The New Year gives us a reason to make changes and start fresh, and Vanessa notes that while many of us see that as an opportunity to get in gear, it also puts a lot of pressure on us to truly commit. She’d rather see people focus more on getting into a routine and less on the calendar.
For Vanessa, 4-5 solid workouts per week is ideal, but it depends on your goals and the time you have available.
“People are still stuck in the mindset that you have to spend at least an hour or two at the gym which actually works out to taking 3-4 hours out of your day,” she explains. “Often it’s not the amount of time you workout, but how efficiently you use that time that counts the most.”
Her advice to the time-starved is squeezing in 30 minutes of high intensity training right in your living room or even breaking your workout into two 15 minutes sessions at the beginning and end of your day.
To help you on your way, Vanessa put together a few guidelines on getting started, staying motivated and achieving a healthier lifestyle this year.
1. Be consistent with your fitness routine
“Of course we all have those days when we don’t feel like working out. I’m a trainer and I definitely have them,” Vanessa notes. “The hardest part is actually getting out the door.”
Choosing an activity or class that you enjoy will increase your chances of success because it will keep you coming back. Vanessa credits the variety of classes available at Tantra for keeping members engaged. The studio features pole fitness, bootcamps, dance classes, yoga and TRX for those looking to mix things up on a weekly and monthly basis. It’s about building a routine that has flexibility and staying power to take you from January through to June without any hiccups.
“It’s about a lifestyle, not a ‘mad-dash’ to bikini season once the New Year rolls around, so pick something that will keep you coming back and keep you motivated.”
2. Find motivation in the knowledge that you’re investing in your own quality of life
There’s no downside to working out and making better nutritional choices, we just need to find the time.
“Working out and eating right are the most ‘selfish’ things you can do and I mean that in a good way. We all have obligations, work, family, volunteering, etc., but rarely take time to make our own health a priority.”
For Vanessa, the physical and psychological benefits that we get from working out and eating better give us the stamina and energy to get everything else done. A little ‘me’ time goes a long way.
3. Pick a goal, like training for a 5k, then a 10k and maybe even a marathon
When it comes to goals, many of us think about that pair of pants we want to fit into again, but that may not be the best way to measure our progress. For Vanessa, it’s about setting a goal post and then moving it.
“At Tantra, our pole students achieve a new goal every 4-6 weeks when they complete a level and move on to the next. It keeps them interested and motivated.”
That’s the key. Motivation. If the end goal is too far away you might give up before you really get started. Shorter, achievable goals could keep you reaching – all the way to the finish line.
4. Consider whether you’re happiest to go solo or be part of a community
If you need someone to keep you on task, then consider an activity that is more social. You’ll have that friendly push when you need and someone to celebrate with when the workout is done. If you like to go it alone, then pick a routine that you can do solo, either at the gym or at home.
5. Set realistic expectations & allow time for your effort to pay off
“Don’t expect to look like a fitness model or be able to run a half-marathon after a couple months of moderate activity – getting in shape takes time and isn’t a product of exercise alone. A regular fitness routine is only part of the equation. Making healthy choices as far as one’s nutrition is equally important, if not more.”
Vanessa notes that you don’t need to do anything drastic, like eliminating entire food groups or committing to a rigid cleanse. Start by planning, preparing and packing your meals to avoid high calorie binges when you’re at work or on the road, and make vegetables the star of every meal. Salads, vegetarian chili and stews are great lunch options and perfect this time of year.
Vanessa Parent is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer and Specialist in Performance Nutrition. She teaches a variety of classes at Tantra Fitness in Gastown & Richmond. Learn more about the studio and view their schedule here.