How To Spring Clean Your Fitness Routine

A foolproof plan

by Molly Hurford

Since January, you might have been working out on the regular (thanks, New Year's resolutions!), but as the weeks and months tick away, you might have noticed that you’re not meeting all of your fitness and wellness goals. It happens. But now that spring is here, you can reassess what's messy in your fitness routine, and clean it up. Here's how.

What’s Messy: You just don’t have the time for regular exercise

Clean it up: You know those coffee mugs that remind us that Beyoncé also has 24 hours in a day? Or the saying that one hour a day is only 4 percent of your day in total? There are so many cliches for pointing out that we all have time, it’s just a matter of prioritizing. But, of course, that’s easier said than done. Regular exercise has mental, emotional, and physical benefits, duh. Daily workouts? Kind of a hassle if you have an already jam-packed schedule. Consider this, though: Exercise has been shown to actually boosts your work productivity, so even if you have to cut your work time shorter to sneak in a quick sweat sesh, you’ll come back refreshed and actually get more done. Even if exercise means adding a quick 10-minute yoga video in the morning (there are tons of great free ones on YouTube), a 20-minute walk during your lunch break at work, or a bike commute to the office, you’ll find that once you add even a super-quick workout to your day, you’ll be more inclined to take a longer walk, a run, a spin class… But start small, with tiny add-ins to your day that are so manageable you’ll forget they even count as workouts. 

What’s Messy: Your New Year’s resolution was to “get in shape” or “lose five/10/20 pounds,” but it hasn’t happened

Clean it up: Your problem is that your goal was too ambiguous, to begin with. Dropping five pounds is such a generic goal, you’ve probably made it every year for the last decade (I know I had since I was 16 years old!). Rather than these oversimplified goals, make new ones that focus more on action rather than an open-ended result, like “run a 10K in July;” this will still help you reach getting in shape or dropping a few pounds, but it’s something that you can make a plan for. Find a goal and set a specific date to reach it. Then, do the homework: Find a simple training plan that will help you reach that goal, and drop it into your agenda, calendar, or planner. And then start.

What’s Messy: You do the same workout, over and over, and aren’t seeing results

Clean it up: Most people new to fitness whose only goal is to "get in shape" usually start with one workout and stick to it. Maybe they do spin class twice a week or go jogging three miles four days a week, but the problem is that without new inputs and challenges, they end up plateauing on their fitness goals and likely losing motivation in the process. Simply put, it’s boring AF. And funny enough, even a workout regimen that made you drop pounds or gain muscle a few months ago may be too easy for you now, and that’s why you’ve hit the wall. Classes like CrossFit will help push you to constantly add weight or speed. If you’re in a structured setting, feel free to talk to your instructor about your goals. If you’re a solo fitness junkie, switch up your routine. Add a few 10-second sprints to your normal easy paced runs, minutes of sun salutations to your yoga routine, or an extra mile to your bike ride. Just make sure not to add intensity, weight, and distance to your workout all at once. Pick one thing to change at a time to avoid injury or burnout. 

What’s Messy: You’re SO freaking bored at yoga class these days

Clean it up: Sometimes, a yoga teacher that started as a perfect soul sister-style guru for you can feel stale after your 100th savasana and namaste. Try mixing it up with hot yoga, meditation class, or even completely switching to doing something new, like aerial silks. If you truly do love a more traditional yoga flow, you may just need a new instructor—nothing against your old favorite— and that's okay.

What’s Messy: You’re always famished after a workout… And you’re actually gaining weight by hitting the gym

Clean it up: You’re working out to drop pounds or get in shape, so why would you snack right before you hit the treadmill? Sounds counter-intuitive, but it can actually be a huge boost to your workout and help kick-start your metabolism. Just a small snack—around 150 calories or so—should be enough to rev your metabolism and boost your blood sugar, so you hit your workout with enthusiasm, rather than hitting the juice bar with enthusiasm post-workout. The biggest mistake people trying to drop weight or build muscle tend to make with nutrition is not fueling for the workout, and then bingeing afterward. If you went through a super-sweaty session and are famished after, swap the high-carb juice or smoothie for one with around 20 grams of protein plus some carbs in order to promote muscle growth and adaptation, and fill you up so you don’t get into the leftover Easter candy. 

What’s Messy: You’ve noticed an increase it UTIs, itchiness, or rashes “down there” or on your underarms

Clean it up: Clean it up. Literally. The problem with the whole athleisure style and going from hot yoga to brunch is that we’re now going from hot yoga to brunch in our same sweaty underwear. Spin class is one of the worst offenders for creating repeat UTIs and yeast infections because if you’re not changing out of your bike shorts before heading home after getting sweaty and chaffed (let’s be honest) on that spin bike, you’re creating a petri dish of bacteria in your pants. I’ve seen it up close under a microscope, and it’s not pretty. That chaffing can invite "fun" things like rashes, saddle sores, UTIs, and yeast infections. All of these issues are easily preventable: Get sweaty, then clean up and change clothes. Even if you can’t shower at the moment, use baby wipes to get those sensitive areas (underarms and lady bits) cleaned up and swap underwear at the very minimum. Plus, you might look fab at brunch in those shiny yoga tights, but you probably don’t smell great. 

What’s Messy: You’re queen of the cardio, but can’t do a push-up

Clean it up: This isn’t just about looking great in skinny jeans, this is about your overall health (and, okay, those skinny jeans). You’ve probably found that you’re hitting a plateau in your training and your weight loss (if that’s a goal for you). Strength training can be a great addition to virtually every type of cardio that you can think of. Runners need it to build core and keep their legs injury-free, and fitness fanatics who dig on spin class or Zumba will see major gains in fat loss and lean muscle growth by adding in a few strength training sessions. See what your gym offers for group classes that focus on strength, not cardio, and swap out one session per week. If you’re not using a gym, you can still strength train at home: a big bag of rice or gallon jugs of water work as free weights, so you don’t even need to drop serious $$$ on a fancy setup. 

What’s Messy: Your drawer of various athleisure clothes, random sneakers, and torn socks

Clean it up: A literal spring cleaning is in order here! Start by getting rid of your really wrecked gear—the socks with holes in them, the leggings that are just too tight and you never wear, the T-shirt with the pit stains… It’s a lot easier to get your workout in—especially if you’re one of the people who has very limited time—if you only have clothing, shoe and gear options that you love, and that are clean and in good working order. After you’ve taken stock and reorganized your drawers, so your gear is easier to grab quickly, think about what gear you really need to stay motivated and to properly do your training. That might mean a new yoga mat (they do wear out!) or new running shoes (you should replace them roughly every 400 miles of wear and tear). It could also mean a cute new sports bra and legging set because, hey, you’re working hard and you deserve to treat yo’ self every so often.