Stories about how to make exercise part of your daily routine are ubiquitous, usually accompanied by photos of a toned, smiling person lacing up a spotless pair of sneakers or a fitspirational quote along the lines of, “What seems impossible today will be tomorrow’s warm-up.” The advice seems so doable—Leave your workout gear at the foot of your bed so that you’re inspired to exercise first thing in the morning! Find a running buddy!—but, unlike sneaker laces, people are not one-size-fits-all.
We asked Brian Bradley, fitness director for Elev8d Fitness, the new home workout program from the experts at Sonima, to tackle three frequently cited tips on creating a healthy routine. Below, he debunks each and offers a fresh, flexible way of thinking.
Old School Rule #1
Leave your gym clothes out at night so you can exercise first thing in the morning.
New school advice: Work out at a time of day that feels right for you.
If you’re an early bird with time to spare first thing, fantastic. But what if you need to be at work at 6 a.m. or work the night shift? What if you tend to wake up as Crabby McSloth and don’t feel human until your coffee kicks in? “The advice has to fit your lifestyle and your personality,” explains Bradley, a self-declared non-morning person. He also notes that morning workouts are often endorsed for their ability to jumpstart your metabolism for the day, “but a night workout can increase your metabolic rate in a similar way, keeping it elevated all night long while you sleep.” With an eight-minute Elev8d Fitness workout, specifically, “your body will be awake and more functional for the following 23 hours and 52 minutes, no matter what time of day you do it.”
Another point to consider: “Scheduling tough workouts for the morning can be dangerous because your spine isn’t necessarily ready,” Bradley says. “As you spend all night in a horizontal position, the discs in your back are rehydrating with fluid. When you stand up in the morning, it takes time for those discs to return to a healthy thickness. Before they do, they have less give, leaving you more vulnerable to injury.” (That’s also why bending over first thing in the morning often feels so uncomfortable.)
Old School Rule #2
Set aside 30 minutes to an hour every day for exercise.
New school advice: Work out for eight to 16 minutes.
Elev8d Fitness workouts emphasize alignment and quality of movement so that you yield results without diminishing returns. You’ll break a sweat, but for less than 20 minutes. In other words, you can get the job done in far less time and with much better results, and still have 30 minutes left over to read a magazine, nap, play with your kids, or just veg out. Elev8d Fitness strongly believes that, when it comes to improving your fitness, alignment, and health, quality matters far more than quantity.
What’s the point of slogging away for 45 minutes on a recumbent bike if your body functions the exact same way afterward, if your hip flexors are just as tight, if your glutes still aren’t activated, and if your upper body hasn’t gotten a lick of action? Bradley likens the phenomenon of whiling away an hour at the gym, mindlessly bouncing from machine to machine, to a family staying home to spend “quality time” together…while everyone is glued to their phones.
Elev8d Fitness rallies against the “more is better” philosophy and prioritizes sequence and efficiency. The eight core movements that underpin the program are designed to align the load-bearing joints (shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles), so that your body can function as it was designed to—as a unified, synergistic system. And the exercises are arranged in a specific order intended to align your body, activate deeper muscles, and take your joints through a full range of motion in fun routines that take only eight, 16, or 24 minutes. (Try the 8×8 Challenge.)
Old School Rule #3
Schedule your workouts in your calendar.
New school advice: Find your motivation.
Scheduling your workout in your smartphone calendar or day planner makes it feel like something to get out of the way. But you should enjoy moving, not think of it as a chore that needs to be ticked off your to-do list. Schedule your work meeting, not your workout.
Instead, find a workout you love, that feels joyful, free, and fun, and you won’t feel the need to slot it into the same “must-do” category as “dentist appointment”.
Bradley wants you to create an inherent motivator, or as he likes to say: “Find your why.” Your why is your main motivation for exercising. It doesn’t matter what it is—health, appearance, stress relief—so long as it speaks to you and gets you moving. Once you’ve tapped into your inspiration, fuel it with moves that set your inner kid free: jumps, crab walks, bear crawls, and backbends. The more you do them, the less they feel like work and the more fun they become. Pretty soon, these eight to 16 minutes will organically weave themselves into your everyday routine—no calendar alarms required.