If you knew me anywhere from say the years 1997 to 2012 you probably would also know that I hated to exercise. Yes, that's right, hated it. But that all changed a little over a year ago, when after an extremely stressful and overwhelming year of traveling and high pressure gigs, I decided it was time for a change. I started gradually on the treadmill with alternating walking and running, lifted light weights in the gym, practiced as much yoga as I could fit in, and slowly but surely got myself back into the swing of things.
I had tried so many times in the past to commit to regular exercise, and it was always a short-lived endeavor in which I would soon find myself falling back into my previous couch-dwelling ways. What was different about this time? How did I keep it going? Well, I believe that it was the fact that I gave myself permission to fail. That may sound a little backwards, but hear me out. I used to believe that my workout was a failure if I couldn't make it through a 30 minute jog with out stopping to walk, or if I didn't spend quite enough time working each muscle group, or if god forbid, I skipped a day when I promised myself that today had to be a work-out day. However, once I gave myself to permission to just start walking when I couldn't run anymore, or quit my weight routine a few minutes early, or if I was really just having a bad day, skip the gym all together. And bit by bit, I found myself actually enjoying exercise! Eventually the benefits of how I felt after a workout, no matter how little or much I did that day, started to outweigh just how hard it was at first.
But enough of this inspirational soapboxing! Let's get to the point of this post. About a month ago I discovered something that revolutionized my workout, and more importantly, drastically improved the results I was seeing. It was an ariticle published in The New York Times called "The Scientific 7-Minute Workout." It really does take just 7 minutes of your time and the best part about it, especially for us traveling folk, is that you don't need a gym or any equipment, just your beautiful self! I saw more changes in my muscular structure in just the first 2 weeks of doing this workout than I did from anything else in the entire previous year of my varied workouts. I have never had definition in my arms before, and I do now! How exciting is that?! Ok maybe not as exciting as the thrill of hearing Pavarotti sing the high B Natural in "Nessun Dorma" live, or discovering you've just been upgraded to First Class for the rest of your life for FREE, but pretty darn exciting, for me at least.
The gist of this workout is completing each exercise below for 30 seconds each at a high intensity level (about an 8 on a scale to 10) and taking a 10 second rest in between each exercise. And if you can't do every exercise at first, that's ok, cut yourself a break. When I first started, I could not complete one regular push-up, so I did them first with my knees on the floor, and after a few days, the real ones started to come. Oh, and just a side note, there is actual science behind the "Scientific 7-Minute Workout. Would you expect any less from The New York Times? Here is the original article where you can read in more detail about said science, and also here is an Iphone app (don't worry it's free) that I use which counts out the exercises so you don't have to keep referring back to the picture below, gym whistle included.
Like I said before, give yourself permission to fail, take it slow, and eventually you may find yourself, bit by bit, actually enjoying YOUR workout.