When the New Year rolled around and I chose the word WELLNESS as my #onelittleword for 2018, I had to decide how I was going to get back to exercising for my physical wellness. I had been limited to exercise in the previous six months due to an injury and surgery. But let’s be honest—I had fallen off the exercise track before my injury.
Over the years I have tried lots of options. I have a treadmill, stationary bike, an exercise ball, and free weights in my home. I have had gym memberships and a personal trainer. I have joined Jazzercise and gone to yoga classes. I have tried videos in my living room and walking outside. All of it. But consistency is hard. We go through seasons in life when one method works better than another; however, physical fitness is important, especially as one gets older. There is no more time to procrastinate. It’s use it or lose it! Even my mother-in-law, who is well into her 89th year, attends classes at her independent living facility. These classes do not have the same intensity as a young person’s workout. The goal is motion. They say, “Motion is lotion.”
The thing I have learned is that all of these exercise methods have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to type of movement, cost, times offered, and social aspects. I believe when it is time to re-evaluate your exercise plan, writing a pros and cons list can help you choose the best option. So, here are some things to consider.
- What amount of money can you afford to spend on a monthly basis? (Now, before you answer, consider that you are investing in your health and are likely saving money you would spend for medical treatment if you are not in good health.)
- How convenient is the location? Is it on your way home from work, close to your home, accessible on weekends?
- How convenient are the times? Are there classes at set times; is it open 24/7? Is it really going to work with your schedule?
- What kind of coaching is available? Are there trainers available, is there an added cost for trainers, or is it teacher-led?
- Are you self-motivated? Do you have knowledge of fitness so you can exercise without injuries, or do you need guidance?
- How important is social interaction? Do you have a friend to go with you; do you prefer to be alone? Do you like classes and large groups? Even if you are working out alone, are you comfortable having other people working out along with you?
- Do you have accountability? A partner? A spouse? Someone?
- Does the workout plan offer all aspects: cardio, strength, flexibility?
- Do you have any physical limitations that eliminate some forms of exercise?
What is the variety of workout options? Here’s a few I’ve tried.
- A gym has many options—lots of equipment choices, on-site staff to assist, availability because they are open frequently. Some centers also offer classes, both exercise and wellness. Some facilities have a pool.
- Jazzercise classes focus on cardio but also offer strength and flexibility as a part of their routines. Zumba offers similar classes, I believe; however, I’ve not tried those.
- Yoga can help with stress, flexibility, core strength, and even cardio.
- A home gym – Will you use it? Can you afford to purchase equipment? Do you have the space? How does the cost compare with memberships over time?
- Video – There are many internet sites offering subscriptions these days—yoga, dancing, and probably others. There are also free videos on YouTube. Are you motivated to workout at home? Do you have space? A designated time?
- I know there are others I haven’t experienced. Swimming, karate, kick-boxing, organized sports. What will work for you?
As I made my own list of pros and cons, it changed my decision about my 2018 choice. For me, in this season of life, the best choice was a membership at a local community fitness center. I did not choose the one closest to my home, which was less expensive, because it did not have extended hours and is closed at my prime work out time. It offers some level of social interaction, even if I attend alone, and I am a social creature. I also have a couple of friends who are already members. It has a gym and organized classes at various times of day. And as the “parent” fitness center, I can still attend the one closer to my home if I find it more convenient at times. The advantages were worth the cost.
Though I have enjoyed both yoga and Jazzercise in the past—and they were the right choices then, the fitness center is right for me now.
I have gotten back on track with physical fitness in 2018, and I am motivated to continue to strengthen my body after recent surgery. By thinking through this decision and weighing my options, I have been more successful than when I just choose something impulsively. And as I have tried various machines and routines at the center, I have been more motivated to complement those with things I do at home on the days I do not travel to the gym. I have also realized my limitations and given myself permission to go slowly. I will not regain all of my strength in a short time. This must be a lifestyle for now and the future.
Though physical fitness is only one aspect of my goals in choosing the word “wellness,” I am happy to have made a strong start to my year. This was the area where I felt weakest, so it feels good to have made this decision and stuck with it.
I hope my journey inspires you to start exercising if you don’t already. Get out a pencil and paper, find out what’s available to you locally, and start making that list of pros and cons. Find something that works for you now, and then stick with. Put it on your schedule as a non-negotiable. And if you can, find an accountability partner. You’re on your way!