2011 Roundup: The Best Workouts [Fitness]

I should start by reminding you I’m not a personal trainer; but that said, I thought I’d share some of the fitness trends that “worked” for me in 2011. By “worked” I mean they were challenging, sweat-inducing, and fun! Don’t hesitate to ask any questions, and as always, consult a doctor or trainer before you start a new workout routine, especially if you’re starting from zero. And, listen to your body! It’s the best communicator.

1. Best Place to Run: This is a tie between the Schuylkill Banks Trail in Philadelphia and the Rivanna Trail in Charlottesville. The Philly trail begins at Locust Street and runs essentially forever into Wissahickon Park. Notable run-bys include the Art Museum [you can even detour and do the “Rocky stairs,” but I promise you it’s actually easy], Boathouse Row, West Philly, the River, and even the Zoo if you cross at the right spot. There’s no shortage of choices, and its relatively flat – unlike the Rivanna Trail, which is curvy and offers multiple entry spots and park run-offs. The entire Rivanna loop is 19.55 miles, making for quite the run. It’s not so much the landmarks that make this great, but the serenity of running in the woods and the beautiful views. It’s not as flat as the Banks, but more forgiving than running in Charlottesville proper.

2. Best At-Home Workout: This year, I had the ability to try ‘P90X,’ ‘Insanity: Asylum’ and ‘Turbo Fire’ after completing the original Insanity program in 2010. I have to say that nothing beats the toning, strengthening, and weight loss results I received from Insanity [although I might have plateaued away from those now]. What is more, the original Insanity uses only your body weight – making it much more portable [I often did it in hotels, garages and basements while traveling] and accessible than both P90 and Asylum, which require equipment. I’ve also noticed more bulk in my legs after P90 and Asylum, which I really dislike, but it could be a product of the hills in Charlottesville/getting older, too {*sighs*}. Oh, and Turbo Fire just wasn’t for me: too choppy and a little simple. Soo… Insanity still takes the cake, although Asylum is a close second. You can purchase Insanity [or the others] on Amazon or eBay. You won’t be disappointed, but please oh please use caution. These workouts are dangerous if done improperly.

3. Best At-The-Gym Workout: If you don’t have access to a pool to swim laps, which is great cross-training and helps build your lung capacity, I highly recommend the elliptical. However, don’t just mindlessly glide: ensure you’re engaging your core and legs and really, really pushing hard. You should be short of breath and unable to comfortably read a magazine, otherwise, you’re probably not making the most of your time. Intervals are all the rage now, due to their ability to boost your metabolism and keep it up and the bizarre way they manage to target visceral midsection fat, so try this elliptical interval workout. It’s adaptable to a resistance you can work with, and you can increase it as you get stronger to help avoid a plateau.

4. Best Treadmill Routine: I love Iowa Girl Eats30-minute HIIT [“high intensity interval training”] treadmill workout, and often work it into runs longer than 30 minutes. The first time you run at a 6:30 minute pace, you feel like your legs might crack, but the short bursts of speed give you the confidence you need to become a better runner. Plus, the intervals help to beat treadmill boredom, which I suffer from all-too-often. And, of course, the speeds are adjustable to your skill level.

5. Best Circuit Workout: I keep an arsenal of circuit workouts scribbled all over papers and in my fitness folder on Gmail, but I always return to this one. Squats are, well, necessary, and the side lunges work those oft-ignored inner-thigh muscles. I generally burn after this one [read: limp the next day, because I am a baby]. I try to put a minute or two of cardio in between each circuit to keep my heart rate up. For more circuits, look here and here.

What are your favorite fitness routines? I’d love to hear, because I love changing things up… a lot!


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Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/courtney-marello/1a/375/b30 Tumblr: http://abarrelofoddsandends.tumblr.com/


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3 Comments on “2011 Roundup: The Best Workouts [Fitness]”

  1. December 21, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    Thanks for including my routine in your roundup! You’re right – it seems kind of crazy at first to be going to fast, but your body can usually do more than you think it can!

    • December 21, 2011 at 10:16 am #

      I’m obsessed with it! I dread the winter because I get SO bored on treadmills, and all I do is obsessively stare at the time… this allows me to stare at the time for a purpose, haha.


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