The Workout Toolkit, Part 1

Wonder what his toolkit looks like now...and what it will look like when he's been at it for a while more.
Wonder what his toolkit looks like now…and what it will look like when he’s been at it for a while more.

Compare the toolkits of someone just starting out in a handicraft field, and a master craftsman/craftswoman, and you might see this: the longer you do something, the better your toolkit gets. You curate your tools. You choose new ones, or replace old ones. You clean out the things you don’t need anymore. You get very discerning about exactly which tools you need in order to show up at just about any job. I’m always amazed at the repair person who looks at a situation and says, yes, I’ve got just the tool for this – then goes to the truck, and then comes back with the exact tool necessary to get that really specific job done. Extra points if it’s not the job they thought they were going to do when they got there.

I have an exercise toolkit.

It’s constantly undergoing that curation process – do I need this? How often do I use that? Over time it has extended to my clothes closet, where I now have a rollaway box of workout attire for just about any weather situation, to a milk crate of exercise equipment (a yoga mat, a resistance band, a foam roller for stretching, a yoga DVD series, my swimming stuff all in one place), to the mental tools necessary to get in my workout, no matter what happens during the day.

Come take a look inside the toolbox and how it got used over the last couple of weeks:

Situation: I’m stuck in the house writing on a massive deadline and I can’t get out for a workout.
Tool: An exercise DVD that includes fun dance music that I did for 45 minutes in the living room when I needed a break. (This could also easily be online content – free or by subscription – that I could access from any Internet-connected device.)

Situation: I’m traveling and want to take a spin class on the road.
Tool: A one-class pass to Flywheel ($25 – totally worth it), and spin-specific gear in my suitcase. I packed a one-piece top (read: built-in sports bra so I don’t have to remember two clothing items), a pair of bike shorts, and my spin shoes, because if my spin shoes are staring at me from my suitcase and the class has been prepaid, there’s a really good chance I’m going to make the commitment to show up.

Situation: I’m training for the Boston Marathon and I’m lagging in workout mojo.
Tool: An online training program specifically for the Boston Marathon that sends me a reminder email every morning about what today’s workout – and tomorrow’s workout (the better to plan in advance) is going to be, so that I can prioritize it.

Situation: I want to prioritize getting to the gym to work out, but my cheapie gym is kind of run-down and some of the machines don’t work and the hot tub is often “out of service.”
Tool: A look at my monthly budget, a shift here and there, and presto! I can afford a really good gym membership at a great place that has excellent management. (I made that shift a year ago and it was completely worth it to have a gym where I can do everything: lift, run, spin, yoga, Zumba, TRX, step, racquet sports, swim, triathlon classes, the works.)

That’s all there is to it. It takes time to put together a toolkit – to really think through what your specific workout challenges are and to make it all work. Exercise bands for traveling (or weight training at home), videos, a beginner’s workout class with a coach and instant workout buddies, all of it. It just works better when you know what you need in your toolkit.

(Want to read more about thoughts on exercise “tools” – and especially how to make decisions about what works for you in an exercise routine? Check out my post from January: Tools, Not  Rules.)

Yesterday’s #every48 workout: RUN – 6.01 miles (thank you Garmin for the precision), outdoors at about  3 p.m. after a long day of work (after getting back from L.A. at 1 a.m. Monday morning). I gave myself permission to just run at whatever speed the body wanted to go, and it wound up being “just fine.” I wore weather-appropriate clothes for the drizzly, damp day and got it done – and felt great just walking out the door to get started, because I kept my commitment to myself to do it.

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