In my twenties, heart disease and bone loss and other age-related illnesses seemed a lifetime away. I worked out mainly to stay in shape and my reasons were somewhat vanity-related. I hit the gym three to four days a week for almost ten years.
Now that I’m thirty-(cough) and have given birth to two children, my perspective has shifted a bit. I’m learning that unless you either have a nanny or have somehow figured out how to manufacture hours (and, if so, I demand you teach me this skill), finding the time to exercise requires some serious time-management acrobatics – and even then it doesn’t always work out (get it?).
After my first child was born, I planned to hit it hard and burn off the weight in, say, three months (seasoned mothers, I can hear you snickering). After my second, I gave myself six months (still didn’t happen). I beat myself up back then, but I understand now that fitness means something different. It’s less about chiseled legs and more about preserving bone density. It’s about the endorphin high you feel after a tough workout, and the subsequent good night’s sleep (which at this stage of my life means everything). It’s about leading by example (even when I reeeeeally don’t feel like it), because I want my children to make fitness a priority for themselves.
I’m learning there are cash-strapped seasons of life. My husband and I halved our income when we decided I would come home. That coveted gym membership? Gone. I did home workout videos for a while, but eventually I memorized them (I can recite the entire Tae Bo series) and gave up. I tried Wii games, and that was fun for a while, but I got tired of strapping on equipment and changing batteries and, if we’re being honest here, my Wii avatar was losing weight faster than me (I tend to be rather competitive).
Then, several months ago, a Facebook friend “liked” something called Fitstudio. I clicked, and found an entire online community armed with seven fitness experts, dozens of workouts, and nine full-out fitness programs that span several weeks – all free. Free, I tell you! Caveat: they also sell fitness equipment and online trainer sessions, but the budget-conscious can simply stick to the extensive free workout library. They offer workouts and programs for every fitness level, and each prescribed exercise links to an explanatory video (for those like me who are unfamiliar with the single-legged jumbo flat-backed dead press). Instead of recording a full-length workout video, the trainers instead created the workouts in a list format, which you follow at your own pace – and to your own music.
I started with their BCx Boot Camp, a six-week program designed to get solid results (and nearly killed me). It’s tough, but I felt results quickly – and that’s ultimately what kept me going. During the program, I received a daily email that outlined my next workout and included a tip-filled note from Bonnie and Steve Pfiester, the experts who designed it and who are pretty darn funny. I’ve since moved on to the Knockout! program, which focuses on strength training and mixed martial arts.
All in all, Fitstudio is a good fit for me right now. It works with my time constraints; I can log in 24/7. It clearly fits my budget and, since these guys are all pros, it’s just as serious (probably more serious) than I am about staying fit and healthy. For me, it’s the next best thing to a gym membership. Since it’s free, I thought it was too good not to share. They’re adding new workouts all the time – the newest being The 30-Minute Butt Workout, which appears to mean business. If you give Fitstudio a try, I’d love to hear what you think.