In the current state of today’s world, it has become imperative that we take care of our bodies in order to stay healthy. Many of us are beginning to re-think or re-focus how we go about daily activities that would normally have never required a second thought. This attention to detail, which keeps us from getting sick, is a concept that can also help us stay healthy during our workouts.

As a new member of the 30-year-old club, my body is starting to remind me that, if I want to continue to work out at a high level, I need to make sure I am properly warming up and cooling down properly. For example, while coaching softball just last week, I decided to join in during practice and play the outfield when we were short a few kids. I did not warm-up, I did not cool down, and I paid the price with three days of feeling like I got hit by a truck and not being able to work out.

My point here is not to let you know I’m not as young as I used to be; many of my friends already remind me frequently. What I want to express is that our bodies are amazing machines that can perform at a high level, but we need to maintain them regardless of our age so that we’re not paying the price later. For many of us, adding a proper warm-up and cooldown to our routine is somewhat of a foreign concept that we need to wrap our brain around, so here are a few things to keep in mind to help cement the way you think about those parts of your workout.

Warm-ups and Cooldowns Are for Everyone. Many people, including myself at times, think, “I don’t need to warm-up before and stretch after my workout. I know my body.” I’m here to tell you that these concepts are not individualized; they are important for everyone. There is science behind how our muscles perform when warm and loose, and this science applies to everyone, including you and me.

Warm-ups and Cooldowns Save Time. This is a weird concept to think about, right? But, let me ask you this: how much time will you lose if you have to sit out in order to recover from an injury? Weeks? Months? That’s a long time without any workout. When you think about it in that context, a five-minute warm-up and five-minute cooldown seem like a pretty good use of time to help prevent those injuries.

Recovery Is as Important as Your Workout. We all have a reason that we work out. These reasons are called goals. To reach your goal in the quickest and most efficient manner possible, your body needs to function at its peak. This cannot happen if you aren’t taking care of yourself and allowing your body to heal. Pushing our limits is great, but those limits will push us back if we don’t let our bodies recover. Many of us fall into the mindset that we are lazy if we take a rest day, but that’s not the case. In actuality, we are allowing our bodies to do more because they will be healthy and recovered.

If you are unsure of how to get the most out of your workout, with a proper warm-up and cooldown, get in touch with one of our trainers. We’ll keep you safe, healthy, and at peak performance for years!

Goal setting is one of the most important aspects of our fitness lives. After all, how can we know what to do if we don’t know what we want to achieve? There are countless different goals that can be set, but there is one common way to reach them all: be SMART. I’m not necessarily talking about being intelligent, although that is certainly part of it. I’m talking about making our goals smart. They should be:

 

Specific. When we say “I want to lose weight,” there is no endpoint. There is no light at the end of the tunnel where we can say, “I did it!” However, if we make a statement such as, “I want to lose 10 pounds,” we have a way to track our progress. This leads to our goals being…

 

Measurable. We need to be able to track our goal. Going back to the above example, if I weigh-in and see that I’ve lost 5 pounds, I can confidently say I’ve completely 50% of my goal. Being able to see progress helps us stick to the plan. This makes things seem much more…

 

Attainable. A person who has never run a mile in his or her life would be setting themselves up for failure if they decided to start with a 10-mile run. The likelihood of completing that type of mileage right off the bat is extremely low, and the effort could be damaging both mentally and physically. If someone decided that they instead wanted to start with 1 mile, it would not only be more attainable but more…

 

Realistic. There is a difference between challenging ourselves and setting ourselves up to fail. I’m a fan of pushing the envelope; I ask my clients and classes to do it every day in their workouts. When I ask it of them, however, I am asking them to push their limits, not exceed them. Choose a goal that pushes you out of your comfort zone, but that you can achieve if you stay…

 

Timely. Setting up some type of schedule or deadline is a great way to keep your goal at the forefront of your mind. Going back to our first example, setting a general 10-pound weight loss goal could mean 2 months or 2 years! Keeping our attainable and realistic mindset, we may instead recognize that healthy weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week, and choose to give ourselves 10 weeks to lose our 10 pounds.

 

We all have things a reason behind our fitness. Ranging from general health to weight loss to competition, we’ve got something that gets us out of bed or prevents us from going home early so we can train our bodies. Whatever your goal may be, utilize this method and you will be the SMARTest person in the gym!

 

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