Illustration by Faith Gallegos

Explore a variety of inclusive workouts for beginners 

Now more than ever, workouts exist in a variety of flavors. They can test your endurance, build up your strength or introduce you to true flexibility for the first time in your life. If you are looking to improve your mental health, they can help with that too. Whatever your inspiration is, these five workouts can be a breath of fresh air for anyone’s exercise routine.  

Pilates

Taking the name from its founder Joseph Pilates, this exercise has been used by both professional athletes and regular folk alike to achieve better strength, stability and flexibility. Originating during World War I,  early versions of this  workout were  used to help non-ambulatory soldiers that were unable to walk on their own. At the time, Pilates would simply attach bed springs to their hospital beds to help the soldiers with their rehabilitation. Nowadays, the equipment is much more advanced, with innovative resistance machines such as the Reformer being the centerpiece of Pilates studios. 

With that said, you can easily practice Pilates at home if you have access to dumbbells, resistance bands, a foam roller or exercise balls. There is even a specialized mat (not to be confused with a yoga mat) that can be used while watching or attending classes, which you can find plenty of on YouTube. All in all, the activity’s core-strengthening benefits are widely useful, and can be enjoyed by anyone looking for a well-balanced workout.   

Yoga

The history of yoga is a rich one, as it was conceived over 5,000 years ago in Northern India, and is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy. Yoga actually took off in the Western world around the same time that Pilates did, in the early-to-mid 20th century with the growth of the first studios. Swami Vivekananda, who brought the practice from India in 1893, is credited with paving the way for what is now the most popular exercise activity in the United States  

According to Healthline, yoga can be incredibly beneficial for improving joint mobility and flexibility, including the spine, hips and wrists. It can also improve relaxation and mindfulness while contributing to heart health, strength and arthritis relief. Due to its many styles, it is amenable to a wide variety of mental and physical pursuits. Eventually, you could become a Guru if you master the four primary types – karma, bhakti, jnana and raja.  

HIIT

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a lively, calorie-burning workout that can be applied to any activity that involves cardio (running, swimming, jumping jacks, etc.). HIIT is a staple in sports such as track, basketball and tennis which involve short-bursts of speed amidst periods of more consistent – though still fairly high – activity. Beyond the benefit of increased cardiovascular endurance, HIIT allows you to make the most of your time without even having to pay for any equipment. It is also shown to improve VO2 max, a measure of endurance that, according to a 2018 study from Barbara Strasser and Martin Burtscher, is one of the best predictors in how long you will live. 

Fortunately for Lewis & Clark students, there is a recurring HIIT fitness zoom event hosted by Director of Alumni Relations Natasha Richmond every Tuesday, which can be attended from the comfort of your own room.   Where can students find a link to this zoom?  https://www.lclark.edu/committees/employee_engagement/calendar/?calendar=http%3A%2Fcollege.lclark.edu%2Fdepartments%2Fworld_languages%2Flatin_american_studies%2Fhttps://www.lclark.edu/committees/employee_engagement/calendar/?calendar=http%3A%2Fcollege.lclark.edu%2Fdepartments%2Fworld_languages%2Flatin_american_studies%2F

CrossFit

CrossFit is similar to HIIT in that it can be high-intensity and improve your endurance, but it places a greater emphasis on improving strength. Surprisingly, it has only been around since 2000, yet has amassed a massive cult following in part because of the uniqueness of the workouts. Instead of using normal machines, crossfit utilizes barbells, weights and more traditional exercises like push-ups and pull-ups, to hit a variety of muscle groups. 

Another unique feature of CrossFit is that instead of having a predetermined amount of reps to fulfill, there is a prescribed length of time, which contributes to the physically grueling aspect of the workouts. As a beginner, it is  important to ease into the activities gradually, otherwise you run the risk of injury due to improper form or fatigue. With that said, if you are looking for something innovative and fresh, then look no further than CrossFit.           

Zumba

Arguably the most entertaining option on this list, Zumba incorporates Latin and international music alongside choreographed movements in its high-energy workouts. With over 200,000 class locations in 180 countries, Zumba is internationally recognized as an engaging fitness routine to help burn calories and relieve stress. Although it is not one of the more effective workouts out there, and there has been discourse over whether the dances it incorporates are truly Latin,  it still remains an extremely popular way to get some exercise.

If you want to spice things up, you could always add some lunges, squats or arm curls into your zumba routine. Alternatively, you could also just put on some Marc Anthony, forget the routine and dance like you normally do when no one is watching – poorly and erratically. Either way, prepare to get your groove on and break a sweat.     

In conclusion, for whatever reason you are deciding to work out, whether it be a New Year’s resolution or your parents nagging you, it is important to find a routine that is right for you. A  workout is only as effective as how consistently you can do it. Remember to not overdo it, have fun and get those gains. 

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