I’ve spent the past 9 months doing various 30-day lifestyle experiments which have targeted many different aspects of my life. However, I had yet to do one concerning fitness so I figured it was about time. The month of May was an attempt to do something active and different every day as a means to get out of my comfort zone to try new methods of exercise. As with every other experiment I’ve done so far, aspects of them have crept their way into my life and have become habit (compost bin, talking with strangers on the train, minimalism, eating less meat and more veggies, reading short stories, having sober weekends and not feeling weird about it, etc) and I’m sure that this fitness month will be no exception to that. As with any good experiment it is important to first ask the right kinds of questions. I wanted to find answers to questions like: “Is broomball a legitimate form of exercise?” or “Should I spend my time going to the gym or playing pickup soccer?” or “Do I get a better workout when I do them alone or with friends?” I definitely found some answers to those questions and I’ll recap some of them in this post.
I did a total of 27 different kinds of workouts this month, it was pretty tough logistically but with a little bit of organization and a whole lot of supportive friends I managed to do it. The only repeat workouts were running during Ragnar and hiking during my Hawaii trip. In sum, I ended up doing 31 total bouts of exercise, some more intense than others but at the end of the day I accomplished my goal of getting out of my comfort zone and trying out new exercises. For a full list of the workouts I did, scroll to the bottom of this post.
At the beginning of the month I bought a heart rate monitor because as an engineer, I had to find a way to measure my experiment. How do my new workouts compare to my habitual workouts and how do all of those relate to my overall fitness level? Here’s a chart for min/max/average heart rates for each exercise I did this month. I managed to either forget or mess up my heart rate data for only 3 of my workouts, so they’re omitted from this chart, showing 28 out of the 31 workouts I did this month:
Having the heart rates recorded is one thing, but what’s more important is to put these into context of your training zones which differ from person to person depending primarily on age and resting heart rate (54bpm for me): Fat Burning Zone (125-160bpm), Aerobic Zone (160-174), Anaerobic Threshold Zone (174-181), and Anaerobic Zone (181-195). I won’t go through how I calculated the zones because it’s pretty well-established and you can find the equations online anywhere. HERE are the equations I used. Here’s the chart with the zones overlaid on my heart rate data:
In terms of Average Heart Rate, I did not have any exercises that were in my Anaerobic Threshold Zone nor in my Anaerobic Zone. Most of my workouts landed me in the Fat Burning Zone:
- Fat Burning Zone: Broomball, Harvard Stadium, Soccer, Lead Climbing, Plyometrics, Ragnar 1/2/3, Insanity, Boxing, Road Biking, Dragon Boat, Austere Fitness, Rollerblading, Spartan Race WOD, and Swimming.
- Exercises that didn’t make the Fat Burning cut for Average Heart Rate: Bouldering, Rowing, P90X Shoulders/Arms, Apartment Moving, TRX Suspension Training, Outrigger Canoeing, Hiking 1/2/3, Yoga, Resistance Bands, Fitness Park.
- Anaerobic Zone: Broomball was the only exercise that brought me to an anaerobic level of working out, who knew? I knew I was working really hard and super out of breath but I had no idea I was playing at such a high intensity level. Thank you Social Boston Sports for introducing me to Broomball (league champs 2 years in a row!)
- Anaerobic Threshold Zone: Pickup Soccer and my 3rd Ragnar leg. Both of these workout were done with friends, were competitive with other people, and were among the most fun I had while exercising.
- Aerobic Zone: Harvard Stadium Run, Plyometrics, Ragnar 1/2, Boxing, Spartan Race WOD, Austere Fitness, and Road Biking.
- Fat Burning Zone: Rowing, Bouldering, Lead Climbing, P90X Shoulders/Arms, Apartment Moving, Insanity, Dragon Boat Racing, Outrigger Canoe Paddling, Hiking 1/2/3, Power Yoga, Rollerblading, Swimming, and the Fitness Park.
- Pickup Broomball in Somerville (thanks to Michelle for enlightening me to glory that is pickup broomball)
- Harvard Stadium Run (thanks to Dan for always being willing to crush it)
- Rowing in the Gym (thanks to no one because erging sucks)
- Bouldering Pyramid Workout at Metrorock (boulder sesh with Tony)
- Pickup Soccer at Tufts University (thanks Dan, Lauren, and Katie for inviting me)
- Lead Rock Climbing at Farley Ledge (thanks to Tom)
- P90X Shoulders, Biceps, and Triceps
- 12 Minute Tabata Abdominal Intervals (thanks Julia for sending this my way, sorry we couldn’t get any spinning classes in)
- P90X Plyometrics in my Living Room (sorry neighbors below me)
- Moving Apartments as a Workout (you’re welcome Sarah :)
- Ragnar Relay Race Cape Cod (thanks Katie for organizing it and thanks team for being awesome, 6th place out of over 300 teams!)
- Active Recovery Day
- Boxing at the Ring Boxing Club (thanks Dan and JLo for joining me)
- TRX Suspension Training (thanks Shane for providing the gear and walking me through a workout)
- Insanity – Core Cardio and Balance (thanks Karen for letting me borrow the DVDs)
- Road Biking
- Dragon Boat Racing (thanks Julia for sending this my way, thanks Dave the team’s coach for letting me try it out)
- Outrigger Canoe Paddling on Oahu (thanks to Sarah and the Lanikai Canoe Club)
- Hiking the Kalalau Trail in Kauai (thanks to Sarah and her expert logistics)
- Power Yoga on Kalalau Beach in Kauai Featured as the Adventure Photo of the Day on LetsbeWild.com
- Fitness in Austere Environments (Kauai) (thanks Trevor for being a berzerk viking and designing these workouts)
- Rollerblading on the Charles River Bike Path
- Swimming at Tufts University (thanks Ashley)
- Resistance Bands (thanks Graham)
- Elliptical – didn’t even write about it b/c it was so lame, recap: awkward/unnatural motion and couldn’t raise my heart rate higher than 140 no matter how high the resistance and how hard I pushed.
- Spartan Race Workout of the Day (WOD) (thanks Andy and Joe from Peak and Spartan Races)
- Fitness Park Workout (thanks Boston)