Don’t tell my fiancé, but unlimited ClassPass might have been the best thing that has ever happened to me. It was just what I needed to break out of my box gym rut, and the addiction to the variety of classes offered was instant. I spent months bouncing from studio to studio, hardly ever returning to a studio for a second time in a week’s span.
But as they say, all good things must come to an end. When the unlimited ClassPass option was removed, I found myself back at my old box gym. I pulled out my usual dumbbells and thanked my lucky stars that my arms didn’t snap off when I tried to curl them. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I could no longer lift any weight that I used to, and that got me thinking. Did my studio bouncing set me back? Is there such a thing as too much variety?
I never ask a question out loud before I ask Google. I quickly browsed through a few articles, and found information supporting both ideas that when it comes to fitness variety, you need it to avoid plateauing, but it also can deter you from reaching your goals.
Confusing, isn’t it? I decided to ask some of my favorite trainers their opinions on the matter. Here is what I took away.
Progress toward one goal might be slowed, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t fit.
Tim Cohen, trainer at Studio Three and SWEAT Fitness Studios, explained, “There is no such thing as too much variety. Being able to move and challenge your body in as many ways as possible is a great tool to make sure your fitness journey is always progressing.”
I thought back to how, just weeks ago, I did 150 wall balls in less than nine minutes. My fitness journey sure has progressed. And yet, I couldn’t take my mind off the fact that I can no longer curl and squat the weight that I used to.
Tim continued, “However, variety can also come at a cost. For instance, if you have goals to run a marathon in three hours and you are going to CrossFit classes and boxing classes four times a week, then your body is going to be too exhausted to reach your running goals. Variety in this case is working against you.”
From this discussion with Tim, I took away a perspective that I didn’t start with. I was so focused on trying as many different workouts in as many different studios as possible, that I completely lost sight of any particular goal.
When approaching fitness variety, create some kind of routine for yourself to allow rest.
Paul Rahn, Founder and CEO of SWEAT Fitness Studios, said, “It’s important to establish somewhat of a routine to ensure you’re getting in both cardiovascular and weight training that doesn’t overwork each muscle group and allows for rest periods in between,” which really resonated with me.
“Let’s say Monday you do an arm-focused class at one studio, then Tuesday you go to another studio where, [first], you don’t know the workout, and [second], you can’t control the programming,” Paul continued. “You may in fact hit a class that works arms again and thus, you’ve had two days of arms in a row, which is overload. Having somewhat of a routine at your favorite studios is key to make sure you’re hitting all aspects of a good fitness regimen.”
Not only was I no longer lifting what I used to because I wasn’t setting any specific lifting goals, but also perhaps I was simply overdoing it.
There is no set formula, so listen to your body. Use it as a guide to keep track.
Emily Hutchins, a Nike Master Trainer and owner of On Your Mark Training, reaffirmed my thoughts when I asked her about her views on such fitness variety.
“Life is dynamic and we need to train for it,” she said. “Everything comes down to performance and gains. It’s important to evaluate your goals every four to six weeks in order to assess whether or not your training regimen is working.”
Emily continued, “There are a lot of options out there when it comes to exercise, which is great. But, sometimes ‘overindulging’ in exercise can be detrimental to our performance.”
Emily proceeded to explain how too much exercise can lead to decreased recovery time, elevated heart rates, increased cortisol level and overall fatigue. Suddenly, my enthusiasm about the fact that I was working out at a different studio every single day was low.
Of course, just like anything else in health and wellness, your training program needs to be right for you. There is no set formula for how many workouts you should be doing per week and what they should consist of. However, the experts seem to agree that it is important to be mindful in your planning. Continue to enjoy bouncing around to your favorite studios, but take some time to reflect on whether or not your current routine is helping you to make progress, feel good, and reach your goals.