Here in Portland people talk about summer’s arrival like it’s the second coming of an almighty savior. Around March or April, conversation dwells on the glory of the sun and how the warm rays bring a reprieve from the gray skies – buh-bye clouds, and good riddance. Once summer actually graces this rain-soaked city, however, Portlanders become like the undead, cowering and mewling, disabled by the heat and bright light of an unveiled sky. With the rise in resting body temperature, it is unpleasant to imagine stroking that inner fire any hotter - add the challenge of summer travel schedules and longer daylight hours to mess up circadian rhythm and there goes even the best intentions of staying on some semblance of an exercise track. The good news is that fall is right around the corner - a blissful season when students go back to school, vacations have run their course, and the typical cool, rainy Portland day once again feels like a welcome friend. Fall is the perfect time to reboot a consistent fitness routine, and here are some ideas to help the process along:
Sign up for something: Put down some money and set a goal to run, walk, or crawl through some muck. Try the Back to School Fun Run on September 2nd, an event to benefit the Global Backpack Project, supplying at-risk youth and children with school supplies, or become a Red Strider and walk to help the American Diabetes Association provide community-based education programs and fund essential diabetes research. The Oregon Step Out event is held in Portland on September 22nd and walkers may choose from 1, 3, or 6-mile options along the waterfront. If getting dirty motivates you, the Hell Run in Seattle on September 15th offers 3.15 miles of mud crawling and obstacle challenges. There’s cold beer at the end of this race, which just makes the dirt that much more appealing. Go to active.com and enter your city to find more events happening this fall.
Invest in three sessions with a personal trainer: Hiring a personal trainer means that you are serious about making your health a priority. Consider the money you spend on a trainer to be an investment in preventive medicine – exercise is known to prevent and/or ameliorate health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, so anything or anyone who motivates you to move more may just help you to you live well, longer. A personal trainer presents you with opportunities to challenge yourself both physically and mentally, but he or she also provides information and instruction on correct breathing, posture, and movement patterns that allow you to rise above old plateaus of performance. You may feel that after two or three sessions you are motivated to continue exercising regularly, and once-a-month check-ins with your trainer suffice as a practical and economical means of keeping you on track with your fitness goals.
Try something new at the gym: If you have run yourself into the ground on the treadmill, take a look around the gym and identify a piece of equipment that you’ve never tried before. The rowing machine is often overlooked but provides an excellent full-body workout and will get your heart rate soaring unlike the bike or elliptical. Looking around at your fellow gym patrons, take note of what they are doing and identify something that looks cool and fun to try, but ask a personal trainer or other fitness expert about proper form if you are unsure of how to perform a certain activity. Other possibilities to consider are adding free weights or cables into your strength training routine, mixing high intensity cardio intervals with your moderate cardio workout, and trying out a new group exercise class such as Zumba, cycling, or Bodypump.
Get your boot camp on: A fitness boot camp experience may be just the right stimulus needed to get you back into fighting form. Participating in a boot camp means that your workout intensity will increase several times a week, with the expectation that you will see results faster than you would from a self-motivated session at the gym. While regimented, in-your-face strategies were once the standard, many boot camp programs now emphasize a welcoming, socially pleasing environment, devoid of intimidation and loud-mouth instructors. Try Adventure Boot Camp for Women, Portland Fit Body Boot Camp, or Studio X, X-Press Boot Camp.
Think about the holidays: Only three imperative words are needed here: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Food is a major component of any celebration, and these holidays bring a tide of goodies during an unrelenting three-month period. During this time you may either look forward to overeating and feeling lethargic and unhealthy, or get to work right now establishing or revamping that exercise routine so that it is possible to enjoy those extra calories without an overwhelming sense of guilt. Exercise burns calories, increases circulating ‘good feeling’ hormones, and generally improves your ability to manage both the good and bad stresses of life. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and prepare yourself with an established exercise habit so that you may make good choices as you celebrate.
For those of you who made it through the summer with your fitness routine intact, you are set up to dominate the fall season of activity. Regardless of your sport, working out in cooler temperatures, when compared to bearing the heat of summer-time, may well give you the performance boost needed to rock star your way through your next half-marathon. Last week was brutal with hundred degree-plus heat, but cooler days are ahead, and with only a few months until the holiday season arrives there is no time to waste. Reboot your fall fitness routine now and enjoy eating that Halloween candy or Thanksgiving stuffing as joyfully as you did when you were a kid, trusting that you’ll be moving enough to make it worthwhile.