As I mentioned in my last column, one of the greatest challenges I have faced as a postgrad (my Everest, if you will) is finding the motivation to go to the gym early in the morning. Normally, before I go to bed, I set an alarm for 6:00 am in the hopes that I will hop out of bed, throw on a cutoff T-shirt, and walk down the block to my gym. Despite my best (read: average) efforts, what usually happens is that I wake up to my alarm and set a timer for 90 minutes and fall back asleep. 90 percent of the time I end up going to the gym in the evenings. The lesson to be learned here? I’ll get back to you on that.
But despite the fact that I am entirely lacking in the willpower to go to the gym in the morning, I have developed a totally scientific list of workouts optimized for their effect on the body and ease of performance. The following exercises are rigorous enough to provide the necessary physical benefits to maintain a relatively healthy dad body but won’t have you looking for excuses right and left to avoid doing them. I’m not saying that you won’t ever have to motivate yourself to head to the gym to do these workouts – after all, any endeavor that has a satisfying end result, in this case a better body, requires a significant amount of effort. However, the motivation threshold of these workouts is low enough that even those of you that work 80 hours a week will find performing these exercises several times a week well within the realm of possibility.
One of my biggest issues with going to the gym has to deal with sharing equipment with others. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite a good sharer – my preschool teachers can definitely attest to that fact. I just hate the constant awkward shuffles for floor space or trying to time the end of your set to coincide with the clearing up of the squat rack. Enter the kettle bell. Grab one of these bad boys off the rack, head over to the nearest empty ten feet of floor, then baby, you got a stew going! Once you start with your kettle bell, you will have no reason to relinquish your workout space and can continue to your heart’s (or muscles’) content. The key here is the fact that you can grab the weight and get to work with next to zero interpersonal interaction. A word of caution: if you’ve never used kettle bells before, do some research and maybe have a friend teach you proper technique.
Bike + Netflix/Audiobook/Podcast
Like Pam from The Office, I had been looking for love (cardio) in all the wrong places. I tried running (Roy), circuit workouts (that lame cartoonist), and the erg (Roy again), but little did I know the stationary bike (Jim) was what I had been looking for but had been under my nose the whole time. One of my buddies suggested watching Netflix on my phone while I ride the bike. I gave it a shot and it turned my whole world upside down (right side up?). Now I actively look forward to hitting the cardio room because I can get in a solid cardio workout with minimal interpersonal interaction AND I get to watch my favorite shows while I do it. My go-to show is The Office, duh, but every now and then I like to switch it up with a little Always Sunny or 30 Rock. Two episodes of any of these shows will usually run you about 45 minutes, which, depending on the amount of effort you’re putting in on the bike, can be a very good workout. Just be careful not to laugh yourself off the bike if the episode you are watching happens to exceptionally funny. If you’re the type who prefers audiobooks or podcasts, those will work just as well.
The last workout I discovered that is easy to force myself to do is playing squash, or racquetball for those who are so inclined. I first played it during undergrad to lose my freshman fifteen, and it absolutely kicked my ass. As long as you have a friend who is at a similar level of physical fitness and can meet you to play regularly (definitely not a given since graduating), this one is easy enough to do. Just buy a racket and a couple balls, make a court reservation, and you’re good to go. The fact that you are in the court means you and your buddy are isolated from others at the gym and the fact that you have someone else depending on you to show up is extra motivation not blow it off every morning.
If you couldn’t already tell, one of the factors that really allows me to motivate myself to head to work out is a lack of having to deal with people at the gym. If you are like me and prefer not to be bothered by others while improving your physical appearance, give these workouts a shot..
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