Over the past couple of years, I have had the same question asked to me 20 or more times. "Susan, good for you that you lost the weight and kept it off. I really need to start a program, but I don't have a class that I love. I hate (insert program), and my friend loves (insert different program), and I would do (still another program) but (new hot program) just opened and i heard that one is amazing. What kind of workout do you think is best?"
I remember about a year after I gave birth, I was majorly in need of something to motivate me to get out and do something, anything to lose the extra weight I had. My dear, sweet, caring and fit friends - oh how I feel sorry for them now - at so many points and through so many different creative methods, trying to cajole, coerce, entice, encourage, and lead me to their favorite yoga studio, core fusion, spinning, barre, or pilates class. It was usually on their 3rd or 4th strongly suggestive invitation that I would succumb, usually either out of pity for their efforts, or sheer annoyance at their persistence, and go to the class with them. Once. I tried about a dozen classes with a dozen different friends one time each. And I never went back. I felt like I might never find anything I liked and thought maybe group fitness just wasn't for me. In a particularly low point of desperation while watching an infomercial at about 2am one night out of sympathetic insomnia with my babies, I ordered the Brazilian Butt Lift DVD. I was so excited, I told everyone about it. It came in the mail a week later, and it proceeded to collect dust unopened on my shelf above the television with the rest of our DVDs. In the cold light of day, I was not even motivated enough to open the package.
Fast forward to two years later, and I was really ready. Having lost about 7 lbs over that time, through twice weekly pilates classes and eating slightly better, my favorite teacher moved to Washington DC. It had been 6 months since she left and I couldn’t motivate to go anymore. I gained those 7 lbs back, and then some. So now here I was, buying “really fat clothes” because I had outgrown my “fat clothes” which were still 2-3 sizes away from resembling anything in the realm of what I considered an acceptable size. When the student is ready the master will teach…. I do thoroughly believe that. But the only way the student will be ready when it comes to fitness, is by trying. Sitting on your couch will not get you further to discovering what the best workout for your body is. Armed with this knowledge, and frustrated, I knew I had to make a change and it had to be big. I found my way through word of mouth and a bit of online research into Barry’s Bootcamp, and that was it for me. I had found my something.
Now, my something is not necessarily for everyone. Just as those dozen friends I had, who each were thoroughly convinced that their fitness Messiah would also be mine, it just doesn’t work that way. I am 100% convinced that you need to come to this decision yourself. The only way you’re getting out of bed at 6am on a day thats dark and snowing and taking the subway to exercise is if you believe you need this for you. It has to be a gut feeling that you know when you leave that place, you’re going to definitely come out feeling better than when you went in. Also, something really interesting happens once you do find your groove and start going regularly. As I got more and more into going to Bootcamp, I became more and more “in love” with fitness. In all its forms. So there I was now, going to those friends who years back were trying to help me, (thankfully they still spoke to me), and saying, “Hey! Let’s go to your class next week - I want to try it out.”. Today, I still love Bootcamp, but I also love other classes, studios and programs. The more confident I have become in my body, athleticism, and physical capabilities, the more varied programs I enjoy trying. And with these new programs, I keep learning more and more about what my strengths and weaknesses are, and what I need to focus on or areas of improvement. It truly has opened up a whole new world to me.
One of the secrets I have found during my fitness journey is this: Fitness begets more fitness. Which actually stands to make sense. Once your body gets used to being jolted out of its sedentary state, it goes through a whole series of feelings of its own, and after the "Denial" stage ("Nope, not happening"), the morning after "Anger" stage ("What did you just do to me? I feel like I've been in a car accident!"), the "Acceptance" stage ("I guess this is here to stay every day, then."), comes the actual enjoyment of the benefits you are producing. The endorphins, the sweat, the increased strength and functionality. So that ultimately, you finally arrive at the "Gratitude" stage ("Hey! You made my life easier and better, thanks!"). So much so. that on that day where you don’t make it to your class, or the gym, and also the next day, and the one after that… your body is like "Hey, wait a second. This doesn’t feel good. Something isn’t right, we need to sweat.". Yep. Your body, the one that whined and protested, the one that hated you when you sat on the toilet after leg day — is now basically begging you to get back in it. And guess what? The once rejected fitness class that you used to shy away from for any number of reasons, actually becomes enjoyable now, because at the end of the day it all produces that same necessary element - sweat.
So the answer to the best workout for your body is this: Its the one you love the most. The one you will go back to time and time again. It can be for any reason in the beginning. Maybe its the one closest to work, or the one that has the great smoothie place next door, perhaps it’s the one with the best music, the cleanest studio, the cheapest, the one your best friend goes to. It. Does. Not. Matter. What matters is that you get moving and get moving consistently. Once you start to see results, you will be already in a habit and you will be hooked. I have seen this time and again among my friends. The key is you can’t be afraid or intimidated to try. If it helps, find a friend, or go at an “off” time if you feel self conscious. Just go. Try as many places as you need to until you find the one right for you. But give it a chance, usually after 2 times you will know if you love it. It’s a little like dating. You need to cast a wide net, and you need to be open-minded. And you can’t summarily reject something just because it doesn’t sound right for you. You have to try it. I realize not everyone lives in New York City, where there are some neighborhoods with 20 different fitness studios to choose from. What if your selection isn’t as vast? I recommend trying different teachers, different classes if they offer them within the gym or studio, and if all else fails, DVDs or streaming workouts! Don’t give up on finding “the one”. Trust me, it's out there…waiting for you.