By: Jeff Binek, Owner of Friendship Fitness
Taking a hiatus from exercise is extremely common these days as work, sickness, injuries, holidays, and family demands pick up in somewhat random fashion throughout our lives. Each transition point we face, both in and out of a solid exercise or nutrition routine, gives us a new opportunity to try something different that will be more enjoyable and easier to stick with when ‘life’ picks up. I always imagine this situation much like getting back into the dating pool after a divorce – there are probably some new and cool things going on in the world that you might need to know about! So, let’s see what is out there, shall we?
What I do is help people make the right decision for their fitness and nutrition...I am a personal health and wellness consultant you might say. I take a background from the individual, things they’ve liked and disliked in the past, ways they’ve found success, and determine what they need most to find success in the future. I’ll generalize a few different types of people I come across frequently, and introduce some of the popular recommendations I make for those groups:
The New Parents
One of the biggest reasons we see people walk away from health and fitness is the introduction of a new child, or children, into the family structure! This is arguably the MOST influential change in a family’s time-value. There are multiple things to consider here, so first I’ll start with the mother.
Mothers coming back into health and fitness after pregnancy needs a very structured approach to rebuilding good core strength and pelvic floor mechanics. If you do not do this properly there can be major health implications for the rest of your life, including back pain, hip and knee pain, and incontinence. I would recommend finding a local BirthFit program, or a physical therapist/chiropractor/trainer that has done their homework. The first 2-3 months should be monitored and planned very diligently. If done correctly the mother will have established a good foundation and will be set up for future success with their health and fitness.
Finding gyms with good childcare is fantastic, though some parents also see success with the trade-off (one parent works out early AM, the other after work) or the hand-off (One parent does 5:30am-6:30am, then hands off the kids at the gym to the other who does 6:30a-7:30am). You could also check out Street Parking which was created by two badass CrossFit mama’s, and is meant to be done at your home with the little ones looking on (great role model practice). I recommend learning the movements first from a trained professional, or just being smart when starting off.
You also have to focus on your child’s health and well-being. Kid’s today face a major uphill battle and a parent’s decisions on health and wellness have a direct impact on how healthy their kids will be (source). Finding a community of mothers and fathers who have successfully made fitness and health a priority in their families will significantly increase your chance of success within your own family. Local kids’ fitness communities and competitions that see parents and children able to workout and learn about nutrition together are growing in popularity. If your kids are older than 4 years old, try finding a kids program that you could be involved with!
We live in a global economy and while getting on conference calls and virtual meetings has helped minimize having to pop onto a flight each week, that reality still exists for many people. If you travel a lot for work, then establishing some guidelines for nutrition is the most important piece of the puzzle. While we do see exercise fall off when traveling, the eating and drinking does the most damage to your health. I have created a few guides to helping you maintain good eating habits while traveling here.
Once you begin making some better nutritional choices on the road, the next is to establish a good routine for fitness. Popping into a hotel gym to hit the treadmill is better than nothing, but weightlifting will be far better to keep your metabolism high for the long haul and mobility will be a necessity to keep your joints and ligaments healthy after long bouts of sitting. There are a lot of great online options out there these days that provide workouts you can accomplish in most hotel gyms. While these are great go-to options, there is still no accountability plan in place - aka they don’t care if you do the workouts or not.
More and more personal trainers and coaches are looking to establish “remote clients” that meet with them 1-2 times per month while in town, then provide weekly programming options to be done while traveling or at their home gyms. This provides accountability and a coaching relationship. The workouts will be tailored specifically to your goals, and it gives you the option to be coached on faults you may have developed while being off on your own (very common). Good personal training will run you between $70-100/hour, and programming will likely be $85-250 per month depending on how many workouts you want. For some, this might seem expensive, however “The Traveler” is at the highest risk of stress and cardiovascular disease which will cost far more in both real dollars and emotional equity down the road. Repeat after me - “No work is worth an early grave.”
The Just Got A Wake-Up Call
Years fade fast. Every day I sit down with someone and during our consultation session, they discuss their previous workout history and come to realize that it was over 10 years ago. Life gets crazy and maybe you just decided to take a break from the hamster wheel (treadmill) because it just wasn’t fun anymore! Often a loved one will pass too early, or a doctor will let you know that you are pre-diabetic or have other chronic disease symptoms. “I’m too young to be taking cholesterol medication” is a phrase all too common in America today.
Luckily, if it has been 10-20 years, there are so many better options out there now. The days of grabbing workouts from advertisement filled magazines and going to a “globo gym” (big chain commercial gyms) are all but dead. It was boring, and it was a horribly inefficient training module. “Back and bi’s” or “Cardio Bunnies” are now seen as obscene time-wasters.
Group fitness has become the go-to option for many Americans as they flock to locally owned "micro gyms" that give a more personalized experience than your Planet Fitness chain, but are less expensive than 1-on-1 personal training. On top of that, it is an amazing way to grow in a community of like-minded, hardworking and motivated people. Our culture today is struggling to find ways to get to know each other - especially if a Country Club or Church just isn’t your thing.
The best fight against apathy or struggling to “get into” a consistent fitness regimen is for it to be the hour of your day you look forward to the most every day. Because it’s fun, because your friends are there, and because it will be your best defense against giving your loved ones their own wake-up call.
Taking a break or hiatus from exercising is normal. There is even an argument to be made that it can be healthy (when done with a purpose)! However, you need to be very watchful of how much time you let slip away. In 10 years of fitness coaching and consulting I’ve seen many people walk away, only to come back 5 years later in significantly worse shape. We all have crazy times in our lives, but often they don’t last more than a few weeks or a few months. If you’re reading this and it has been longer than that, it might be time to re-evaluate the reasons behind not getting back in an exercise routine sooner.
When you’re in the process of that re-evaluation, find someone who has a long history of helping people in your situation. Someone who will be honest with you from the start about what you need to improve to make your life, your nutrition and your health better. Fitness in America is in a woeful state because the billion-dollar chain gyms and supplement companies are all profit-margin and advertising budgets. Companies like Propello Life and Friendship are going out of their way to create a better product, that will help people lead better and healthier lives. Knowing Duke, I’m confident he would be happy to consult on your supplement questions, he will care about you, take time to listen to you and help you come to the right conclusion. Would MetRx, MusclePharm, Beverly, or Advocare do that?
Maybe the reason you left exercise in the first place is you didn’t have anyone who really cared about whether or not you were successful. It was probably easy to walk away, easy to make an excuse, maybe you never even called to cancel your membership. So, when you come back, try the opposite. Find someone who cares, find a local small business that is run by a family and supports other local small businesses. If you care enough to support them, you will be blown away at the support you get back.
Written by Jeff Binek, Owner of Friendship Fitness & Nutrition in Dublin, Ohio