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Dear Betty:I know that working out in a group is really where I get the hardest work done (will NOT push myself if left to my own devices), but I’m clenched money-wise and am not sure it makes sense to pay to exercise when I’ve been an athlete and could certainly work myself out… if I were another person. Help!– Restless in California
First of all, does it help to know that you’re not alone? I struggle with the same issues. I’ll head out for a run, go for about 10 minutes and then think, “eh, that’s far enough,” turn around and head home. When I go to the gym, I seem to develop a wicked case of amnesia when I walk in the door. What am I supposed to do with a kettlebell? How many reps have I done? Do I know any ab exercises? How does this big ball thing work?
I’ve managed to come up with a few tricks that give me the external motivation to get me out the door and actually doing something without paying a small fortune to a gym or trainer.
- Your running buddy doesn’t have to be someone you know. Instead of running the local trail or some other route that’s off the beaten path, I stick to crowded spots like the local park. Even though I’m not technically running with anyone, it’s a big psychological boost for me to have someone else to pace myself against, work hard to pass or struggle to avoid being passed by.
- Set a goal. On weekends, I run to a destination (usually a coffee shop, because I’m starving) and tell the family to meet me there at a set time. Not only can’t I turn back once I get started, but I have to maintain a goal pace to avoid losing the race. Believe me when I tell you that a 4-year-old will not let you forget that he beat you to the finish.
- I found a friend to work out with. Sometimes we go on brutal hikes, the kind where normal people would turn around and retreat when faced with vertical hills. We also meet at the park and use either a TRX with booklet, or FitDeck cards to guide us through that deer-in-the-headlights, what-do-we-do-now fitness amnesia. You can even use the monthly fitness plans in magazines like Self and Shape to push you to try things that might not otherwise be part of your repertoire.
- Sneak in exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise. Ride your bike. I’m not necessarily talking about going for 100-mile bike rides dressed like a Tour de France competitor, although that would certainly kick your butt. This past year I invested in my 13-year-old bike, setting it up with a rack and trunk bag so I could use it to run errands around town. I’ll ride to the coffee shop or do some light supermarket shopping, trading in my car time for a little bit of extra activity.
But having said all of that, sometimes you just need to shake things up a bit and take a class to bust you out of your rut and work you to the bone. That’s ok, too. After all, what are you spending your money on that’s more important than keeping yourself fit, healthy and sane?
How about you, readers? Do you have any other ideas that I haven’t covered here?