Here are 3 basic guidelines to help you take better care of yourself and make the most of your workouts. The more closely you follow them, the better prepared you will be for anything I might throw your way, and you’ll have way more fun.
HYDRATE YOUR BODY
I know what it’s like to run out of water in the middle of nowhere and force myself to press forward regardless of feeling lethargic, uncoordinated, and a little bit scared I was going to careen head-first off a cliff. Because I neglected to plan ahead, I set myself up for a potentially catastrophic emergency, a lesson I have learned repeatedly in my recent endurance training. Our bodies need to be fully hydrated well before starting a workout. You should be drinking at minimum 64 ounces daily. As you become more active, you sweat and breath more, which requires more water. As little as 5% dehydration can effect your energy and performance. Proper hydration also helps you insulate against the extremes of both hot and cold weather, aids in digestion, and a whole host of other functions. The minute you wake up, begin replenishing the water lost during the night. You can lose as much as 2 pounds just through exhalation during sleep, so one little glass of water isn’t going to cut it. Since Urban Agility workouts are only an hour, there’s absolutely no need to get fancy with your beverages. Unless you are recovering from an illness and are seriously dehydrated or you are training for an endurance event, water is the cheapest and most effective way to give you the necessary hydration, and it’s calorie free! In order to be ready to exercise properly, teach yourself to drink water throughout the day. Set a water bottle at your desk and remember to drink from it during posture breaks. Bring it with you in your car, drink from it at stop lights. Keep track of how often you refill it. About 1-2 hours before your workout, you should drink small amounts of water in order to maintain the proper levels. If, however, you have neglected to drink water until 30 minutes before your workout and then guzzle down a quart just before or during, all you’re going to experience is a lot of liquid sloshing around in your stomach. Not fun, especially during burpees and sprints. Once the workout is over and your body returns to stasis of rest and recovery, feel free to gulp down that quart of water. It will help aid in the digestion of your next meal. And speaking of food…
NOURISH YOUR BODY
I once ate an entire burrito just before a spin class. I had waited too long to eat and suddenly I was so hungry, my logical brain had taken a siesta. That burrito, much to my chagrin, sat in my gut through the entire class. I was in serious distress, but I learned my lesson. When you eat, you are signaling your brain to send your blood away from your muscles into your digestive tract. You need to give your system time to process the food and send it back into your body in the form of energy. Your workouts will suffer if you haven’t nourished your body with the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and water well before your workout begins. As with hydration, you need to plan ahead. Know when your workout begins and work backward. If you have an evening training session, have a snack between lunch and your workout. I recommend something with fiber, protein and carbohydrates, like an apple and some almonds or peanut butter. Experiment with different protein shakes or bars or other whole foods. If you are slow to digest like I am, you’ll want plenty of time – at least an hour – to digest this snack. If your blood is still working on your last meal, it will not be much good to your working muscles.
KNOW YOUR BODY
I design each workout to give you a full body workout experience, combining upper body, lower body, stabilizing, trunk and core strengthening exercises with cardiovascular and agility drills. But not everyone can complete every exercise. Since I’m not a mind-reader, I don’t always know whether something feels right to you. I try to check in with everyone before the workout to gauge how things are going, However, it is your responsibility to learn how your body works – how it moves, what it can and cannot do. Many clients return to training after an injury, illness or pregnancy with some limitations. Or many limitations. I encourage anyone rehabbing a shoulder or knee, etc. to bring PT exercises to do when you feel you cannot do a particular exercise. That said, it is vitally important that you spend some time in between workouts to facilitate your recovery, improving range of motion, strengthening weak muscles, and becoming more in touch with how your body should and does function. And if you haven’t learned yet how to modify an exercise, I have become quite skilled at this, so please ask. Exercise shouldn’t cause pain, but it sometimes makes us feel uncomfortable, and you should learn to distinguish between something that will hurt you and something that will help you grow. As we work together, I will start to see how hard I can push you. Each workout gives you an opportunity to see where your physical and psychological limitations are. Don’t miss out on getting to know how strong you really are.
ADDITIONAL INFO ON HYDRATION AND NOURISHMENT
If you are training for an endurance activity of more that 90 minutes like a half marathon or marathon, here is a great article on ways to keep your body functioning and happy in regards to fuel. I encourage you to experiment with different sources and see what works for your body.