Two years ago, I walked into my first weight room. I had just joined a gym largely for its variety of classes, and happily rotated between barre, yoga, and dance classes—yet couldn't help but notice a glaring discrepancy. The group fitness room was packed with women, but outside the glass door, I could see only men in the weights area. Hulking, intimidating, #gettingswoll men. After class one day, I walked onto the floor, armed with an app that told me how to use the machines. I fumbled through the first exercise, feeling uncomfortable and unsure of myself as I lifted a set of weights into crunches. Instead of working out, I spent most of my time apologizing to people. I'm sorry, did I take your machine? I'm sorry I'm taking so long. I'm sorry, I'll get out of your way.
The next day, I went back to barre, but a voice nagged in my head that only got louder when my podiatrist recommended I cross-train with weights to avoid my frequent injuries from running. When a friend recommended I try Orange Theory, a popular bootcamp style class that cycles between treadmill and weights-based exercises, it was my first time picking up weights with any confidence. The even ratio of women-to-men meant no one was staring at the odd woman out, and the dedicated space meant I was free to fully focus on my form, without the fear of inconveniencing anyone else. I quit the gym and joined Orange Theory that same week.
Because of its location, I could only make it to Orange Theory three times a week, compared to the five mornings a week I'd gone to my gym's fitness classes, but I noticed a surprising change: I was working out less than I ever had, but also felt stronger than ever. After working weights into my routine just three days a week, I felt more toned and muscular than I had in the past five years, even during marathon training.
When I moved to West Hollywood last month, Orange Theory no longer made sense in terms of my commute, so I sought out a new studio with a similar incorporation of weights. After trying out a few places, I landed at the L.A.-based chain, Basecamp Fitness. I'm not about to get ripped or "swoll," but my stronger abs and lift-anything arms have given me such a renewed confidence I wanted to share the recent changes I've made. Here are three significant ways I've improved* my workout routine in the past year:
1. Training with Weights: The mental benefits of exercise (namely that I love group classes and feel my happiest when I'm exercising regularly #thankyouendorphins), are as important to me as the physical benefits—but I've been amazed at the way my body has changed in response to weights. I can do more pushups, hold a plank longer, and lift heavier things than I ever could before I incorporated weights into my workouts. I've also always loved my body, regardless of how it looks—being an athlete taught me from a young age to be in awe of everything a body can do—but have been delightfully surprised by the changes I've seen in terms of muscle definition. A friend's recent comment that I have "Michelle Obama arms" made me feel preeetty damn good (I'm joking, but also not joking).
2. Prioritizing Convenience: In the past, I've joined gyms and studios I loved, despite them having less-than-ideal locations. I found myself regularly committing to eight-class packages, and using only half of them. For me at least, when it comes to exercise, I'm so much more likely to go if it's easy for me. Now, I weigh convenience far more heavily than I do a class I love (Y7 yoga and Orange Theory, you will always have my heart, but you are too darn far). When I joined Basecamp, which is biking distance from both my home and office, I bought an eight-class package, but quickly found myself exceeding that limit—which had never happened before. And the fact that I'm exercising more during the week means that I don't have to be as concerned when I do miss days, or even weeks. P.S., Though fitness studios are a dime a dozen in L.A., online fitness classes are also a fantastic alternative—I love the Sweat app's PWR program, and asked Basecamp to create a 20-minute workout routine you can do at home. I'll be sharing it next week!
3. Exercising After Work: In the past, I've exercised in the mornings (here's how I get ready at the gym when I do!), but the inconvenience of getting ready at the gym eventually made me dread it. These days, I embrace a slow morning and use exercise as my transitional time between work and home. It allows me to blow off steam, and I just shower at home before any after-work plans (an added bonus of recently embracing air-dried hair and quick styles is that I can get ready super quick for plans!).
What an Average Week Looks Like For Me These Days:
Wednesday: Tennis or hike with Jonah
Saturday: Hike or run (or nada!)
Sunday: Yoga or a hike (and sometimes Basecamp, if I'm feeling it!)
**I want to be crystal clear: I use the term "improved" here because my new routine has made me feel fitter and happier, but exercise, like everything else, is incredibly personal. I'm at my best when I sweat every day but am in no way suggesting everyone is! I'm sharing what works for me—and hope it helps inspire you to find whatever makes you feel like your happiest self! x
*P.S., Basecamp has a referral program where, if you mention my name when you sign up, you get $50 off your first month and I get $50 off my next month! Or better yet, sign up with a friend and you'll both get $50 off (because you can "refer" each other)! See you there!