Variety Is The Spice Of Life And…Fitness

Though it may not feel like it, fall is officially here in Stafford, Va. The temps are slowly dipping, there is an occasional early morning chill and the leaves are starting to turn various shades of red, gold and brown. We see, hear, smell, taste and touch the change of season with all the various u-pick apple farms, pumpkin patches, football games, homecoming dances and tasty spices in our food, too. For most of us, the change and variety is a welcome change. The same can be said of fitness!

Did you know that the body’s nervous system, muscles, and other physiological systems can adapt to a workout routine in as little as six to eight weeks? While this makes your routine comfortable and predictable, it comes at a cost. If you don’t change up your routine, your fitness level will plateau, and you may be left wondering why you aren’t making any progress.

According to a recent article by Healthline, to maintain a healthy and balanced exercise regimen, it’s important to diversify your workouts with a variety of activities. Make sure you cover the five main elements of fitness: Aerobic Exercise, Strength Training, Core Exercises, Balance Training, and Stretching.

Aerobic Exercise
When you think about working out, aerobic or cardiovascular exercise may be your ‘go to’, but it’s only part of the balanced exercise regimen. Aerobic exercise includes any type of endurance activity that increases your heart rate for a prolonged period of time, causes you to breathe faster, maximizes the oxygen level in your blood, and uses your large muscle groups.

If you always complete the same aerobic workout in the same way, you may reach a fitness plateau quickly. To avoid this issue, vary the frequency, intensity, type and time of your workouts.

It’s important to remember that your heart is a muscle that also needs to be strengthened. The current guidelines from the American Heart Association recommends moving your body in some way for 50 minutes every day. Aim for two to three 50-minute aerobic workouts or Group Ex classes per week if just starting out. At the Rouse Center, you could easily meet this goal with the the Couch to 5K Training Group, a new sport, a new Group Ex class or a new Water Ex class. We offer Cycle, Kick and Tone, Cardio Barre, Zumba, Step, Mixxed Fit, Warrior Workout, Move It and Water Ex classes, just to name a few options. Spice up your workout this fall. Take care of your heart with some variety of exercises and watch your aerobic strength reach new levels.

Strength Training
When it comes to Strength Training, it’s especially hard to build muscle if you don’t add variety. Strength training and resistance exercises use a stimulus, such as bodyweight or a physical weight, to give your muscles something to work against. Over time, your muscles can also adapt to that stimulus. To see progress, you need to gradually introduce stimuli that are progressively more challenging, such as progressively higher intensity, heavier weights, higher reps or resistance bands.
At the Rouse Center, we offer a wide variety of strength classes, as well. Check out Kettlebell AMPD, Bootcamp, Cardio Sculpt, Total Strength, Out of the Box and AMPD Strength among many other options. Aim for two to three strength training workouts per week.

Core Exercises
In addition to Aerobic and Strength Training, it’s critical to add Core Exercises daily. These exercises work the muscles in your chest, stomach, pelvis, and back and are also crucial to good posture and optimal fitness.

All the classes at the Rouse Center target your core strength, so you can’t go wrong with a Group Ex or Water Ex class. Yoga is an especially awesome core strengthening workout. If working out on your own, look for weight machines that target your core muscles.

Balance Training
Balance is another component of fitness that many people overlook. As you age, proper balance becomes increasingly important to a well-rounded fitness program. Without good balance, you’re more prone to falls or injuries.
There are so many options to improve your balance. Taking a yoga class is a great way to work on balance in a group setting, but it’s also possible to practice yoga and other balance activities on your own. Even simple exercises, such as standing on one leg for an extended period can help improve your stability.

Stretching is the final component of a complete fitness routine. If you lack flexibility, your muscles will be tight and your range of motion will be limited. As a result, you may have pain in your back, shoulders, legs or other parts of your body that are tight. Sound familiar? If so, you may be a prime candidate for stretching, Yoga or Pitaiyo, a mixture of Pilates, Tai Chi and Yoga.

I hear a lot of people say that they have zero flexibility and therefore could never do a yoga class, however, that is exactly the reason they should do a Yoga class. Taking time to improve your flexibility will release muscular tension and guide your joints through a fuller range of motion. Who knows? It might just minimize a few aches and pains, too.

Aim to stretch every day after exercise or at least two to three times a week with simple stretches that target each major muscle group, including your arms, shoulders, chest, abdomen, back, legs, and hips.

Put it into practice
The best way to avoid a fitness plateau is to continuously vary your workout routine every six to eight weeks. Or just think of switching up your workouts every season. Remember to include all five elements of fitness training: Aerobic Exercise, Strength Training, Core Exercises, Balance Training, and Stretching.

Examine your current routine and ask yourself if any of these five elements are lacking. If so, the fall is a great time to expand and diversify your workouts by adding new activities that are missing. Group Ex and Water Ex classes can help you incorporate all five elements. Personal Trainers can custom fit a program to your needs if you prefer some one on one challenge and accountability.

Take advantage of all the various options at the Rouse Center to meet the goal of a balanced workout program this fall. The options are many: Group Ex classes, Water Ex classes, Personal Training, Volleyball, Basketball, Pickleball, Couch to 5K Training Group, the Halloween 5K Fun Run, the Frosty 5K Fun Run, Karate, Swim Lessons and more. For more information on these and all the other Sports, Fitness and Aquatics options at the Rouse Center, check out our website at

Variety really is the spice of life…and fitness! Diversify your workouts this fall, continue to challenge yourself with new classes or a new independent workout plan and start living your best life now!

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