In the last two articles, we covered the biggest mistake in setting a New Years Resolution, not having any plan, and then how to set a SMART goal in order to know exactly what you are trying to do. In our third installment, we'll be discussing how to take your goal and make sure you achieve it. There are two different ways to do this. On one hand, you can try to go it alone. The other option is to seek out professionals who know how to help you achieve your goal quickly and efficiently.
GQ Magazine recently released an article about how to skip the gym this entire year, and get still get fit in the process. Now, that's not to say that it is free - even their route with the gadgets recommended (nice pair of Nike Metcons, speakers, jump rope, etc.) will cost about $1,000 in total. Obviously, you don't have to follow their recommendation and can completely get in shape without the fancy gizmos. Here is my recommendation for things you actually need to achieve a good mix of strength, cardio, and overall fitness.
1. Good Pair of workout shoes: I cannot overstate how important it is to have a pair of shoes that are comfortable and YOU LIKE. While it may be tempting to get a specialized pair of workout shoes such as fancy, running specific kicks or weightlifting shoes (such as these from Reebok) you're much better off with a solid pair of all around training shoes. I am a big fan of the Nike Metcon, but also have my eyes on a pair of NoBull Trainers, because I like the brand story and the reviews are extremely positive. Pick a pair that look cool to you, fit your feet well, and allow you to be comfortable running and lifting.
2. A Nice Jump Rope: jumping rope is a great way to save about, I don't know, $500 dollars or so, on a machine such as a bike. Plus it travels anywhere, can be used for skill work such as double unders, and jacks your heart rate up while improving coordination and grip. This is one spot where I recommend not going the cheap option. Get either a Rouge Speed Rope or a Rx Jump Rope. The Rx Rope will run you double of the Rogue rope I've linked, but in my opinion it's a significantly better rope, teaches technique more efficiently, and is more challenging which you'll need when going barebones like this.
3. One pair of Olympic rings: this probably sounds a little intense, but let me explain. Olympic rings are basically a more versatile TRX Suspension system, for about 1/3 of the price. Generally speaking, rings are more difficult than a pull up bar to master, but they also can be suspended from anything like a tree branch, porch top, or any other solid, horizontal area. You can pull them up high and do pull ups and muscle ups, or leave them low and do ring rows, dips, and pushups. I like these wooden ones from Rogue but you can save about $20 and get the plastic ones. The wood is much more comfortable, for the record.
4. One or Two kettlebells: this is the final piece of equipment I feel like you absolutely MUST HAVE to have a decently well-rounded workout plan. Kettlebells can be used for almost any sort of exercise. Use swings in place of deadlifts to develop hip and booty strength. Do goblet squats to improve your quads. String exercises together and crush your lungs while frying fat. Do single arm presses to improve your core and shoulder strength. There are basically infinite numbers of exercises you can do to use these. Start out with a lighter weight and then work to the heavier ones as you improve. The standard for guys is 53 pounds, and for girls it is 35 pounds. I highly, HIGHLY recommend the powder coated style kettlebell. I'll recommend Rogue, again, because they make the best stuff.
Ok, so you've made the decision that you'd rather go to a professional gym and get involved with the community there. Great! Obviously since I have a CrossFit box, I'm a big supporter of this route. It gives you accountability because you have a group and coach which will ask you what's up when they haven't seen you in awhile. Plus, a monetary investment in your health certainly lets you quantify the importance of showing up, which is 90% of the game. Basically, when your motivation goes away on that cold, dark morning in February, your community gives you that boost you need to keep going. There are a few things you should look for when picking a gym, however.
1. Do you like the environment: to me, this is the single most important factor. Do you actually see yourself enjoying the time you spend in that facility? I know at our box, we truly want people to love being there. As I mentioned above, going to the gym consistently is 90% of the battle. If you like the facility, you'll go more often. It's that simple. So, how do you know? I'll admit it's somewhat difficult, so it's important that you pay attention to people who are already members there. Is it a competitive, highly skilled CrossFit box in which you feel intimidated because you're just starting out? Maybe not the best. Is it a new gym without athletes who can challenge you, and you're a seasoned vet wanting to take your game to the next level? Same outcome. Try to find a space which will help you with YOUR goal.
2. Do the coaches and owner speak your language: this is similar to the end of the last paragraph. You need to feel a connection with the coaches and owner of the facility, because they shape what class is like, and what the environment in the box is like. I'm willing to bet you can tell when someone is just not on the same page as you, and you feel that disconnect. If that happens when you are visiting a facility, don't be afraid to not go back! I always tell people, "you can find a good gym with XYZ equipment anywhere. What matters is that you connect with myself and the other coaches. If you like what we offer, great. If not, no hard feelings! We want you to succeed." I like to think that is a good mentality to have.
3. Does the schedule work for you: every gym is going to have the same equipment, by in large. They will have more stuff than you would theoretically buy on your own. But none of that matters if you can't ever come in and use it! If you look at the schedule and know that you can't ever come to class, that is significantly reducing the value of a CrossFit box or other gym. The coaching is the value, so be sure that you can utilize it.
No matter which route you choose to go, I hope you achieve your goal this year! The New Year period is always an exciting time and the perfect time to start a new plan and become a better version of yourself. Motivation won't ever be higher than now, so take advantage of that and get on your fitness game. If you feel that you'd like to join an awesome community with great coaches and programming, follow this link to set up your FREE intro session at CrossFit SSP: http://summitfitness.io/try-crossfit-session/