8 Tips for Getting the Most out of Exercise

November 17th, 2014

So, you've tried Pilates or some other exercise and you didn't get what you expected. You're not getting the results you hoped for. What do you do when you feel like you're not reaching your exercise goals? How do you lose weight, get stronger, run faster, or simply feel better? Setting goals and attempting to achieve them can leave many of us feeling disappointed when we realize that all of our hard work didn't give us the results we hoped for.

My wife, Maja, and I know a lot about exercise. I started snowboarding when most people had never even seen a board on the slopes and now I'm passing on what I've learned to my older son. Mountain biking and Pilates are also part of my fitness regimen. My wife was a competitive athlete in martial arts, rowing, and a marathoner before our sons came into the world and now she's running around with them all day (we homeschool our kids, so I really mean all day most days of the week 😉 She too has taught Pilates and worked as a Personal Trainer and knows well the successes and perceived failures of any given sport or exercise plan.

Given our long history and personal experience as athletes and instructors we have discovered ways to improve your athletic performance and meet your exercise and wellness goals.

Here are 8 tips for getting the most out of your workout:

1.  Make you goals attainable and keep in mind that you may have to be flexible with how you define 'attainable.' You can break down your goals into short and long term ( and if you really love making lists and working with deadlines add medium term goals). However you organize your objectives, give yourself permission to change them along the way to suit your current situation. ( For example, if you want to build endurance and decide to achieve it by running and two weeks into it you realize you hate running, change your activity. Try rowing or something else.)

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2.  Share your goals with someone to help you stay accountable. Even better- find a friend with whom you exercise! You may let yourself of the hook easily, but stay committed to an exercise class if you know you're friend is joining you. And, for those of us with a competitive side, beating a friend at a game of golf or crossing the finish line first can feel, well, pretty awesome.

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3.  Stay focused. How many times have you been in the middle of an abdominal exercise, and if you weren't cursing your instructor at the time, allowed your mind to wander to something completely unrelated. If you're working on your abs put your thoughts on that area of your body and feel your core engaging. You'll get better results with staying in the moment and focusing.

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4.  Remind yourself that you are responsible for the results you get- not your coach, friend, or whomever else you may wish to blame for not being where you want to be. You choose how much time you spend on yourself, whether it's a five minute breathing exercise and doing a simple stretch to lengthen your spine while sitting in your chair or a 5K race.

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5.  Take what you learn through exercise and apply it to your everyday life. Take a moment while sitting in traffic to adjust your posture, engage your abs and low back before you lift your baby out of her crib, focus on the task at hand instead of distracting yourself with other thoughts, or lift from your core and use your butt muscles when you're climbing stairs instead of dragging your weight with your legs (unless you just finished a marathon, then went to an after party, and it's now midnight. In this case, you can drag yourself up the stairs and start fresh tomorrow!)

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6.  Get professional help when you need it. Sign up for yoga or Pilates privates with a knowledgeable instructor or get lessons in skiing, rock climbing, biking or whatever your chosen activity is.

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7.  Be consistent. You're more likely to see the changes you're looking for if you commit a few to several hours a week to exercise versus going to class just once a week. Find out how you can manage your time better and make an extra hour for yourself and your fitness goals.

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8.  Have fun! Find something you enjoy about the exercise even if you don't love every part of it. Maybe you feel taller after a Barre class, feel less stressed out than before you showed up for class, or you love the beautiful scenery on whatever trail you're on. Look for those things that feel good-they're there!

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