When meeting new clients for the first time, they often tell me that they have tried working out on their own in the past, but find it very difficult to adhere to a regular program. Although I have always been an advocate of scheduled workouts until you are at least past the initial dropout phase (the first 6 months), I am going to change my philosophy. I am recommending that you incorporate some flexibility into your training regime by going beyond your current perspective of what you think a workout should be. While a framework should be adhered to, which should incorporate continuity, you can allow some flexibility as far as the times you train, the type of training you do, as well as the location of the training. More than anything else you need to keep in mind that a fitness program only works if you actually do it! One of the reasons many people find it difficult to develop any consistency is because they don’t enjoy the program in the first place. Remember, fitness can and should be enjoyable, you just have to determine what enjoyable is to you.

When I first began exercising regularly I can’t say that I so much enjoyed it, as I was just driven. I was fortunate that that was enough to keep me going, because for many people it wouldn’t have been. They would have lost interest and stopped working out. Since then, however, my workouts along with my outlook has changed and evolved in the process.

Nine years ago I was so rigid that I probably missed out on some great opportunities to explore other avenues of fitness. I was also so rigid that I would workout at midnight even if that meant getting up at five in the morning the next day for college. The workouts themselves were positive in the sense that they filled the need that I had then, it’s just that nowadays I have moved beyond my original ideas of what a workout is.

For example, I used to practice kickboxing and lift weights four days out of the week. I would also do some type of cardio like running, jumping rope, or bicycling following lifting. This was all done in the morning in my apartment before I left for school. The workouts definitely accomplished what they were meant to do, but they weren’t as fun and enjoyable as they are now. These days my workouts consist of a number of different activities. One week may be very different from the next. Currently, I practice Brazilian Jiu-jitsu two days a week and continue to lift weights four days per week, but I also get outdoors quite a lot and spend a lot more time exercising with friends and family. I find exercise to be a great way to spend quality time with my loved ones. I also feel I am much more balanced in the way that I look at exercise. I still do cardio about four days out of the week in addition to Jiu-jitsu, but nowadays that cardio may consist of a local hiking jaunt, in-line skating at the beach or Lake Murray, or surfing. I am able to spend more time outdoors doing the things I love, and still seem to have more time to spend with my husband and my friends. It sure beats the heck out of catching up with friends over the phone!

On weekends, when we have more time, the three of us (my husband, dog, and I) often go hiking and follow it with breakfast or brunch at a local eatery. And we also just started surfing a couple weeks ago! My good friend and drummer, Steve, has been taking us surfing along with his kids (he is teaching them how). He is pretty much the one responsible for getting us into the sport—and I’m really loving it!

The point I am trying to make is for you to introduce some flexible into your workouts. No one ever said they shouldn’t be fun! Try incorporating new things so that your workouts don’t get stagnant. For example, just two weeks ago my best friend, Cindy, and I tried out a yoga class based on one of her client’s recommendations. We have been going ever since. I think it will be really good for increasing ligament and tendon strength, not to mention increasing flexibility. I’m not locked into any schedule, but I attend as often as I can. So far that has been about two to three times a week. I will update you in a future column with my yoga progress.

So allow yourself some freedom and breathe some life into your workouts. Seasons offer a great way to introduce new activities into your life. While most sports can be done all year long, for many people it gets too hot or too cold for it to be comfortable. I plan to surf as much as I can this summer, but once the weather starts to change I will probably start mountain biking a lot more while continuing to surf, just less frequently. When winter comes I will be hitting the slopes for snowboard season! There’s a lot to do out there, so just don’t let life pass you by, get out and try new things!

Author's Bio: 

Melissa Allen, CPT, BS, CES is a certified personal trainer & corrective exercise specialist, as well as the owner of Optimum Condition—Mobile Personal Training & Exercise Therapy. Melissa offers customized online fitness plans for people all over the U.S., so please contact her with any questions or comments by visiting her website at www.optimumcondition.com/packages.html