As a child I was extremely active, engaging in different sports - from martial arts to track and field. As I became more experienced, I decided to take up weight training. I soon realized my passion for working out; it gave me confidence and made my small body feel more complete and energetic. As I began college, my workout ethics changed. I was still trying to figure out what marks I wanted to make on campus, and tried to maintain all factors in my life. I started strong by maintaining the social, physical and mental aspects of my life. Whether I was grabbing coffee with a friend, reading a book or taking yoga classes, I tried to prioritize it all. What I didn’t expect, was how difficult that turned out to be. I was able to maintain the social and mental aspects of my life, but motivating myself to stay active proved to be a struggle for me. I stopped going to my yoga classes due to the intensity of my academics. I began feeling pains in my back, knees, and ankles. That caused me to stray even further away from the gym.
The less I worked out, the more pain I felt, and it seemed as if I’d never go back to the gym. Thinking about this more and more, and seeing how unhappy I was, I wanted a change. I spoke with different people to see what role working out played in their lives. Some found it to be very easy to motivate themselves to work out, while others felt intimated because of their personal insecurities. There were some whose disabilities made it difficult to work out, and others who enjoyed the adrenaline. Everyone is different, and they all have different obstacles to overcome.
The first person I interviewed, Martin, had a physical disability and was constantly focused on his academics. His knees became his biggest obstacle, because they limited the amount of endurance he could put into working out. Also, because his main focus is his academics, he spends about two days a week going to the gym during the school year. During the summer, he doesn’t work out at all. Martin focuses on a low impact and sometimes short intervals and high intensity. The low impact cardio is an important workout for him because it allows him to lose weight, while also considering his knees. “I actually enjoy workouts, but the hard part is actually starting. However, when I start, I usually stay on a roll.” Once he is focused, his motivation builds up and he becomes more physically and mentally fit, for his school work, and wellbeing.
Many people can relate to Martin’s situation because having a physical disability causes people to be more cautious of what they do to their bodies. You don’t want to push yourself too hard, because you could end up damaging your body more than helping it. Learning to prioritize the different aspects of your life can help you stay motivated to work out, even if you are in a similar situation as Martin. By planning out breaks and giving yourself time to focus on yourself, you are maintaining your own wellbeing.
The second person I interviewed, Joey, is extremely active, focused on his academics, while also working to pay for college. He works out seven times a week during the school year, and six times a week during the summer. For the most part, he doesn’t change his schedule for maintaining the physical aspect of his life. By repetition, he is able to prioritize his time, and make sure he gets the most out of each day. He formats his workouts so that he runs, works with weights, and focuses on his cores on a regular basis. Sundays are always cardio day. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, he works on his full body by doing squats, bench press, and pull ups. And on Tuesday and Thursday, he focuses on smaller groups, in example, arms, shoulders, calves, and back. Joey said, “A run really wakes me up and gets me ready for the workout, and core is something easy that I can use to wind down. My motivation comes mostly from my desire to be stronger. You can always be better, and working out is something that’s super tangible that you can improve if you just stay motivated and put in the work.”
People who find a way to structure their workouts to fit themselves can find a lot of success in achieving their goals. Joey has a different way of working out compared to Martin. Someone with a similar situation to Joey, wouldn’t get the most out of a workout that Martin does, and the same can be said vice versa. Someone with a disability cannot be expected to work out the same way an athlete does because the body type is different, and each person has their limits.
The third person I interviewed, Berta, a woman who is overweight, goes to the gym maybe twice a week. She does her workouts at home with the Jillian Michaels DVD’s, or at the gym where she’ll utilize the elliptical for 30-40 minutes and then head to the weight machines. “I like using the DVD’s because they are specifically designed to be a good workout by a fitness expert. I formatted the gym workout myself because I found that I can burn the most calories and focus on targeted muscles on the elliptical and it doesn’t tire me out as much as other machines.” Berta’s goal is to be healthier and lose weight. She said, “Sometimes I feel like what’s the point of working out when I’m still so far away from my goal and nothing will probably change anyway. That is the biggest obstacle I face during workouts.”
Listening to Berta helped me reflect on my own insecurities. I feel uncomfortable when I am working out in front of other people. Whether you fear the judgement of others, or you doubt yourself, finding a way to actively stay fit is important. No matter how unrealistic a goal seems, you should always try your hardest, because what you think of yourself matters more than what others think of you. Berta worries about the way she looks, and struggles with staying motivated because of her weight. If you have felt that way, erase that from your mind. Try her workout, it may not be perfect, but it can ease you into a more repetitive routine.
Seeing how Martin, Joey, and Berta all have different situations and workouts, I hope you were able to relate and reflect on your goals. But I want to share one more thing. I shared with you, the fact that I slowly stopped going to the gym, and my body became weak. A month ago, I found an app called PumpUp, which helps you find workouts that work for you, and you can do it, whether you are traveling, at home, have an hour, or only have 15 minutes. You decide where you work out, what you work out, how long you work out, and the app will show you different options depending on what you want. I found this app to be very motivating because it told me exactly what to do, and kept track of the routines for me. Whether trying to lose weight, gain muscle, or just stay healthy, PumpUp will customize routines to suit your needs. To add, this app also has a feature similar to Instagram. When you are on the app, you can post photos and follow other people who are working out. You can see what workouts they do and together you stay motivated.
Whether you are similar to me, Martin, Joey, or Berta, it is important to workout. It isn’t enough to eat healthy, you need to find a way to motivate yourself because it’s your life, and your choice.