, mindlessly bouncing from machine to machine, to a family spending staying home to spend “quality time” together…while everyone is glued to their phones.
Elev8d rallies against the “more is better” philosophy. Here, we’re all about sequence and efficiency. Our 8 core moves were chosen with care and deliberation to align the eight load-bearing joints (shoulders, hips, knees and ankles), so that your body can function at maximum capacity. And the exercises are arranged in a specific order, intended to align your skelature, activate deeper muscles, and take your body through a full range of motion in fun routines that take only 8, 16 or 24 minutes. (Try the 8×8 Challenge.)
Old school rule: Schedule your workouts in your calendar.
New school advice: Scheduling your workout in your smartphone calendar or day planner makes it something to get it out of the way. But we want you to enjoy moving, not think of it as a chore that needs to be ticked off your To Do list. Schedule your dentist appointment or work meeting…not your workout.
Instead, find a workout you love, that feels joyful and free and fun, and you won’t feel the need to slot it into the same “must do” category as “Pap smear.”
How do you do that? Bradley wants you to “find your why.”
Your why is your main motivation for exercising. It doesn’t matter what it is – health, appearance, stress relief – so long as it speaks to you and gets you moving. Once you’ve tapped into your inspiration, fuel it with moves that set your inner kid free…jumps, crab walks, bear crawls, backbends. The more you do them, the less they feel like work and the more fun they become. Pretty soon, these eight to 16 minutes will organically weave themselves into your everyday routine…no calendar alarms required.