Why Magazine Workouts Don’t Work

It seems that, no matter where in the world the newsstand is, if there are monthly reading materials to be bought, there will be women’s magazines. Where there are women’s magazines, there will be workout advice–and where there’s workout advice, there will, inevitably, be the usual promises of minimal work for massive gain. You know the articles I mean. They are the ones that promise that, by doing that magazine’s specific 10-minute-a-day workout of the month, you will trim your body back into the svelte specimen that you were in your teens.

I have a little secret that, in reality, is nothing more than common sense. The secret is that even if the workout is only ten minutes a day, and, in theory, a really good one, if it’s ten minutes of pure unhappiness, it will not work. Similarly, if the workout is “only 20 reps a day,” but you hate the exercise so much that you rush through them incorrectly just to be done with it, you won’t see good results, if any. Why? Well, the answer is simple! If you don’t enjoy doing something, you are ultimately not going to do it, and when you do do it, you are not going to give the extra effort required to do it correctly!

The thing is, you need to love what you do. You are not going to genuinely commit to working out if you don’t like working out. We all have jobs, errands to run, and chores at home. Undoubtedly, most of you also have children, who cannot be ignored (or left at soccer practice–not that you would want to). Why waste limited free time on squats? Obviously, there are things you’d rather be doing, once you finally have some time to yourself. This non-committal mindset, however, while completely understandable, is what generally leads people away from any physical exercise at all, and toward the cookies and Facebook time.

The secret to workout success is, again, to love what you’re doing. No, I am absolutely not saying that you have to hypnotize yourself into loving push-ups. I’m saying that you need to find some sort of physical activity that you can obsess over on an ongoing basis. For most of my friends, it’s yoga or Zumba. For my brother, it’s hiking and mountain climbing. For me, it’s classical ballet and Irish dance. What you’ll notice is that all of these activities are more of a hobby or a lifestyle than a workout system–and for those who truly love working out, that’s a lifestyle, too, not a quick fix.

Think back: When you were in middle school or high school, what activities did you enjoy? If you played a sport, danced, or did other physical activities, why not try getting back into them? Was there ever an activity that you wanted to try, but weren’t able to growing up? Try it now! Even if your physical activity is simply exploring Caesaria on foot or kicking a ball around at the park with your kids, it’s something, and if you are interested in things like dancing or yoga, there are plenty of studios all over Israel, especially in the Tel Aviv area, that are geared toward adults. At Naim on Rehov Salame, for example, you can find dancers and yogis speaking many languages and ranging from complete beginners to professional level devotees, and everyone is welcome to drop in, whether for one class or a year’s worth. They have even recently opened a second studio to focus more on fitness, specifically.

The point is that if you do something you love, you will stick with it. This includes physical activity. You do not necessarily have to do 100 sit-ups, 50 push-ups, and an hour on the treadmill to make a difference in your clothing size. Find a physical activity that you can turn into a genuine hobby, and before you know it, you will be back in Azrieli, looking for smaller jeans.

It’s imperative to remember that, once you achieve the body you want, you cannot stop your physical activities, or you will most likely go back to the shape you were when you first started working out–a typical hazard of the traditional diet/exercise cycle. This is another reason to make a lifestyle change, taking the “extracurricular activity” approach, not the 10-minutes-per-day approach. It’s a good thing, then, that both hobbies and physical activity are somewhat addicting. There’s no reason to stop doing something you love, and if there are actual physical benefits to the activity, they simply start to become the icing on the figurative cake. (I apologize if you now crave cake. I’ll talk about “diets” some other time.)

Go ahead and brainstorm about what sort of physical activities you enjoy the most, whether they’re more similar to surfing or ice skating–and then give a few a shot. Wherever you are in Israel, there is something for you.

(Note: If you know what you would like to try, but both you and Google aren’t sure where to find it, go ahead and ask in the comments! Maybe the community or I can help.)

About the Author
Rachel-Elise Cotter moved to Israel from the USA in 2009. She's a lifelong dancer, a published model, and a professional in the beauty industry. In 2011 she represented Israel in the International Look Swimwear Bikini Contest, and was 4th runner up overall, out of hundreds of entrants. She loves making people feel beautiful, inside and out!