Life can be tough. Life can be busy. Between juggling work life, family life (fur babies are included), personal care, medical visits and the daily adventures of wheeling or power chair use. Then to top this off, try adding on a new exercise routine or some better lifestyle habits. Feel like you are in Cirque de Soleil yet?
You are not alone.
So why do we make things more difficult for ourselves? Trying to achieve or add things into our routine that aren’t realistic for us, but we do it anyways because it worked for (*fill in name here*). The thing with fitness is, there is no cookie cutter way to achieve success; this goes for both adaptive fitness and able-bodied fitness. Everyone is different, and everyone will require a different approach.
Below I am going to share with you some different tips and tools to help make your work outs easier and more efficient. Some of these tips are ones that I have borrowed from successful gym goers. Others are ones that are practiced by my own clients. If you ask them, they would tell you that they have learned them from weeks and weeks of hearing me blab on and on like a broken record! (If this sounds fun to you, click here).
It is important to know that some of the tips will work for you and some won’t. Like I said before, everyone is different and requires a different approach to success. If one resonates with you, try it out. If it doesn’t then move on. I do suggest considering each point and picturing how they would fit into your fitness regimen or planning. There may be some change required, but sometimes change can be a great thing- especially if it makes your life a little easier. So here they are, in no particular order:
1. Write your workout down ahead of time
There is no more of a time waster as showing up to the gym and not having a plan of action. Plan your workout before you come to the gym so that you don’t waste time wandering and thinking about what you should be doing. Print it off, write it out, or have it on your phone. If you know that your gym will be busy and the equipment you want may not be free, then have an alternative exercise already planned. You can always come back to that equipment afterwards. (If you are an Insider, you can print your workout off right from the workouts page, just log in here.)
2. Carry snacks
Food is fuel, and we need fuel for our workouts. If we are only relying on local coffee shops and fast food options before our workouts, we are limiting ourselves and our performance. Try packing a small Tupperware of some easy grab and go raw nuts or veggies. Easily portable fruit like bananas or apples are also great and can be thrown in your bag mess free. This will save you time and money and your waistline!
It is always good to record how your body responds to your workouts. For example, if you are doing resistance training you can record the weight amounts, the sets and repetitions you did that day. See if you can progress the next time you try that exact same exercise.
Let’s say you go for a wheel outside. Record that distance and how your body feels after wheeling it. Note: If you are living with MS, you have probably found that there is a window or a sweet spot you need to find; It is smack dab in the middle of not doing enough and over doing it. If you found that your last workout program was just way too taxing, then you know next time to scale it back a bit. It is these little adaptations and adjustments that make your workouts scale-able for long term and progressions.
4. Grab a Superfriend
A Superfriend can be anyone; someone you meet at your community center, a caretaker, or maybe a family member. Having someone to help encourage you or be able to work hard alongside you creates connection and opportunities for laughing and socializing. I will never forget when one of my clients brought his 10-year-old to his training session. I let his son hold the boxing pads while my client boxed. We also threw his son in a spare manual chair and they did some racing up the 600m ramp. The healthy competition they had with each other was amazing to watch. There was all laughing and smiles in that session!
5. Do what you love
If you don’t like the exercise, you won’t do it on your own. Period. Find something that you like or love to do. Make the commitment easier for yourself. Some great places to start are community centers or sporting arenas; depending on where you live, there are a lot of different adaptive sports available now that you can be a part of. This is a fun and exploratory way to incorporate exercise into your life. Who knows, you may find a sport you really love and are great at!
6. Hire a professional
The discipline of showing up isn’t for everyone. The discipline of working hard isn’t for everyone on every single day. I know for me, if I don’t preschedule a workout with my partner on the weekends, It won’t happen. Having that accountability keeps me honest. So if you know that you are someone that needs accountability, that’s OK! If you know that you need an extra push to work just a little bit harder, that’s OK too! Just make sure to seek it out. Sign up for a class and commit to it. Higher a Trainer, Kinesiologist or call a Superfriend; you will be held accountable knowing that you booked the appointment.
7. Incorporate Supersets
I know what you are thinking. What the heck is a superset?
A superset is a phrase used in the gym for two exercises that you perform back to back without any rest in between. The exercises can be anything you want; they don’t necessarily have to be targeting the same body part. Supersets allow for more work in less time, thus creating a more challenging circuit and possibly more taxing on the muscle group (depending on the exercises you picked). I use supersets with almost all of my adaptive workout programs simply because the ‘rests’ between sets are typically longer anyways due to mobility and wheelchair use. Try adding some supersets into your next gym routine. If you need ideas, you can check out some on the Ocean Insider Club page under Workouts.
I hope you can find some resonance in some of these workout tips! Remember everyone’s approach will look different. What matters is that you find yours and you utilize it!