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Shock Therapy: How To Wake-up From Your Workout Rut

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How To Tell If You’re In A Workout Rut

  • You’ve got your running gear on and are halfway through your morning jog before you realize you’re awake
  • You know pretty much down to the second how long your weights program will take to complete
  • You’re almost completely in sync with the instructor in your exercise class
  • You have no particular sensation at the end of your workouts – you’re not exhausted, elated, energized, fired up. It’s just another thing ticked off your list
  • When you look back over the past 12 months you really can’t tell for sure if you’ve made any progression

If more than one of these points is all-too-familiar, then you’re in trouble. When it comes to exercise success, of course routine is a good thing, but not if it means you’re in a big ole rut. But how to snap out of it? I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, let me tell you this –

Sometimes it takes a full-blown shock to remind you of just how good you can feel after a workout that is truly challenging both physically and mentally.

Yesterday I had the most horrible, emotional and incredibly difficult workout of my life. It made me sweat, it made me cry, and I nearly ran for home. But it just could be a new-found wake-up call to break me out of the rut of regular workouts.

Let me set the scene –

Bikram Yoga, while being wonderful for energy, weight stabilization, improved sleep and digestion, and even the ability to better handle your day-to-day stresses, is in one way just like any exercise. After you’ve ‘got’ the routine, and regardless of the fact that it’s still a very high-intensity class, it becomes possible to tune out. To occasionally even become a little automated. Let your mind float away as your body goes through the moves you’ve done so many times before.

Despite knowing that in order to truly get the most out of this (and other) form(s) of exercise, it’s necessary to be extremely focussed at all times, I’ve managed to sneak in mental time to revise my to-do list, to plan what I might have for dinner, and even to dream about my goals and visions.

All the while smug in the fact that I was still getting a great workout and taking my mind (at least in part) away from work and writing.

Well yesterday was a rude awakening. I don’t know whether it was the fact that I’d been in the sun before class, the busyness of the evening session, or maybe the room hadn’t been fully aired, but that was by damn the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. EVER. I thought I was going to die. At one point I was crying. Seriously. And I felt even more upset when I managed to glimpse the temperature and humidity guage and realized it was only a little over ‘normal’. I know for a fact that I’ve been in classes hotter than this one.

It wasn’t just me – people were dropping like flies. By halfway through roughly 60% of the room was on it’s collective back. And there they stayed. Unless they were running out of the room. It was like a revolving door. This never happens. Sometimes one person leaves the room, but yesterday I reckon there were at least 30 departures (some people multiple times).

I used a combination of insanity and determination to get me through, telling myself again and again to ‘just do one more posture’. Relying on one of my favorite mantras – ‘this too shall pass’. I cannot even begin to find the words to explain just how intense, how challenging, how horribly nauseating not to mention emotional this was.

And yet – how liberating.

After I managed to drag the puddle that had once been my body out of the room something hit me. I felt awful. I couldn’t even talk. I didn’t even contemplate showering although I was dripping with sweat. I wandered onto the street no doubt looking like I’d emerged from a swamp and accidentally walked the wrong way for about 3 blocks.

But actually – I felt amazing. And proud. I’d beaten a giant I didn’t even know existed. I know I’ll never forget that class, and I sure do dread another one like it, but it really taught me something good about myself, and what I could do if I set my mind to it. And it made me all the more determined to focus for real in class from now on. To stop going through the motions of my workouts in the gym or the yoga room. And maybe even to (voluntarily) step out of my exercise comfort zone from time to time.

(What’s more, I had no hesitation in indulging in an incredibly decadent dinner afterwards!)

Four Easy Ways To Snap Out Of That Workout Rut

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1. Try something new (especially if it scares you a little. If you’re not a group exercise fan but don’t really know why this is, check out a class. Try to choose something at an appropriate level for you. The most demanding classes include Body Attack, Body Pump (if you’re not used to weight training), and Spin, but anything can be hard if it takes you outside your skill-set.

Outdoor exercise is also a great new challenge if you’re not used to it. Always use the treadmill? Map out a run around your home or workplace and hit the streets hard. Or be really adventurous and sign-up for an extreme sport. Always wanted to try white-water rafting but just too wussy about it? Maybe now is the time.

2. Toss the old ‘3 x 10’ weights program you’ve been following and try a functional fitness circuit. This style of training is one of the most intense, fun and varied that I know. If you’re not confident training this way, book a couple of appointments with a good Personal Trainer. How do you know they’re good? Watch them with their clients. They should be focused, and the client should be sweating but smiling (at least a little :-))

3. Join a Boot Camp or small group session. I’ve found that my small group sessions are almost more popular than my one-on-ones. But the funny thing is that many of my clients didn’t like the idea when I first introduced it. After I managed to get them along, for the most part they LOVED it. It’s competitive, you get barely 2 seconds to grab a drink, and most of them end up flat on their backs in the middle of the gym by the end of it. Now that’s a great session. Boot camps are a similar challenge and are run in most cities. Just google it if you’re not sure.

4. Do what you usually do, but do it like you mean it. I didn’t intend to experience my toughest workout ever when I entered that yoga room yesterday, and like I said, I’m not really sure why I did, but man am I happy about it now. Harness the same feeling by going into your next session with true intent – determination to be present throughout the entire workout, to push out the extra reps because you know you’re capable even though you often can’t be bothered, and with a mindset focused on getting to that unbeatable end point of pride and personal power. If you haven’t experienced that sensation for a while, then you’re missing out big time. I know I was.

Life is Now. Press Play.

Kat

What do you do to snap out of a rut with your exercise, eating habits or mindset. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section – if you’re on email or RSS subscription you’ll need to click the title of this piece to enter the blog. The comment section is at the end of the article.

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