Cardio. A lot of people hate it, but it is absolutely necessary for good health. It’s the exercises that leave you sweaty, breathing heavy, and leaves you with messy hair and a red face (is that just me?) Cardio is short for cardiovascular exercise, so this type of workouts raise your heart rate. Cardio is the key for weight loss programs as it helps increase your metabolism as well. We often forget that our heart is a muscle, an important muscle, that deserves just as much attention as the rest of our muscles.
Growing up, I was always in a sport of some sort. Soccer, softball, volleyball, cheerleading, tumbling, etc. I’ve also been dancing for years on years; dancing so much I even got a degree in it. In my college days, I would dance for 25-30 hours a week, and when I wasn’t dancing, I was running around with kids at the YMCA, or frolicking on the beach. My body was in such great shape, I didn’t have to think too hard about a workout routine because I was so active. Fast forward to 2018 where I am now forced to find ways to workout and lose some of the postgrad depression weight. I miss my dance body everyday, and it has been really hard finding myself feeling so out of touch with my body. I like to go to Yoga and Zumba, but some days I really just feel like working out to my old dance music and doing what I feel like doing.**
I use a variety of machines at the gym, especially for cardio. I hate the idea of doing the same thing every time I’m in the gym (hence why I didn’t become a ballerina, too much repetition.) I make sure to always go on at least 3 different cardio machines, and I rotate through about 6 different machines. I do this not only because I hate too much repetition, but also to always be challenging my body. I personally try to do cardio for 45-60 minutes and then strength/stretch for another 45-60 minutes. I really try to listen to my body while working out instead of my mind. Your mind will tell you to stop running and walk, to only do 3 sets instead of 4, but your body can always push through. I also listen to what my body needs that day. I do a self-check before I get to the gym just to take note of what is going on in my body. How is my knee that I have to wear a brace for? Am I feeling tired or weak? Do I have cramps? How much food/water did I consume pre-workout? I take note of these things before I get going so I can choose what cardio I do that day. I have a bad knee, so running or the stair master aren’t always the smartest option. The 6 machines I rotate between are:
- Elliptical Glider
- Elliptical Trainer
- Stair Master
- Rowing Machine
I do not often bike, but it is a nice option to have. I also prefer the Elliptical Glider over the Elliptical Trainer. The glider has stationary handles and is very lower body based. I find better results from this machine, but I still use the Elliptical Trainers on certain days.
I’ll go ahead and take you through my workout from today…
I began with the Elliptical Glider. I almost always do an elliptical workout before any other cardio because it warms up my body and gets my mind in the right place. Today I went on for 15 minutes and within that time span, my distance is between 1.5-2 miles, and I burn between 100-200 calories. Keep in mind the calories I burn will be different from the calories you burn based on weight, age, and execution. I usually put the Glute 2 workout on because it goes through a series of height changes and tells you when to go forwards and backwards. This really works your booty and thighs, which is something I like. I like ellipticals because they do offer a variety of workout options that can fit the needs of many. Let me know your favorite options, I am always up for new challenges!
Next, I hopped on to the treadmill (more like the DREADmill…just kidding.) Here, I have a method that works really well for me. I made a playlist on my phone (I use Apple Music, but anything works) and I use a variety of songs that are at least 4 minutes long each. I then run one song, walk one song, and repeat until the playlist is over. My playlist grows over time and went from a total of 4 songs, but now I am up to 6. I run for about 15 minutes and walk for about 15 minutes. I typically walk at speed 3.5-4.0 and run at speed 5.0-5.5 depending on how I am feeling. I find this works better than watching how long I run on the machine because then I am distracted and focusing too hard on how long I am running vs the quality of my running. Now, I have a bad knee, so this might seem not very impressive or hard for those of you out there that are runners. Sometimes, I do go run 2 miles straight, but my physical therapists don’t like when I do that. But this is how I do the treadmill, and I suggest it for those who have injuries or are trying to really get into running.
Then, I went to the Rowing Machine. This is one of my favorites because I am really working on building upper body strength, and this also adds cardio to strength training. The rowing machine is a challenge! I like to go between 2 different routines for how long and how much I do. One is based on time, so I go for 5 minutes and do 3 sets of this. The other is based on distance, so I do 500 meters and do 3 sets. Today was a distance day and as hard as it was, I felt really great afterwards. I am really trying to tone my arms and upper back, so I think this is a great machine to choose to do at least twice a week. If you are new to the rowing machine, I highly recommend talking to a trainer at your gym. When I first started the rowing machine in college, my form was wrong and it was really hurting my back. My friend finally was able to help me out and show me the proper way and I got a lot more out of the workout!
Finally, I always try to bring my yoga mat so I can do strength/stretching after a workout. I love lifting weights, but I also love working out using my body weight especially after being on machines for an hour! I’m sure I will eventually feel secure enough to make posts about strength and stretching, but for now all I can say is do not underestimate the power of squats, push-ups, and sit-ups for a simplistic routine! I encourage everyone to workout to the best of their abilities and to try new things. Go to that step class, try the rowing machine, find a new stretch. You never know, you might just find something that really clicks!
**Note: I am not a professional in any way. I do understand how bodies work due to my extensive knowledge in the dance/kinesiology field. I do what I was taught and what works for me. Not all workouts are one size fits all, and not everyone likes the same thing. I enjoy my workouts and always love advice on what others do, but ultimately, workouts are up to the body performing the exercises. We keep positive attitudes here and only spread good vibes!