For most people, sticking to an exercise routine long term means making sure it has plenty of variety. And of course it means you’ll find the exercise modalities that resonate with you.
Changing routines doesn’t have to mean trying something entirely new. It could just be a change of scenery. Instead of running on a treadmill, go outside or try a yoga class at a different yoga studio.
Doing the same thing at the same place can get monotonous. It can also become ineffective for your body. Our bodies respond well to new workouts, new movements, new environments, and new teachers.
My two favorite ways to exercise are walking and Pilates. When I go for a walk, I always add some squats, crunches, dips, or pullups on the way. This keeps my body guessing what is next instead of becoming all too familiar with the same old workout.
To vary the walk, you can also add different lengths and speeds of running and jogging. This way your body has to continually adapt to the changes, and your results won’t stagnate from the lack of new challenges.
With a Pilates workout, if you do the same movements every time, you’d become very good at those movements, but you’d be missing the wonderful benefits from all the other great Pilates movements.
It is tempting to keep doing the same thing because we get so capable at it that we feel like we’re winning. But remember the saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?” I try to remember that when I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere with my fitness regimen, or any element of my life, for that matter.
Try this variation of the humble squat to activate different parts of your lower body. It will also challenge your balance and add that variation you may need right now to keep seeing great results.
1. Start with your right foot in front of your left foot. Have the ball of your right foot lined up with your left heel. There will be about 15 inches between your two feet.
2. Turn your knees out away from your body so they align with your big and second toe.
3. Inhale as you bend your knees and lower your body toward the floor. Your heels will lift off the floor. Lower as deeply as you can.
4. Exhale as you press back to the starting position.
Repeat this 10 times.
1. Now extend your left leg (the one at the rear) out to the side into a side-kick.
2. Keep your hips facing forward.
3. Repeat the curtsy 10 times with the side-leg kick.
4. Change your feet so left is in front and right is behind, and repeat the whole set again.
Do two sets on each side—10 curtsys and 10 curtsys with side kicks.
Move slowly, especially at the start. Getting the technique right is the most important thing. You can increase the repetitions when your form is correct.
As you kick your leg out to the side, concentrate on squeezing the muscles in the side of the glute.
You can add on some small pulses when you are in the curtsy squat position. This will make the overall exercise more intense.
If you feel pressure on your knees, leave the pulses out and check the alignment of your knees over your toes. Also, focus on engaging the muscles of the legs tightly so you don’t leave the joints to do all the work.
Emma-Kate Stampton certifies Pilates instructors and is a certified personal trainer. With 10 years of industry experience, she is passionate about sharing the gift of health and well-being. She is based in Brisbane, Australia.