For newbies, what is the best way to get your body used to working out?
“As far as frequency, I would say three times a week is good to start. A lot of times, people say, 'I’m going to work out' — and they go seven days, and then burn out in three weeks. So, usually what I recommend for people is to do something fun, something they enjoy. It’s usually nice to do it with friends because then you have accountability. I think group fitness is one of the easiest ways to get into working out again, because the group energy allows you to be held accountable for showing up. It gives you something to look forward to. So, my tips for starting to work out: I always say start with group fitness, friends, and then frequency."
Do you recommend a variety of workout types, or, if you find something you like, can you just do that three times a week?
“Over time, if you really want to change your body, you have to shock it. When you are first starting to work out, it’s important to at least maintain the workout in the beginning — depending on what it is, you could do yoga, you could do cycling, you could do boot camps. As long as you’re going consistently over time, it’s good. But, as your body starts to become accustomed to working out and has adjusted to whatever sort of workout you’re doing, then that’s when you want to incorporate variety. So, one day you could do a cycling class, and maybe the next day do yoga. That way, you don’t burn yourself out mentally, but also physically, your body is always going to be challenged because it’s always doing something new.”
How do you know when it’s time to vary your workouts?
“Well, the answer to that is that the workout never gets easier – you just get better. So, basically if you start to become aware of your workout, and your mind and your body— when you are starting to nail the workout — then you feel yourself wanting more. Listen to what’s going on. Over time, shortness of breath will get better, the muscle soreness gets better. It’s just a matter of easing into it and then maintaining it. So, maintenance is the key to eliminating those first parts of working out, which is the soreness and the tiredness."
In terms of wanting to maintain a certain weight versus trying to lose weight, are there different approaches to take?
“It's a really hard question to answer — only because it’s so different for every body — but I feel like once you reach that point in your workout where you want to maintain that physique, it’s a combination of diet, how physical you are, and how hard your workouts are. And, obviously it’s just a matter of energy output and input. So, if you want to maintain this physique, then you want to make sure everything’s balanced — you’re consuming the same amount that you’re burning. Whereas, if you want to lose more, you obviously want to burn more than you’re consuming. So, there are so many factors and variables as far as diet and physical fitness.”
“There is a sense that, yes, you’re being a little more active, but I feel like once you find yourself parking farther away and walking more, you kind of are setting a goal for yourself. So, really it’s mental — it’s in your mind that you want a change, and you find ways to achieve that change. Whether it’s parking farther away, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or deciding to go for a salad instead of a wrap. I think it is all rooted in your approach towards a healthier lifestyle.”
Before or after a workout, is there anything you recommend people eat?
“I’m a morning workout type of person. It’s tough to eat a big breakfast before you work out, so my recommendation for anybody and everybody before they work out is a banana. Nutrition-wise, it has the sugar — it basically has all the energy nutrients that you need to kick-start your day. It’s not heavy, it’s not uber-light, it’s just perfect to start a work out. Hydration is [also] key. Before the workout even starts, you should be drinking water — like two hours before, you should be consuming water.
And, one thing about water that I think often goes overlooked is that people often think that hunger cravings [mean] they’re hungry, but really your body wants water. So, I always tell people to constantly drink water. Always have a water bottle with you, or if there’s a water fountain, take a drink. Opt for water over anything that’s dehydrating (like coffee). So, pre-workout, I would go with a banana or an apple — something simple. Maybe a handful of almonds, yogurt, or granola. Post-workout, it depends — if you’re looking to tone, then you want to go with a lighter meal. So, egg whites, veggies, stuff like that. If you’re wanting to build muscle, you want to go with your higher proteins, [such as] chicken, or whatever you eat.”
Any small things you can do during a workout, to optimize it?
“Say, someone tells you to do ten pushups, why not do 12? Just that little extra step keeps you engaged in a workout. Also, one of the tips that I always like to tell people is that in a group fitness class, 95% of what you tell yourself in the moment is reflected in your workout. So, if you are thinking about what you’re going to eat, thinking about calling, thinking about texting, your workout is just not going to be as beneficial. What you focus on expands. So, if you focus on the workout, I feel like it’s going to be a lot more effective for you overall."
Finally, what are your tips on avoiding holiday weight gain?
“In your seven-day week, have one cheat day, and then the other six days be good. Super simple. There are going to be distractions around you and there are going to be temptations. It’s really just a challenge within yourself to tell yourself 'no' or to tell yourself 'yes'. What you find, like I said, is that it becomes a lifestyle. You look forward to that last day, or you look forward to the six days where you’re eating well. So, that’s my holiday tip.”