Exercise Makes You Happy: A Mini-Roundtable

It is a fact universally acknowledged that exercise makes you feel good and gives your forehead a sexy glisten — but why, exactly? A recent New York Times article discusses a new study from The National Institute of Mental Health which “provides some intriguing new clues into how exercise intertwines with emotions, along with the soothing message that it may not require much physical activity to provide lasting emotional resilience.”

Basically, researchers assembled a group of aggressive mice and nice mice and put them in cages together, divided by a transparent partition which was removed daily for five-minute periods of time. After two weeks of this, the nice mice were really stressed out and ridden with “anxiety-like behaviors.”

However, one sub-group of mice had been given access to running wheels and “nifty, explorable tubes” before moving in with the aggressive mice. Although these mice remained submissive to the aggressive mice when confronted, they “rallied nicely when away from them. They didn’t freeze or cling to dark spaces in unfamiliar situations. They explored. They appeared to be, Dr. Lehmann said, “stress-resistant.”

The New York Times cites two other recent studies with similar results: Norwegian researchers found exercise improved mental health (even in small doses). The American College of Sports Medicine revealed that six weeks of bike riding or weight training reduced the anxiety levels of women diagnosed with anxiety disorders.

So basically exercise makes you stronger, happier, more flexible, healthier, and less stressed out! Doesn’t that sound delightful? We thought it would be neat to all talk about what some of us here on the team do for exercise.

Disclaimer: The Autostraddle Roundtable is a smattering of opinions from team members. It is not, and should not be interpreted as, a representative sample of the population reflecting the diversity of our community. That being said, if you’ve got a workout story you wanna share, let us know and maybe we could work on some future posts on the topic. Share your own stories in the comments!



Senior Editor

The thing about my ‘exercise regimen’ is that my therapist is obsessed with yoga, which means that I have to kind of be also or else every time I whine about something she makes a stern face and says “Well, have you been going to yoga?” Her theory is that yoga and its emphasis on mindfulness is really good for people with anxiety, because it helps you practice focusing on the moment instead of letting your brain spin out on a million scary possibilities. I think her theory has some merit. I find that it’s also really good for kind of resetting how you feel about your body – as in, “I can hold that dancer pose thing for a full minute!” instead of “What is wrong with my thighs???” Actually, I think all exercise does that to an extent. Also, as a bonus, I’ve found that sometimes yoga (especially if it’s hot yoga) can really help the back pain I’ve had since like age 14.

The other “exercise” I’ve gotten really committed to is walking – no, really. If you live in an area where the climate/weather is conducive to going outside, try taking a 30-60 minute walk outside every day for a week and tell me you don’t feel way better at the end of it. It’s partially the physical activity, partially being in the sun, and partially the time to think, but it makes a huge difference, at least for me. And since scientists now say that sitting down too much can kill you or whatever, I think it’s probably legit.


Sarah Croce

Miss April, Guest Contributor

I gym it up. It’s hard to do HIIT (high intensity interval training) on your own and that’s what works best for my body. So I try to hit the weight room and focus on a different muscle group and subgroup every time. I.e. Shoulders and triceps or chest and biceps. It helps me to buy magazines geared toward super muscled men because it amps me up and makes me want to show them that women can work out just as hard if not harder, also it gives me good workout ideas. And I alternate iron pumping days with running or hiking or cardio of some kind.




Hmmm…I’ve been exercising for a while now, in one form or another. I pay for some of it, other activities I do for free. I used to be a cheerleader – so, there was that. And there were boys and girls I wanted to impress and I used to hate myself, so, there was that. Exercise filled (at least to some degree) the voids created by those feelings.

But now, now!! I’m a whole woman. So: what do I do? Here is a glimpse at my “routine”: cardio, usually 20-40 minutes on the elliptical machine (see Riese’s much too kind review of my form), maybe 4 minutes of running (I hate running – and am unbearably jealous of people who like it)… and then some push-ups and sit-ups. And sometimes, on a special day, leg weights. Other days I just walk. And others, I do yoga on the 4 x 6 foot free space I have in my apartment.

I exercise because it’s good for my heart, it makes me feel strong, capable and healthy. That’s what I’d say if you caught me on a good day…and I suppose to a large degree it is true. But also: structured exercise helps me feel a bit more sane…a bit more in control – which, of course, is an illusion. But one I’ll happily buy. I also like it because I work alone and it offers a moment where – even though I rarely speak to anyone – I’m around other people.

I exercise because I sit all day…and I’m afraid of what my legs would look like without it. I exercise because it helps my joints. I also exercise because I can – which is a huge privilege.





Last year I began a regular yoga practice. I had done yoga only a handful of times before but was always very discouraged by the activity. I’m fat, but as you know, fat people have incredibly different bodies. Mine happens to carry a lot of weight in my torso—primarily my ample rack and belly. This makes it terribly difficult, if not impossible, to do things like bend over or stretch in the ways required by a lot of yoga poses. So at Michfest I solicited my friend Dana, a yoga regular, to take me with her to one of her yoga classes. It felt safe to tag along to a class with another fatty.

Back home I started going to yoga classes at Re/Dress but when the instructor moved to Ithaca, I wanted to figure out a way to get into yoga at home that wasn’t with a dvd so that I could maintain my twice weekly pace. I flipped through this book at Re/Dress that Deb brought in and I fell in love. I bought it immediately. Here was a list of all of the yoga poses I had been learning over time, with explanations of what they did for your body and modifications for how to do them in a larger body written by a fat yoga instructor!

I love using it at home so much! I can put on the cd of my choice and go through the poses at my own pace. The slow flow of it really helps me. I can sit in a pose a little bit longer if I’m really feeling something. I also like the supplement to the classes I’m taking, because I learn the poses and get adjusted in class but learn more about them at home.

They call it practice for a reason—it’s not ever going to be perfect. But so far I feel really enthusiastic about what yoga has helped me do with my body. I feel more limber, I feel more secure, I have more balance. It also very much enhanced a recent laycation, so if nothing else, being able to fuck in more interesting ways is a win-win.

What I like most about yoga is that I have to be really “in” my body. I need to pay attention to my limits, what it is like to push into the limit and really trust my body’s capabilities. I remember what it was like to be a brave kid and climb waterfalls hiking with my Girl Scout troupe and I don’t know where I got into being a fraidy cat about stuff with my body.

I  do notice that usually in every class I suck the worst. But at the same time, I feel like it is really good for me to suck at something for an hour and a half every week. It’s humbling, it gives me something to work on and I still feel amazing afterward because I did something hard that was really good for me.

At this point I incorporate yoga into my day at least once, and ideally three times a week do a full hour/90 minutes. I get so disappointed when I’m missing Monday morning yoga. It really does set you back a bunch when you miss a week. Prioritize your yoga practice. Self-care is really important and having time set aside for mind/body/spiritual connection is really important.

[this post was adapted from The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Beginning a Yoga Practice]



Senior Entertainment Editor

After a lifetime of fast food and playing Oregon Trail in my youth, I began working out in 2004 when I moved into my first apartment after college. My body changed rather dramatically in those first few months, especially because I began eating very clean and was serious about working out ~4-5x a week [elliptical for cardio and lots of free weights]. Although I continued 4-5x a week consistently over the last seven years, my body plateaued after the first six months and it’s been difficult to jump start weight loss again. UNTIL NOW. Three months ago I began running. Running has changed my life. It never came naturally to me but I began with high intensity interval runs (2 minutes on, 1 minute off) for 10 minutes and slowly built up to ~35 minutes.

I personally love strength training, so I do about 30-40 minutes of weight lifting after cardio. I used to separate my cardio/strength days but now I combine the two, every day. No excuses. I’ve learned the trick is to continually shock the body so it never fully adapts to what you are doing. I had noticed that I was getting sore from running 4-5x a week so I began stair sprinting and jumping rope on my non-run days and that shit will keep you lean. Since I work a full-time job finding an hour to work out can sometimes be difficult so I also integrate Tabata style high intensity circuit training which helps you achieve in 20 minutes which would normally take you much longer to accomplish. For strength/cardio integration I get lots of new ideas from bodyrock which I cannot recommend strongly enough! I’ve felt completely different these past few months and am so grateful that I finally learned how to run.




Music Editor

My favorite form of exercise is boxing, aka ‘boxercise’, the activity where you bounce around and beat up practice pads (not people). Boxing significantly lowers my stress levels. I find that it’s a highly effective outlet for feelings and frustrations that I’m naturally inclined to deny or bottle up. Also! boxing works out a large number of muscles, including ones I didn’t know I had, and feeling them grow stronger week by week makes me feel healthy and productive. I cannot say that about too many other activities i participate in.




I’ve been exercising at the gym (and sometimes outside) regularly for like 12 years, since my senior year of high school. Before that I was scrawny/weak/unflexible and after about a year of working out all that changed, which was empowering — I could carry my own boxes! I could touch my toes!

For my first year of exercise I’d run for 30-40 minutes 4-5 days a week and strength train 2-3 times a week for about 20 minutes. I got a bit obsessive at first but dialed that back within a few years.

My second year of college, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. So basically if I don’t go to the gym, in addition to feeling shitty and like I’m not in touch with my body, I get a lot of achiness in my joints.

I’ve gone through tons of phases in what I do at the gym. Once upon a time I regularly took Spinning classes, in another lifetime I swam laps every morning.  Honestly, I still find going to a workout class for the first time to be PETRIFYING! On my first day of a Total Body Conditioning class at New York Sports Club, having no idea what equipment to pick up and afraid to ask anyone, I did what I always do which is obviously look around and see what everyone else is getting and get those. I’d taken weight related classes before and usually took 8 lb weights so I did that this time. A few minutes into the class I was realizing everyone else had 2.5 or 5 pound weights — it turns out we’d be doing hundreds of repetitions with those weights — some women didn’t have any weights at all! I couldn’t walk the next day. But I kept going back. I always feel better when I’m regularly taking classes.

Now I live in Oakland which means it’s 65-70 degrees outside every day year-round, which is fantastic! It’s a town for people with cars, and I don’t have a car, so I bike everywhere. My present exercise routine isn’t ideal, but I’m so busy it’s hard to do anything else. I go to the YMCA 3-4 days a week which has a “Women’s Fitness Area” with strength-training and cardio where no men are allowed. I’ll do 40 minutes on the elliptical while catching up on articles I need to read on my kindle.

On days that I don’t go to the gym, I’ll go on a bike ride and do 20-30 minutes of yoga in my apartment. I also have weights here to do ab & leg exercises. On weekends my girlfriend and I will go on at least one bike ride of significant length.

I’ve never had trouble motivating myself to go to the gym. Almost everything else I do to my body could be categorized as “unhealthy” so exercise, I hope, balances that out a little bit.

It’s my ME-time. I always say it’s the only guaranteed high you can get without any possible negative side effects.



Other Exercise-Related Testimonials You Might Like: 

Damien Luxe and Why She Loves the Gym: “I began to look forward to the focus and quiet I’d get when I went to the gym; began to crave the feeling of actually being in my body after a lifetime of being kicked out; went from being amazed that I was allowed to be there, to being pissed that it took over 20 years to get there.”

Kate Harding‘s Dance Dance Party Party: “… and then I would just dance. And it was a fucking blast. It was also one of the best workouts I’ve had in a while, and a perfect example of everything I preach about exercise: To wit, if it’s fun, you’ll want to keep doing it, and if you go at your own pace and honor what your body’s telling you, you will have more fun.”

Rachel Kramer Bussel on CrossFit: “I was thrilled when I could lift my 12-pound dumbbell or walk across the Williamsburg Bridge before I started at Crossfit, but couldn’t do a situp without major groaning. Now I do situps with a 10-pound medicine ball, squat with 170 pounds on my back, and know that my back is for more than schlepping super heavy bags around.”

Jezebel‘s A Call to Arms (and Abs, Quads and Shoulders): ” Physical fitness doesn’t have to be about anyone else but you or about anything else but becoming stronger. It’s time we stopped associated exercise with a form of conformity and surrender, because do so is to deprive yourself of the potential that your body offers you.”
Do you exercise? Do you like it? What do you do? Discuss!

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  1. Do I like exercise? Hell yes. I work out at least 4 to 5 times a week, especially in preparation for Croce’s fitness video that I’m sure she has stashed up her sleeve somewhere. Also, it was my goal to be healthy/sexy, meaning, rocking a size 12 but being completely fit for my health needs. Woot! Also, I now play roller derby and that’s one hell of a workout! Skates, fishnets, lesbians, and lipstick.


    Luna (who’s way too lazy to log in….at work)

  2. At least 3 times a week I’ll do 45 minutes on the treadmill OR I’ll alternate 5 minute intervals on a stationary bike with weight training until I’ve reached a total of 30 minutes on the bike. If I get mad at myself for not eating right, which happens a lot :( , I’ll tack on another 15 minutes.

    If it’s Sunday and it’s not hot as blazes outside my GF and I will walk outside. Sometimes we’ll swim in the pool if there aren’t too many kiddos around.

  3. I’m the type of person who can’t go on a run without some kind of ball. I stop halfway into the second stride cause I’ve forgotten what the point was and I’m bored.

    Support is the best way to stay focused on training and the best way I’ve found to get support is playing a team sport. If your fitness levels are a determining factor in your team’s success, then you’re also more likely to go to the gym in addition to training.

    I think it’s important to realize that exercise (as in going to the gym or doing interval training) isn’t fun or even enjoyable. It’s not really supposed to be. But you get an incredible sense of accomplishment after you’ve finished your workout. Sports however are enjoyable and couple competitiveness and fun with working out. With any form of exercise, keeping yourself motivated and getting support is key to succeeding.

    • Also, play rugby. Rugby’s the buffest thing since sliced buff. And that’s a fact.

    • Yeah, it’s more or less impossible for me to exercise without some other goal than just exercising. It’s always like, “But I could be doing something interesting or useful or going somewhere!” So I have never set foot in a gym, and took up running only during summers in college when I had no friends and needed a way to get physically tired enough to sleep at night, which I accomplished by sprinting as hard as I could until I got too tired, then walking, then repeating. (Good form?) And also I am bad at/bored by sports. It’s a good thing I have almost a 20-mile round-trip bike commute every day because otherwise I’d be a sad weak lump of a person.

      • I feel like that too. I was a synchronized swimmer when I was a kid, and when I joined the racing team in high school, I just got so… bored! I had to have some music and variety to go with my aquatic movement.

        (That said, I love swimming laps now – I guess I had to grow into it. Also, I am no longer flexible enough to do a ballet leg. Dammit.)

  4. I exercised about three times a week for about a year in college. I was really hoping it would do some sort of exercise-magic on my state of mind, and while I did like the elliptical, it mostly just made me hungrier. Which was problematic considering I could barely afford to feed myself beforehand.

    I have wondered if maybe I was exercising…incorrectly? Like, I would do 40 minutes of cardio mixed in with some weights. And I got better at it as I went along, but there were no other noticeable changes in my life other than the distressing need for more protein.

  5. Exercise has always been my cure for a bad day. Once I’m done working out I just feel a million times better.

    I just started walking in the morning for about an hour,and since I’ve started doing that I feel clear headed and more focused. I plan on sticking with this routine especially when school starts back up because I will definitely need to be focused with college apps.

  6. my main form of transportation is my bicycle, so i’m guaranteed a minimum forty-five minutes/6.6 miles a day going to and from work. it’s often the best part of my day – if i go a few days without riding i actively miss it and can feel my mood changing. right now i’m also doing the 100 pushups/200 crunches challenge, so that’s a few extra minutes a day of building muscle.

    i’ve tried yoga, which i really want to like because i struggle with anxiety, but apparently being in tune with my body like that makes me more anxious & sometimes results in panic attacks. so i’ve given up on that until i have the money for a therapist too or something. i have also run in the past and it’s something that i really enjoy, but my knee is kinda cranky about it & i don’t have the discipline to stretch every day so it’s off the table as well.

  7. I’ve been doing Bikram (hot hatha) Yoga at least 5 times a week for 6 months now. It is a 90 minute class in a room that is heated to 105 degrees at 40% humidity. It is a cardiovascular workout that stretches and strengthens your body while also releasing any toxins and improving organ function. I have lost 2 dress sizes and my entire body has become fit and firm. In addition my life has become a lot more stress free and I have an overall more happy disposition!

    I also will try to be active a couple other days a week and do an hour or hour and a half of something like running/hiking/basketball.

  8. I have a rugby ball just like the one that sarah has

    Ehmmm, i run and jog every monday, wednesday and friday nights. Go in the afternoon to the gym to weight lifting (shoulders and torso) forwards training!!!!!.

    3 to 4 hours of rugby practice tuesday, thursday and saturday

    And sunday just rest a lot. 0smoking (have to quit it) Not much of booze. And yummy food.

  9. Damn, now I feel super self-conscious and bad because I don’t ever work-out. Sigh.

      • Sorry, I should have made this more clear: Jess makes it sound like she does what I do, which is take moves that you like and incorporate them into other routines. Or take a workout and reduce the reps / times.

        But has anyone / does anyone ever actually do the full workout besides her serious “body rockers?”

    • Yesss I love her workouts. Unfortunately I don’t do one every day but I’m more consistent about that than really any other excersize regimen.

  10. my regular was run, stretch, circuit training, weight train (3x a week), end in stretch, and then do some extra activity (swim, cycle, play soccer, etc) . now that it’s summer i feel like im all over the place and can’t keep a straight schedule but i always manage to put in a run everyday. i know it sounds like a lot but it keeps me in check.

    anyway now it kind of sucks because i’ve had too many injuries in the past month and even though my body craves all this exercise i just don’t wanna push myself farther and come out with worse injuries.

    ahhhh anxiety and frustration are setting in.

    • Arrgh this was meant as a reply to the comment:

      ‘Damn, now I feel super self-conscious and bad because I don’t ever work-out. Sigh.’

          • I’m working now at a fairly physical job, so my arms are getting a good work-out. Usually, my exercise therapy is tourist-walking during the summer and not to be a sloth for the rest of the year.

          • You can slap me if I’m ever serious about opening jars as a form of exercise. Just by standing/walking/lifting things for 7-9 hours a day 5x a week I lost something like 10 lbs. Also, yeah, good arm workout.

          • Did you know that every time Ilene Chaiken thinks about penis she burns ten calories?


          • The F in IFC actually stands for the effect on everyone who watches her shows: fit to be tied.

  11. A bunch of my friends do the PS90x workout program but I’ve yet to even google it, so yeah.

    I looooove to rock climb..although it has been a little bit of time since I’ve been. Indoor is fun, but I really prefer outdoor climbing. AZ has a ton of really great hiking trails as well (and some of the best sunrise/sunset views ever).

    Playing sports is fun as well. Tennis is my go-to sport these days.

    Living in AZ also allows me to swim just about 365 days so there’s also that.

  12. Neither do I! And I’m eating cake right now. We can sit here and feel awkward and self-conscious together.

  13. and now I’m feeling awkward for completely failing to respond in the correct spot. I’m just gonna… go now.

      • i have one but haven’t set it up yet. my trees are too small and i don’t want to break down doors with a door mount. i want to put up the x mount because it gives you more space/angles but still haven’t found a good spot….any ideas?

        • In my gym we hook the TRX to the cable machines but we have really high ceilings. If it’s not too hot outside, you can go to local park and tie them to a swing-set, or use the trees there…

          • swing sets good idea. i might go later on or wait till tomorrow but thank (im stoked nows)!!!!

  14. i do a lot of martial arts. kuk sool won on tuesdays and thursdays, taekwondon mondays, wednesdays, and friday, and then i like to run, kick and scream on the weekends.

  15. I have a pretty active job- I do lighting in theater, so my job has always been a way for me to stay fit and gain strength.
    When my last relationship ended about 2 1/2 months ago, I needed an outlet for all my feelings, and something to do with all my free time, since my gf was most of my social life. So I started going to yoga regularly, and finally took my roommate’s invitation to go rock climbing (indoors).
    Now I climb at least 2 days a week and do yoga and pilates as often as my body and schedule let me- about 1-2 times a week.
    Now I can’t imagine not having exercise as part of my life. I am quite certain it is the only reason I have stayed relatively level emotionally the last few months.

    Thanks for the post!

  16. Exercise has literally changed my life. Moving and being active was something I always enjoyed doing. When I was a kid, I got giddy at the prospect of recess and from being able to play… I also loved to eat so even though I loved being active, I gained a lot weight. I got made fun of for being the fat kid and eventually got sick of it. So I started working out but never really stayed committed to it.

    Fast forward ten years later and now I’m a personal trainer. My routine is intense because I’m crazy. I do cardio five days a week: HITT training, long-distance running, and dancing depends on what intensity I’m looking for. I also lift weights 3 days a week. On the weekend I do yoga for an active rest. Exercise has made me a happier person. There is nothing like that 20 minute mark while I’m exercising and the endorphins release create a natural high. It’s amazing and addicting!

    Oh and like Jess recommended bodyrock is the best! When I don’t feel like making up a workout, I rock with this trainer. She is awesome and it’s free and that just made me sound like an ad. But trust me Zuzana is bad ass.

  17. Roller Derby for the win! Seriously, what other sport lets you hit people/jam on skates/wear fishnets, and most importantly, totally eschews pants?!

  18. Beware of the roller derbying lesbians. Been there, done that. They all turn on you, man.

  19. I really like the gym because, unlike jogging, where I quickly become bored, you can pack away 30-40 mins of reading. I’ve gotten through chunks of D.H. Lawrence, X-ray crystallography, neuropharmacology notes, Ezra Pound essays, English language history and E.M. Forster this way. I’ll often carry on for a bit longer on the exercise machine just because I want to get on with the book.

    (My gym belongs to one of the nerdiest universities of England, so everyone else has their big tomes or files of notes propped up too.)

  20. Rachel I read that thing about how sitting is going to kill you and it’s all I think about when I am sitting on the train or sitting on the bus or sitting at work reading AS.

  21. I typically do yoga or jog. There was an amazing time last summer where I was going to yoga two to three times a week, and I’ve never felt better.

    I second Rachel’s therapist that yoga soothes anxiety, mostly (at least for me) just because it’s challenging enough that I have to focus on it entirely, and thus stop thinking for a while, which is awesome and never happens at any other time.

    Sadly, my yoga instructor has gotten ree-hee-diculously popular, and her classes are packed (70+ people), so I’m all zen and chill and in a savasana-induced trance, but then the locker room’s a crazy cluster*** of straight girls in Lululemon fighting for bench space while talking about, I dunno, how they performed brain surgery that day. (I find yoga attracts a lot of current and former super type-a high achievers. If you ever read the bios of people who started their own studios, it always starts out with “At age 25, Yogi X thought he had it all: a PhD from an Ivy League university, an amazing career as the vice-president of finance for Company X, and a gold medal in curling. But something was missing…..”) The whole thing brings back a lot of high school PE memories, and I try to grab my stuff and get out of there as soon as possible.

    Otherwise, I jog. I like the solitude and a good cheesy pop soundtrack.

  22. This article is really timely for me. I’ve just started going to the gym regularly and the sense of being truly present in my body is brilliant…but also kind of scary. I think it’s making me realise how much I -in an attempt to move past weight-related insecurities- have tried to be as detached from my body as possible. I was scared going in that because going to the gym would force me to pay attention to my body my natural tendency would be to push for weight-loss. This isn’t helped by the fact that there seem to be a lot of people out there that think that weight loss is the only legitimate reason any woman would go out of her way to exercise. But, while these things are still problems, regular exercise is actually pushing me to recognise that I deserve to feel powerful in my body regardless of what shape it might be. And also: I really like feeling myself getting stronger. That sense of self-sufficiency and accomplishment is pretty much the best.

  23. Watching the women’s national soccer team in action makes me want to join an adult soccer team and get bodies like theirs. Because, DAMN. You think 26-year-old ladies have just-for-fun soccer teams or did I miss the boat?

    • Yeah..pretty sure adult soccer things can be found in most cities. 26 is still on the younger side of some teams as well..so yeah.

    • im with you on this one. i’ve always wanted to join soccer but did tennis instead (harder circuit to get into). now all of this soccer is making me want to join a club. so true im a sucker for football

  24. I joined a gym and that worked for like a week. lol Then I found a copy of the Insanity workout online. I think I sweat off like 5lbs a session. It leaves you feeling like superman after, it’s awesome and free!

  25. I bought a bike for christmas and it was the best decision I’ve ever made….I ride up and down the aqueduct on a nice day, sometimes for hours. I want to do it every day.

  26. I swim laps for about 30 minutes 2-3 times a week. Also hiking. Lots and lots of hiking in the PNW. My workout routine isn’t the most intense, but you can’t have everything, now can you?

  27. OH…I also forgot to include my favorite workout tv guy!

    Has anyone else heard of Gilad? Apparently he’s been around for a while (my grandma says she used to do his workouts..so). He’s got a couple of tv spots on FitTV.

    I mean, not only is it 30 mins. of a well-rounded workout that actually shows results in little time – BUT – it is also 30 mins. of AWESOME commentary. For example:

    “If you’ve been working with us the past few days, you look thinner already”

    “We have very little time and miles to go before we sleep. The woods are dark and deep and we have promises to keep, and lots of crunches too!”

    “If you’re going to cross country ski then choose a small country..”

    ..and countless others.

    I have some serious <3 for Gilad.

    • I use to do his workouts religiously. I loved that he had his mom on the show with him sometimes.

      Now you’re making me wish I paid attention to his comments. I was always to busy trying not to quit halfway and end up watching him and his crew workout while I lying on the floor eating a bag of doritos.

  28. I go in stages, I’ll workout regularly for a couple months then I’ll get off that routine and it takes a while to get back into it. I’m trying to get back into getting cardio, my main problem is knee and asthma issues. On both elliptical and jogging, my knee will become very painful. And pretty much every time I’ve done cardio in the past couple years I’ve triggered my asthma, and I would really prefer not to do that, it messes with that good feeling you get after working out. My plan is try using a stationary bike, it should be easier on my knee and it might be easier on the asthma too. But otherwise, I like to do some basic exercises (squats, lunges, push ups, crunches, etc) in my apartment while watching tv.

  29. i started going to the gym for the first time in my life last september and it has totally changed how i feel about myself. i used have the body of a toddler but now i have the body of a toddler who lifts weights. but for real: i feel much more at home in my body now that i have a better idea of what it can do.

  30. Man! I would like to be someone who enjoys exercising. I’m stress prone and I usually try to exercise to deal with some of that and end up stressing more because I feel like I’ve cut into my schedule.

    Also, exercising gets me thinking about weight and being thin/svelte/whatever and I feel like that’s the wrong reason to do it.

    I don’t know. It would be nice to get past some of that so I can actually get on my bike and ride up bunches of hills without wanting to climb off and die in the road.

    • have you tried exercising in the morning? like getting up an hour earlier? I’ve started biking to work in the mornings and I feel incredibly refreshed starting my day. It takes a bit longer, but it’s been worth it.

      That being said, I also play on a college sports team with a prescribed summer workout plan. So I do cardio and weight training 3 days a week, and run/do conditioning 2-4 days a week in addition.

      • I do actually feel super rad when I manage to wake up earlier, so that’s a good suggestion.

  31. I go trail running and do some other assorted cardio. Just bought a road bike and am hoping to use it as a commuter but haven’t started yet. Would love to get into lifting but don’t know the first thing about it.

    Running is probably the exercise that leaves me feeling the best. I like the simplicity of it. I don’t need a machine or a gym membership or DVDs or equipment. I need shoes, and even that’s sort of debatable.

    • Lifting is super super good for you, and not as hard as you think to get into. For someone with no idea how to get started, I’d suggest a personal training session. There’s a bit of a sticker price, but it’s worth it so that you learn things and have someone to spot you and make sure you don’t hurt yourself when you’re just getting started. Ask them to show you how to squat, deadlift and bench press. Those three help you the most, and lead to the biggest strength gains. I suggest asking because a lot of personal trainers will focus on isolation exercises unless you have specific things you ask for. Other things that make girls look really good: shoulder press, any abs exercise, etc.

  32. I just went to the Y today to learn how to use all the weight machines, and now this article. The universe must be trying to tell me something…Hopefully I actually get into the whole workout thing this time. I usually go once and then flop :\
    But at least I walk everywhere/longboard at school

  33. Perfect timing with this article. I have just recently taken up a daily exercise routine (p90x, i need to be told what to do in order to be motivated on a regular basis), and I have felt my anxiety decrease by a lot. My mom died back in september and since then not a day has gone by where I haven’t felt super anxious at some point. But the exercise has helped tremendously. Legiit.

  34. HIIT all the way! As a generally directionless person in life, working out is the only thing I can say I’m genuinely passionate about. So many feelings, I’d sound like a freak. Side note, does anyone else get off (as in pumped up) when you think about how your muscles contract and flex when you run? Guess it’s just me…

  35. Ha ha I haven’t even read this article but the picture of Shane made me LOL, just saying…

    • Ok now I will leave a relevant comment. I do yoga twice a week. I’m in the gentle/beginner class and all of the elderly people pwn me every day, but the instructor is young/cute so that’s nice.

      When the new gym at my school opened, I became a really disciplined exercise person, but after like three months it died. I don’t know what happened. I used to play so many sports as a child…and then at some point I realized I kind of detested working out. The problem is, I have a lot of feelings, which does weird things to my body, like messes with my nerves/joints/etc., and I work at a computer all day every day, so I basically need to get over it and start working out regularly.

  36. I do yoga once a week, which has not only done amazing things for my general sense of wellbeing but also seems to have helped strengthen my wrists and elbows to the point where I rarely have RSI issues with them anymore. Which is FANTASTIC. (However, I don’t really buy the idea that it’s “cleansing me of toxins” or “bringing good energy into the body” or any of those things my yoga teacher so helpfully says… however, the mental and musculoskeletal effects = AMAZING)

    I also like swimming laps, although I haven’t done that in ages, because a) the pool I used to swim at closed down and b) it’s winter and it’s effing cold.

    But you don’t have to work out-work out to get the benefits of exercise. I walk home from the station every day, and I find that really grounds me. I find walking can be really meditative, and I love that. Sometimes I get off the train a stop early to get groceries, and I’ll just walk from there (it’s only an extra ten minutes because those stations are ridiculously close). For me, it’s really calming and beneficial!

  37. Trying to make it to lectures on time is my form of exercise every day. My dorm sits at the bottom of campus and all my classes are on the opposite end on the top of the hill. So for a lazy bum like me who likes to snooze till the last possible minute, running to class is a great workout ;)

    I also play European handball 3 times a week (so something like 5 hours a week). I’ve been trying to make it to the gym regularly as well, but I just get too lazy.

  38. this made me want to start exercising so i think i will, and maybe eating less bread.

      • omg i don’t know if you’re hispanic but my house is always stocked with bread, like if just falls out of the sky but i just eat whole wheat (the darker the better) and now normal bread just tastes weird and i don’t like it

        p.s. instead of bread and coffee in the morning try fruit. makes me feel refreshed like a cool spring morning in my tummy ahhhh

  39. I’ve never been able to get into Yoga… I would love to, but I just get so bored and my mind wanders. However, I really love going to the gym. Three times a week I do about 40 minutes on the elliptical, and on other days I do some walking/jogging. I’m slowly trying to build myself up to running, but I’m kind of bad at it.

    I NEED music to exercise though. I am incapable of doing it in silence, and music inspires me to push myself harder.

    I want to get back into martial arts. I did that when I was in middle school and I loved knowing I could kick somebody’s butt if needed. Not so sure I could do that anymore.

    • DO IT!!!! it’s actually easier to get back into it m.a. , but you might have to start slow to get the hang of it again. still you build back up to where you left off pretty quickly.

      i feel you on the music i let my ipod run on shuffle the whole time and have mastered changing songs without falling off the mill

  40. I started the Couch25k program a few weeks ago, and I’m feeling better than I have in years. I’m also trying to do yoga twice a week, although I’ve been distracted by getting my blog up and running this week.

    I can tell a HUGE difference in my general mental health since becoming active again. Grad school did a number on me.

  41. Fine, Autostraddle, be my own personal message from the universe that people are not making this shit up and i should get my ass to the gym. This is so well-timed it’s scary.

  42. CroosFit definitely equals fitter, faster, both physically AND mentally. It seriously works. I have been an athlete all my life, and I have trained with several different bodybuilders and agility coaches. However, in just three months, CrossFit has pulled my fitness level from rock bottom to kick ass.

    This is one of my favorite Tumblrs to watch, it definitely shows how awesome-sauce CrossFit is: http://thrustr.tumblr.com/.

  43. So true! If I’m pissed I know I’m only one work out away from a good mood. The pumped up feeling in my muscles and the joy from knowing I just did something good for myself is wonderful. (And endorphins of course. Gatta love them!)

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