A few weeks ago, I had another mole removed on my upper back. This time, the doctor told me to keep my chin up for at least three weeks and no working out. UGH! I mentioned that I would be a walking fool. He said, hesitantly, as long as you don’t put your head down. Well, let me tell you that I’ve been a walking fool with my chin in the air! Even now that I’m easing back into working out at the gym, it’s mostly walking on treadmills with inclines. I’ve been through quite a few phases of workouts and routines in the last ten years, but every time my fitness is restricted, I realize what workouts I truly miss and love doing and which ones aren’t my favorite. I’m also kindly reminded that I don’t have to kill myself (not that I ever really, really did) to stay active and healthy. Anyway, I now realize I have three types of workouts I love doing and that together really make a complete fitness routine for a woman. So here are the best workouts for women who are trying to live life but stay healthy!
Workouts for Women
The secret to a complete routine is to get weight lighting, flexibility and strength training, and cardio in every week. More often than not we are fine with one or two of those, but fail to get in all three. My weakness? Weightlifting. I don’t mind the workout involved, it’s being in the weights area of the gym – I rarely feel comfortable there and it’s a rather anti-social activity for me. I’ve found, however, that most women are missing this part of their routine and we just can’t let that happen. I’m not talking about getting ‘swole’ and muscly. In fact, I’m a big proponent of lower weights and more reps. But for a million and one reasons, we need strong muscles (head to toe).
Besides weight lifting, however, workouts for women MUST HAVE flexibility and strength training. Having a strong core makes your abs look good, but just as importantly it leads to better posture (which we all need to work on) and balance (which will only deteriorate as we get older) – both of which help reduce back pain!
And finally, cardio and endurance training. This seems to be the easiest for most women, so I left it last. I used to run, but my left calf (I curse it every day) doesn’t like running, so I’m all about walking. I average 2-3 walks per day and my FitBit keeps me accountable for at least 10,000 steps per day during the week and often the weekend too (read my honest FitBit review here). Whether you’re running, walking, dancing, on the elliptical, swimming, or hiking, cardio and endurance training is good for your heart and, especially for me, good for my mind. I find I think more clearly and am more creative when I’m walking versus when I’m sitting at my desk all day. So you should walk so you can take over the world!
So here are my three favorite workouts for each of these categories. Sadly, I don’t get them all in nearly enough, but at least I know what I like and can make efforts to include them all.
Weight Lifting | Body Pump
“Body Pump” is a class I took religiously when we lived in Oakland. It’s only offered at 24 Hour Fitness and Gold’s Gym locations, sadly, but it’s the best weight lifting situation I’ve found. Each song is 4-6 minutes and focuses on a different part of the body. You change the weights on your bar for each song to match your needs and capabilities. The music is a mix of oldies, new stuff, and a thing or two you’ve never heard of but will leave you going home to find them online!
I’m not a member of either of those gyms, so I haven’t done Body Pump since I moved to LA and I still very much miss it. My gym does offer a cardio and strength training class that I do like to take when I’m super healthy. The intensity of these classes varies on the teacher and usually has way more cardio than I want, but anything that gets a weight in my hand and focuses my energy on building muscle is a win in my book! And since classes tend to be preferred workouts for women, this is a win-win.
Flexibility + Strength | Pilates
I never understood the appeal of pilates and yoga until I took my first pilates class three years ago. At the time, I liked the class because it seemed like a decent workout and it didn’t require the sweat and intensity my other workouts did. Over time, however, I noticed that my legs narrowed a bit, my abs got insanely stronger, and my balance was getting better every week. Pilates and yoga are some of the best workouts for women and men, but they aren’t easy. And, honestly, if you’re doing it right, you’ll never feel ‘comfortable.’ You can always push yourself a little farther, whether it’s straighter legs, longer holds, or more reps. I kid you not, however, when I say that every teensy bit of work each weeks helps so much!! I only do pilates once per week, but I dream of doing it twice per week. And once you get the hang of the workouts, you can do them at home and when you’re traveling. On that note, I seriously need to find some YouTube pilates channels, so if you have any, please send them my way!
Cardio + Endurance | Walking + Hills
Ok, so I’m obviously a big walker. Shorts walks and long walks are just so my jam. Walking the sidewalks of LA can be entertaining, but I can also get bored pretty easily. Adding in a big hill once a week to my walks and even hiking are great ways to switch it up. It keeps me entertained, but I can feel how much harder my legs, lungs, and heart work once there’s an incline in there. Of course, I’ll add an incline on the treadmill or increase the resistance on my elliptical for a similar effect when I’m at the gym watching my morning TV.
For cardio and endurance, I recommend making it fun. Ask a friend to join your walk. Listen to a book, podcast, or your favorite music!
And if we’re being super honest, fun workout clothes and cute sneakers don’t hurt either…