You'd be surprised how resourceful you can be when you have to part with your favorite fitness classes
Gone are my days of squeezing in a morning Equinox boot camp, a lunchtime yoga session, and an evening SoulCycle ride. Nowadays, making it a couple times a week to a favorite class or the gym outside of my basement set-up (a treadmill and some dumbbells; not that exciting) is considered a success. But when that weekly boutique fitness class actually does happen, you can bet your perky butt I'm first in line, front row, ready to go. It's my retreat away from a never-ending playroom rumble and nose-in-a-book research for my next assignment. There is nothing I love more than my regular fitness classes, the way my Equinox boot camp trainer bends down close to my face and tells me to give more and go harder, or when the poetic monologue of my SoulCycle instructor during an uphill climb actually makes me cry. (Those words are powerful, OK?) So when I was heading out of town for a few weeks to visit family overseas, in a part of Europe where asking about the nearest fitness studio gets you a seriously weird stare, I knew I was going to need to improvise to get my fitness fix. You see, after having my daughter two years ago, simply going out for a run isn't enough to get me motivated anymore. And boutique classes—what with their pretty lobbies, fancy locker rooms, and top-notch instructors—are where it's at for me.
Before heading out, I packed my luggage with one-third bikinis, one-third shoes, and one-third workout clothes. And thanks to the newest workout app, Aaptiv ($10 a month subscription; available on iTunes & Android), I was bringing some kickass experts and instructors along for the ride. Here's what I learned when I gave up my beloved classes for a week.
1. I learned how to squeeze in workouts at any time.
One big problem with getting to your favorite boutique fitness class is actually making it there on time. No matter who you are, how many kids you left at home, or how much work is piled on your desk, you have to get your butt out the door to get there before the class door closes for good. Undoubtedly, having kids kind of kills the buzz on something called "free time," so you work out when you can. Sometimes that means an 11 a.m. class with a roster of three (not exactly thrilling) or an over-packed 6 a.m. session where you barely have enough room to burpee. Fortunately, with the Aaptiv app as my sidekick I was able to do a morning yoga session on the beach or a strength-training workout after dinner if that's what fit my schedule best. The Aaptiv app lets you choose your style (outdoor running, treadmill, elliptical, yoga, indoor cycling, strength training, etc), and also the class length (anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour). So when I knew my only opportunity to get a run in was at 5 p.m. before dinner, I found a 25-minute sprint workout that was just right. (Check out these other create ways to squeeze in your workout during the day.) The app functions like a coach in your ear, set to playlists with an instructor who sets your pace and tells you when to pick it up for a sprint or slow down for recovery. Oftentimes, I'm daydreaming about what I have to do when I get back, but Aaptiv kept me focused on the task at hand the entire time.
2. I learned how to visualize and think about form.
When I'm knee-deep in the middle of my boot camp class or Pilates session, sometimes I focus more on what the girl next to me is doing and not the instructor's cues. Oops. But when you're able to completely zone in on the audio and cut out the visuals, you're able to completely get into the groove of how your body should be moving. I'm not the best yogi, but taking weekly Aaptiv yoga sessions helped me work on those moves I used to feel so awkward about during class.
3. I learned how to try something out of my comfort zone.
Every New Years my resolution is the same: Become a yogi. As if it's something I can just become after mastering a few of those Instagram-worthy shots. It's like becoming a yogi makes me think I'll instantly get that glow, start following a completely clean diet, and learn how to take deep breaths when I'm pissed off. But every year my yoga dreams last about a week, when I realize I just can't turn into one of those bendy girls at the front of the class. But away from the sometimes-intimidating classroom, the Aaptiv app lets me follow along to a blissful morning zen session in the comfort of my own space. It didn't matter that my tree pose was kind of lame and that my standing bow felt much better than it actually looked. It was a judgment-free zone and I even got a yoga workout in every day for over a week.
4. I learned how to push myself.
For as long as I can remember, I've been the kind of runner who has simply just run. I'm not the fastest. I'm not the slowest. But because I'm somewhere in the middle, I fall into a trap of just getting by without really pushing myself to be better. My husband says my goal when I race is simply to survive, and he's kind of right. When I'm home and squeezing in a quick treadmill run (likely while binge-watching Bachelor In Paradise) or jumping into my gym's treadmill class, I simply find it hard to push myself to go faster. When I went on vacation to Croatia, however, I had a sudden urge to run and discover new paths and sights, so I connected to one of Aaptiv's running workouts to help break the solitude. I was surprised to discover that listening to a coach tell me what to do as I ran alone was way more motivating than trying to keep up with a group of runners in a class setting. With audible nudges such as "pick it up for 30 seconds" or "sprint to that stop sign," it felt like a subtle way to get me to push myself for once. (One bonus: Aaptiv, unlike many apps, actually has licensed music, meaning you're going to get Spotify-worthy playlists. And there's no need to worry about sketchy service in a remote area. Aaptiv lets you download workouts in advance so no wifi is even necessary.)
5. I worked out more.
When I have to plan in advance and get my butt in gear in order to make it to a class, the stress of it all becomes too much. I mean, I have to manage babysitters, temper tantrums, and last-minute work deadlines just to get out the door. But even the everyday chaos is no excuse when all I have to do is open an app on my phone. Even if I couldn't make a lunchtime class, I knew that I had 10 minutes in the morning while my toddler ate breakfast or 15 minutes before bed to fit in some kind of exercise. The convenience of it was able to motivate me right from my phone, inside my house, in my very own living room. How much easier does it get?