Anyone that went to high school or has children of that age can rattle off sport seasons as if they’re months of the year. Fall is for soccer, football, field hockey, cross country. Winter is for ice hockey, basketball, wrestling, indoor track. Spring is for lacrosse, tennis, baseball, outdoor track. Whether you played one sport or several, each season served a different purpose that ensured you wouldn’t be doing the same practice over and over again every day. If you do the same thing for too long you’re prone to injury, burnout, and plateau. You can’t be at your best all year round.
Why did we give that notion up when we became adults? Whenever you find yourself in a fitness rut, why not declare one “fitness season” to be over, and start up a new one?
How do you know when it’s time to end one fitness season and begin another?
1. You dread your routine, and have been avoiding it or putting it off altogether.
2. You have a nagging injury or issue that will not go away.
3. Your schedule has changed, making it difficult to keep up your routine.
4. You have no routine and are looking for a way to start fresh.
Now, if you’re ready to start up a new fitness season there are a couple of rules to play by.
1. You have to let go of what happened last season. Maybe it didn’t go the way you wanted, maybe you loved it for awhile but just got bored, maybe your last season was more of a couch season! It doesn’t matter now. That was last season, and your priorities are different now that you’re in a new season, so you can only look forward.
2. You need to know the purpose of this season. Setting goals for the season will determine what your “practices” (gym sessions) look like. Maybe it’s a fun goal, like learning to do chin-ups, or learning how to use the free weights at the gym. Maybe it’s a body goal like gaining muscle mass or losing fat. Or maybe it’s a competitive goal like running a 5k.
3. You need to be honest about what is best serving you during your season. Even at the most important time of any season, we have recovery days. Recovery days are absolutely crucial to allow your body time to build up to achieving your goals. Be kind to yourself. People miss practice, it happens, just show up the next day and work hard.
Starting a new season doesn’t have to be a dramatic change, it can be as simple as telling your trainer you have a new goal. Or going into your HIIT class with a different focus (i.e. heavier weights, a bigger focus on form, etc.). Or keeping your workout the same but embarking on a healthier diet.
The bottom line is that we can’t expect ourselves to be at “peak fitness” 365 days a year. The idea of being at a “peak” is that you cannot stay there for long–every peak has a valley. So when you find yourself in a valley, find a new peak to work towards. It’s climbing season — let’s go!
Jenny Gusella is a personal trainer in the Hingham area and a coach at OrangeTheory Fitness Hingham. She received her personal training certification through ACE Fitness and also is a Certified Functional Strength Coach. You can follow Jenny on Instagram. (photo credit: Shannon Grant Photography)