Expert Opinion: What’s the Best Type of Workout?

Exercise

Let’s talk fitness, shall we?

It seems we’re all dying to know what the best type of workout is, and when to do it, and for how long. Magazines and blogs and YouTube videos like to tell us what works best, or at least what’s trending, but guess what? The truth is, there is no “best” type of exercise out there. Sorry. Was the title of this post misleading? Made ya click.

the best type of workout

Seriously though, if you treat exercise as the enemy, or use it as a tool to punish yourself after eating one too many Twinkies, there’s no getting around the dread.

That being said, there are certainly benefits to various types of fitness. I could do a whole bunch of research to make the case for cardio, or tell you what yoga has done for me … but why don’t we let the experts take it from here? Friends, meet Trinity and Eileen. Ladies, meet our friends.

Trinity Connors is a personal trainer and Eileen Goddard is a yoga teacher. Both are based in NYC, and wonderful! We recently got a chance to catch up and talk fitness basics & benefits (aka they answered all my burning questions).

BShan: Okay, when it comes to exercise, where to start? What’s something everyone should think about?

Trinity: As with anything it’s important to add variety to a training plan. I’m a firm believer that if exercise is seen as a chore, it becomes a chore. If we embrace and enjoy our body’s abilities, and have FUN with movement, then it has that much more of an impact on our daily actions. We are BUILT to move.

BShan: Agreed. I like some variety when it comes to exercise, but my favorite, not only for the mental benefits but because it’s the simplest, most efficient way to sweat, is running. Dat cool?
Trinity: I love running: we’ve all done it in our lives, either at play or for some hard earned sweat equity.  All one truly needs is the will, the way, and a good playlist … these days shoes aren’t even a requirement. It’s a fantastic way to see a new city or enjoy your own after a long and brutal winter, breathe in some fresh air, and dodge a few bikes, cars, and pedestrians. It has a bad rap for being a bit tough on the body if you’re not careful, but if you are aware of your form (eyes straight ahead, relaxed shoulders, arms at 90 degrees and pumping to propel you forward, and a smile), then it’s the ultimate no-brainer workout. I happen to do my best thinking while running, and have solved a few of the world’s problems while doing so.
BShan: Same, same. World leaders should run more. So when we want to mix it up and still get our cardio on, what’s another route?
Trinity: Jumping rope. Jumping rope is like a little one person dance party once you get your groove on.  It takes a while to get the hang of it for some, but ultimately your body will do it’s job and figure out the most efficient way to skip. I think it’s a like taking a little happy pill, that also happens to burn a few more calories than running, with slightly less impact on the body. Remember, though, that some impact and weight bearing exercise is necessary for bone-building and strengthening purposes.
BShan: Got it. Guess I gotta get myself a jump rope. What else, what else?
Trinity: Interval training is fantastic for keeping you entertained, speeding up the sweaty, and maximizing your return on exercise time investment. Typically done in group settings (because who can really get themselves into a Tabata set or burpee ladder without a few others to cheer you on?), interval training is great for community and support. Yoga is one of my first true loves (besides the kettlebell), but this is where Eileen comes in. Yoga has the power to connect mind, body, breath and quiet group practice. I believe it’s often overlooked by many as part of a comprehensive program: you either get the yogis/pilates practitioners, the HIIT devotees, or the cardio-heavy endurance athletes. Ideally, you should aim to hit all modalities, plan to move in one way or another every day, get the blood flowing, and the brain working.
BShan: I am definitely guilty of single-modality loyalty. Interval training sort of scares me, so great call on doing it with a group. They don’t know it yet, but D-Money and Unleashed are about to get recruited for a few burpee ladders. You know what else I tend to shy away from at the gym? Dumbbells. Those are kinda scary, too.
Trinity: Yes, let’s talk about dumbbells. I’m of the mindset that ‘something is better than nothing’ and also that ‘knowledge is power.’  Knowing your body, it’s innate ability to move, and understanding what it’s capable of (yes you CAN lift more than five pounds over your head, and NO you will not get big and bulky doing so!) is better than any machine you’ll find at the gym. It’s also more fun! If you only feel comfortable with machines, then ask a trusty trainer (I happen to know a few who’d be happy to share their know-how), a gym buddy, or do some online research. You’ll feel stronger and more confident using cables, free weights and kettlebells. Plus, they have the added bonus of challenging your balance, your core, and your brain more than seated machines do. A well-rounded training plan should integrate all muscles, including the biggest and most important one that’s sitting atop your shoulders.
BShan: Okay, I’m sold. Dumbbells here I come. This was awesome, thank you! Where can our readers get in touch with you?
Trinity: They can email me about training anytime at Trainwithtrinity@gmail.com, and connect with me on Instagram!
BShan: Perfect! Moving right along, let’s talk yoga.
My first yoga experience was sudden, random, and to be honest a little bit weird. I was interning for a magazine one summer, and when my boss sent a mass email asking if anyone wanted to review a class at the Four Seasons I replied first. Hello, I love free stuff. There were two people in the class, myself included, and the other was so freaking bendy. Anyway, I did get hooked on yoga and have been practicing on and off ever since.
So, Eileen! What are some other reasons people get into yoga? Rather, why should people get into yoga?

Eileen: Most people start practicing yoga for one of the more obvious reasons: they want to touch their toes, lose weight, or maybe do a handstand. But the benefits of yoga go so much further than just stretching, sweating and gymnastics. After the first couple of weeks, most students start to notice other benefits as well. This is what I love about yoga, it’s holistic, not just about toning certain muscles or seeing specific results. A yoga practice is really what you make it. It can be an addition to a fitness program, a daily fitness and wellness program all by itself, or even the foundation of your lifestyle.

BShan: Yes, just as Trinity mentioned earlier, there are so many benefits and yet it’s often overlooked as part of a physical regimen. What are some lesser known reasons to practice, for CTK readers who may deem it for the hippies?

Eileen: A short list of physical benefits from regular yoga include building muscular strength and upping your metabolism, improving bone density, circulation, and balance, and increasing flexibility. All of these are cumulative: the more often you practice, and the more time and effort that you commit, the more depth of results you will see. Yoga also boosts your immune system and your mood, reduces stress, and can even lessen anxiety and depression, making it the perfect compliment to any mental health and wellness program. 

BShan: Ohhh yeah, that I can vouch for. It’s amazing how lifting yoga can be for your mood. So say someone is ready to get into yoga. It can be intimidating! Where to begin?

Eileen: As a new student, it can be confusing to know where to start since there are so many studios and styles of yoga to choose from. I teach and practice vinyasa, which focuses on linking movement and breath, and I think that’s an excellent place for any new practitioner to begin. Going to group classes is great, although I recommend investing in a couple of private classes first, so you can build a strong, safe, and informed foundation. If private classes seem out of reach, most studios also offer beginner or basics classes, which are great options.

BShan: Yes! One of our fave NYC studios, Yoga Vida (which I know you teach at!) has an awesome basics class for beginners. How about a tip for our readers who are already practicing yoga or looking to mix it up?

Eileen: The other recommendation that I make to absolutely everyone is to start a daily meditation practice! Meditation can be a tougher sell than yoga, because asking someone to sit still and close their eyes doesn’t sound quite as sexy as Instagramming a handstand. Even I refused to meditate for years, until I finally started by committing to sit for just five minutes every day. That’s really all the time it takes to start feeling the mental and physical benefits, like improved immunity, sharper attention and memory, and reduced inflammation and pain. Most people don’t know this, but meditation is actually the foundation of yogic philosophy! So yoga and meditation are a natural, complimentary match for anyone, of any age or ability, who is interested in supporting and improving their physical and mental health.

BShan: Preach! We’ve got some tips for getting started with meditation here. I think we’ve made the case for yoga and meditation, yes? Thank you! How can our crowd get in touch with you?

Eileen: People can view my schedule or book a private class on my website, and connect with me on Instagram!

 So there you have it, folks. A huge thank you to Trinity and Eileen!
I think there are two big takeaway points:

1. Do what works for you. There are benefits for every type of workout, and just as Trinity said, any type of movement is better than none at all. When it becomes a chore, you’re less likely to get it done, so try not to let it get to that point. Most of all, exercise should be something you enjoy.

2. Mix it up. You’re going to get the maximum output with a variety of workouts. This also keeps it interesting and prevents a plateau.

Do you have a training or yoga question for Trinity or Eileen? Ask it below in the comments! They’d love to hear from you (and we’d love to hear their answers, ’cause they so smart)

Bridget

Author Bridget

More posts by Bridget

Join the discussion 5 Comments

Leave a Reply