Last week I introduced this month’s Small Step: Go Old School. If there’s one month of my Small Steps program that best epitomizes my personal path to fitness, it’s this one. Though I take advantage of tech advances, they’re really only efficiency improvements on fitness accessories popularized in the last two decades of the last century. I’ve traded up from Walk-mans with mixed tapes to iPods with playlists and from VHS workout tapes to digital workout videos. But, at the core, there’s no part of my fitness life today that I couldn’t do if I got into Marty McFly’s borrowed DeLoreon and dialed up 1985.
The following is a breakdown of my weekly exercise routine. Following each workout description is a list of equipment, length of the workout, and total workout time to include set-up, warm-up, cool down and stretch:
Tuesday: Strength & Flexibility Training Combo: Exhale: Core Fusion Yoga Energy Flow video
It’s a 60 minute video, broken down into six ten-minute segments. The first five train strength through vinyasa yoga and quigong movements. The final segment is flexibility training using basic yoga poses. Each segment is a full-body workout with a focus on the core. I do two ten-minute segments each Tuesday so that I cycle through the entire video every three weeks. I play the digital version on my laptop and perform in my house, back patio or anywhere I travel.
Equipment: yoga mat, 2 yoga blocks/stacks of books, belt/towel, wifi & digital video player
Workout Time: 20 minutes; Total Time: 30 minutes
Wednesday: Cardio: Jump Rope HIIT Workout
HIIT (high intensity interval training) is all the rage. But, this is the rare case when the fad is justified. Studies show HIIT workouts – short bouts of all-out high intensity exercise followed by short intervals of recovery or rest – burn more calories during and after workouts compared to steady state, high intensity workouts of the same length. In short, HIIT workouts are metabolic boosters that help participants increase lean mass and decrease fat mass.
Studios and gyms offer HIIT classes that contain a variety of high intensity exercises repeated in circuit format. But, one doesn’t have to program a HIIT workout that way in order to reap the rewards. I simply jump rump at the greatest speed I’m capable of for my work intervals. My Gym Next Flex Timer app allows me to set up any work and rest interval configuration I want and program it to repeat as many times as I need to get in a full HIIT workout. Over time, as my body adapts, I lengthen my work intervals and shorten my rest intervals. Currently, my jumping intervals are 25 seconds followed by 30 seconds of recovery repeated 16 times.
Equipment: high-quality cross-training sneakers, jump rope, Gym Next Flex Timer app (free), music player (optional)
Workout Time: ~20 minutes; Total Time: 35 minutes
Thursday: Recovery Day: I teach a HIIT workout class on Thursday evenings so I need to save some strength and energy for my class.
Friday: Strength & Cardio Combo: Timed Circuit
A timed circuit is a strength training workout I developed for a time-crunched client. It’s intense enough to also qualify as a moderate cardio workout. I perform two ten-minute circuits. I either do a body-weight workout consisting mostly of variations on planks, push ups and crunches or I do traditional strength training exercises like dead lifts, squats and lunges that are each paired with different upper body exercises using five pound free weights.
Equipment: yoga mat, timer app, 1 pair free weights (optional)
Workout Time: 20 minutes; Total Time: 30 minutes
Saturday: Cardio: Walk
My husband and I walk into town to get cups of joe to-go at our favorite coffee shop and walk back home. We take routes with the steepest hills, easy to do in Westchester County, to give our workout a boost. The loop takes about an hour and about one-third of the walking is uphill.
Equipment: walking shoes
Total Workout Time: 60 minutes
Sunday: Strength & Flexibility Combo: Exhale: Core Fusion Body Sculpt video
With more time available on the weekends, my husband and I do this entire 50 minute digital workout video together. The structure is ten-minute segments each of upper body, thigh, glute and core strength and flexibility training followed by one ten minute full-body flexibility segment. The concept is high repetition of a fusion of traditional strength training, yoga, Pilates and Lotte Berk Method exercises to strengthen, lengthen and tone muscles. The only segment that requires special equipment is the upper body piece using one set of free weights.
Equipment: yoga mat, 1 pair of free weights, chair, belt/towel, wifi & digital video player
Workout Time: 50 minutes; Total Time: 60 minutes
Monday: Rest & Recovery
Add to this, I home cook most of our family meals and you can see my fitness plan is pretty gosh-darn old-school.
The point here is to illustrate that getting fit doesn’t require expensive gym memberships or the time wasted getting there and back. Nor do you need an extra room in the house filled with home gym equipment. All that’s needed is a little creativity and a commitment to just try a few accessible, inexpensive options in your home or outdoors and go with what feels good to you. Invest prudently in the minimum of what’s needed to make your workouts safe, effective and enjoyable. In no time at all, you’ll be rocking out your workouts old-school style too.