Monday, July 13, 2015

Guest Post: A Simple Trick to Spice Up Your Workout Routine

When I first heard about Eric Trant's blog tour for his latest book, Steps, it didn't take me long to zero in on a topic. Finding a workout routine--and sticking to it--in a world filled with work, life, and parental responsibilities can be tough. Throw a few writing deadlines on top of that and before long, there's a little too much butt in that chair. A few months ago I wrote a post on this very topic at WOW! Women on Writing. I'm happy to report I've been mixing up my workouts ever since. While I do have gym membership, I typically shy away from taking too many classes there, as I tend to get intimidated by the people who spend more than half of their day in the gym. I discovered a great Jillian Michaels kickboxing DVD that has three 20-minute workouts focusing on arms, lower body, and abs. I alternate that with running with my daughter (she's starting middle-school cross country in the fall) and a frontside circuit training workout (also Jillian Michaels) and I've found that the scale may not be moving a whole lot, but my clothes fit better and I look more toned than I have in years. Read on for Eric's solution and learn more about Steps.

A Simple Trick to Spice Up Your Workout Routine

Well folks, this post is for the rest of us. By that, I mean those of us who are not hard-bodied cross-fitters, mud-runners, triathletes and marathoners. This is not a post for body-builders, although I do think it could benefit personal trainers and anyone who leads a fitness class. This is not for trophies, ribbons, titles or bragging rights.

Rather, this is a post for those of us who simply want to maintain an active lifestyle. I want to keep up with my two teenagers. I want to be able, in a few years, to coach soccer and baseball with my sixteen month old son. I want to fit in my pants. I want to take the stairs. I want to lift things into the attic without tossing my back. I want to swim, jog, bike, hike, and ~live~.

Now, in order to achieve these modest goals, I need to push myself physically several times a week. I've worked out formally since I was fourteen, a time which began a short thirty years ago, a blink, what seems to be no more than one night's sleep ago, and during that time I have run through just about every workout there is. I spent seven years studying various martial arts. I built muscle using traditional body-building techniques. I lost that muscle to injury, recovered, and maintained an active participation in recreational sports, particularly soccer. I ruined a few mountain bikes on the trails, and still go through a pair of hiking boots about once a year.

But after a while, even with a workout routine you enjoy, the routine becomes boring. I dropped out of martial arts. I stopped playing soccer (that was the injury). My left shoulder betrayed me against lifting heavy weights, and my knees, still in good shape, show those shallow dips that will, if I keep beating them, later turn into irreparable potholes that will bust an axle if I hit them too hard.

So about eighteen months ago, I shifted gear into a slower workout, but wanted to spice it up by doing two things.

First, I decided to employ a cross-fit inspired workout routine. We used to call this circuit-training, and it has always been a great way to maintain overall fitness. It assumes you want lean muscle, not the bulk of a body-builder, and that you want to focus on large muscle groups, rather than isolating biceps, triceps, abs, calves, etc. Using this strategy, I designed four core workouts, each of which hit every major muscle group much in the way you see with cross-fit's workouts. Still, these are not cross-fit, they are simply cross-fit inspired, based on what I like about some of their workouts.

I lined up the workouts Monday through Thursday, with running on Friday. Man, I got bored in two weeks. Same ol', same ol', same thing for the past thirty years. This on Monday. That on Wednesday.
For a while I considered using a cross-fit site to guide me in my daily workouts (they call them WODs, or Workouts of the Day). But even that felt too rote, too routine. I considered a trainer, but circled back to that same conclusion.

Then I thought, why not let fate decide my workout? I had created four core workouts, and what is more fateful than a deck of shuffled cards? So I tied each workout to a suit in the deck. Then, in a fit of inspiration, I created several more special workouts, such as sprints, boxjumps, heavy-pack hikes, and so on, and bound them to the faces and aces in the deck. I left the two jokers in as free days, to do whatever I felt was lacking, even if it meant hitting the pub for a good day of relaxer-izing.

Then I bought a deck of zombie cards and dedicated them to my workout schedule. Each card pictures a zombie, beneath which is a zombie quote: Remember, this is a sprint, not a marathon. The attic is a dead-end. Literally. And so on. Each one is different and fun, and every day brings its own little smidge of goofy entertainment.

I've run through the deck a few times, and it is ~fun~ to see what my next workout will be. 
Sometimes I draw three clubs in a row, or I strike a run of face cards. I can't wait to flip the next card to see what challenge will face me tomorrow. The best part is this: the unknown keeps me interested. I wonder at the next card, and if I take a few days off, I demand I catch up before I move on.
I know, it's a simple and goofy thing, but aren't the little things the spice of life? Do you have fun tricks and tips that we could all use to sprinkle a little spice into our day?

About Eric Trant:
Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novels Wink and Steps from WiDo Publishing, out now! See more of Eric's work at

Steps is a well-written science fiction novel you won’t want to put down. Following the Peacemaker family through their battle of survival will keep you on the edge of your seat as you wait to see what obstacle is next.

Society is falling to a ravaging virus, and the Peacemaker family is stranded in the mountains of Arkansas. Forced to band with a group of deserted soldiers, they battle to survive starvation, apocalyptic cataclysms, and a growing number of dangerously infected wanderers.

As their dwindling number struggles against ever-increasing odds, they realize they are not alone in the wilderness. A large creature is present in the hills, at first seen only as a fleeting shadow. 

Now the family not only faces impending death from the unstoppable virus, they must also deal with the mysterious giant, whose footprints signify that he knows where they are.

Paperback: 218 Pages

Genre: Sci Fi
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (May 21, 2015)


Twitter hashtag: # StepsTrant

Steps is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon 


Eric W. Trant said...

Thank you, Renee, for having me! We have some of those same CDs, and you are right -- we may not shed all the weight we want, but we feel better, and isn't that the point.

- Eric

Angela said...

Eric, I love this post! That's a really creative idea with the deck of cards. It sounds like a fun way to stay motivated. I was thinking about getting the app "Zombies, Run!" to help me get back into my running routine. I love zombies and video games, so I thought it would be an interesting challenge.

And Renee, I have to admit, I'm a bit obsessed with Jillian Michaels. I have 7 DVDs on heavy rotation. My favorites are Yoga Inferno (yoga w/ weights!), Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism (50 min of cardio), and No More Trouble Zones (50 min of weights).

Eric W. Trant said...

Ang: Zombie app. I may have to look into that one. Keeping it fun is important, especially if you're like me and grow older every year. We forget after a while how to have fun. And what's more fun than zombies!

- Eric

Renee Roberson said...

Yes, I'm going to have to look into this zombies app, too! Glad to hear I'm not the only one hoarding the exercise DVDs. I had the whole collection of Tae Bo tapes back in the day, but that's another story :-)