Opinion Column

Fit for Life: Be your own boss when it comes to your workout

By Donna Cotnam, Daily Observer

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When taking part in a fitness class, columnist Donna Cotnam encourages participants to be their own boss by taking it easy if needed or increasing the intensity for a better workout.

Getty images When taking part in a fitness class, columnist Donna Cotnam encourages participants to be their own boss by taking it easy if needed or increasing the intensity for a better workout.

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While attending a fitness workshop on the weekend I was reminded what I already knew. Participants in group fitness classes don’t always go to the type of class that suits their fitness level, they go when the time suits. So how does that work out for the participant and the instructor?

This workshop highlighted just that scenario. In any group fitness class there are base moves that can be performed at many levels. If a participant wanted to work harder or easier, there are options to increase or decrease the intensity. A good instructor will always offer options to encourage participants to get the best work out for them.

This makes you the boss. Let’s start with a simple squat, not feeling so strong today; knees achy make it easy on yourself. Stand tall holding the back of a chair, using for support execute your squat. On the flip side, you want more of a challenge, grab some hand weights, hold them down at your side, at your shoulders or press overhead as you go down and up with your squat.

How about push ups? I know they’re your favourite. Start easy, with a chest press (lying on your back) or wall push up. Work your way up to an incline, where your chest is higher than your feet. Once you are comfortable, take it to the floor on your hands and knees. Keep progressing from your knees to your toes – legs narrow or wide. You be the boss.

Any exercise can be modified: changing the length of the lever (bent arm/straight arm); increase or decrease the amount of weight used; your stance – wide or narrow legs; the speed at which you perform the exercise, all of these can change the type of workout you do.

Cardio classes are particularly easy to modify and control the intensity. The first level of change of intensity would be to march instead of jog. Adding your arms is another way to increase intensity. Keeping your arms low or at shoulder height will start elevating the heart rate, but if you want to challenge yourself more, get those arms over your head make you heart work for you.

Remember that the instructor is only there to lead you through the workout, but it’s your class and you can work as hard as you like. It’s always a good idea to tell the instructor if you have any physical challenges, joint or back issues or if you plan to train harder during the workout.

Whether you are just starting out or if you’ve been working out for years, we all need to modify our workouts from time to time. That permission, that approach will help to keep your focus and reach your goals. So keep being the boss!!!

If there is any specific fitness related questions you would like addressed please email them to fitmom@hotmail.com.