Living in NYC there are often too many fitness options to choose from. Whether you belong to a gym and workout on your own, follow a home workout program, or are a group fitness junkie like myself, it’s hard to know where to start or where to focus. When I first started my fitness journey I focused on spin classes and some barre and yoga, here and there. However, when I joined ClassPass I really learned how many different types of classes were available and that there were more ways than I ever imagined to get fit. Even better, I learned how many different types of classes I enjoyed and wanted to add into my weekly routine. I spent hours a month planning the perfect schedule to incorporate all these new classes that I came to love which ranged from circuit training to boot-camps, sports conditioning to strength training, and Pilates to indoor cycling. At first I felt stronger and faster. I saw physical results both in the mirror and in my training, it was such a high and I loved every second of it. I was achieving my overall goal of looking, being, and feeling fit.
Then, I hit a plateau and for months I couldn’t figure out how to overcome it, but I knew that something needed to change. I went to one of my trainers who had become a mentor and friend to me during my fitness journey thus far and asked her advice. She was blunt and honest with her advice, and although it wasn’t what I had wanted to hear, I knew deep down she was right.
She explained to me that I had hit a point in my fitness journey where I needed to make a choice on what aspect of fitness I wanted to focus on – did I want to be faster and increase my cardio endurance or did I want to get stronger. She explained to me that some of the workouts I had been doing had been counter-productive to the goals that I had hoped to achieve. Specifically, I learned that a lot of the cardio workouts I had been doing were minimizing my strength gains. She told me if I wanted to keep getting stronger I needed to focus on more pure strength training and cut down on my other workouts. If I wanted to improve my running, I needed to focus on more cardio and less low rep/high weight strength training. The choice was mine and it wasn’t one that I wanted to make. I loved all of my workouts and as a pretty type A personality, I wanted to be good at everything.
The frustration I felt about my plateau was real and despite my hesitations, I knew I had to choose where my fitness focus and goals would be, even if that meant temporarily giving up something else that I loved. I had to remind myself that if at any time I wanted to change my focus that was also an option, and that even though I may not be at the same level as where I left off I would quickly re-gain that ability – whether it be strength, speed or endurance.
Right now, I have chosen to focus on heavy strength training. I lift lower body two days a week and upper body one day a week. I also take a calisthenics class one day a week to focus on my strength based skill work. Although I have chosen a focus, I have been unable to give up my sports conditioning completely and find myself choosing this workout about two times a week. When I take my sports conditioning classes I find myself getting winded more quickly, unable to catch my breath as easily, and feel slower than I was before I narrowed my training focus. While I admit I get frustrated in these moments, the feeling that I get when I crush my strength PRs week after week makes it all worth it. This experience of feeling stronger (almost) every day has made me a believer in choosing a fitness focus and working on one goal at a time.