We're constantly test-driving things here at Byrdie HQ, whether it's the world's oddest beauty "sponge," an array of non-drying matte lipsticks, or a Korean powder hack that promises an airbrushed-looking complexion. But wellness-geared trials are a whole different breed, as unlike makeup or hair products, we can't wash it off at the end of the day—testing out fitness regimens, buzzy diets, and the effects of meditation requires a bit more of a lifestyle overhaul.
Many of these experiments prove downright unsustainable (ahem, Bella Hadid's detox plan). Some of them are great in retrospect, but aren't necessarily tailored to our personal agenda for the long haul. But every so often, we find a gem that sticks well beyond a story's publish date. Below, you'll find some of the most valuable fitness tips we've picked up in the past year.
Variety, variety, variety.
"I know that 'vary your workouts' is probably the most tired, generic workout tip there is, but I'm not talking about switching it up from yoga to spinning (though that's good, too). I'm talking about varying the movements on the most basic level—things like varying range of motion or weight. Doing tiny, micro-movements works your muscles in a different way than going something at full-range. Do shorter sets with heavier weights one day and longer sets with lighter weights another day. Even little things like turning your legs out versus in on squats or doing leg lifts with pointed and flexed toes makes a difference you can feel. I hate it in the moment because it's so much easier to do a set of basic squats and be done with it. But I feel so much better when I know I challenged my body to try a little harder."
Start with just one day a week.
"I don't work out nearly as often as I should, so I've taken up yoga on Tuesday evenings. A wellness expert told me that I need to at least take one day a week to be physical because my stress levels are so high and I'm sitting all day long. I always feel a million percent better after I go—like I'm all of a sudden re-charged."
Do what you love.
"Another good tip I've picked up: The best way to get exercise is to just do something you love instead of forcing yourself to go to a 7am bootcamp or begrudgingly lift weights when you actually can't stand doing so. That's why I'll swim or go to a fun class at my gym that I actually look forward to so working out isn't so much of a task."
"I walk everywhere. Which, yes, I understand doesn't exactly sound like a workout tip. But think about it: I walk from lunch, dinner, and to meet my friends. Sometimes, that spans miles. Yes, it takes a long time—but I'll have worked off a meal by the time I get home and had some much need alone time in the process. Not only does it add very little training stress to the body, but walking also results in a higher ratio of fat burn."
Prioritize the mind, and the body will follow.
"After many years of false starts, I've finally fallen into a consistent rhythm of staying active, and that's definitely due to a huge attitude adjustment. I spent such a huge part of my life working out because I had to, with the belief that if I did it for long enough, I would 'enjoy' it by way of habit. The downside of said strategy was that I never stuck with anything long enough for it to actually become habit.
"But this year, I decided to stop wasting my time on stuff that didn't genuinely make me happy, and that includes forcing myself to go the gym. I started practicing forest bathing, which is essentially walking outside as a form of meditation. And since my walking route of choice is among the steep hiking trails of Griffith Park, I'm suddenly enjoying cardio for the first time in my life. The fact that I've also gotten in great shape is just a side effect—and I think that in itself is the point."
Don't underestimate good form.
"On the more practical side of the spectrum, learning proper form for simple exercises like squats and push-ups has been a complete game-changer. It seriously has made all the difference in noticing better strength, muscle tone, and even posture. I apply that lesson in every workout, too: In yoga, I now know to listen and make those tiny tweaks that the instructor calls out—those are usually the moments when I suddenly notice muscles I didn't know I had. Even if you think you have your push-up form down pat, it's definitely worth consulting a trainer or fitness pro so they can advise on any adjustments."
Make every workout an epic experience.
"My boyfriend is a marathon runner and owes a lot of his love and commitment to running by making it about the whole experience, not just the exercise itself. He has his neighborhood he loves running though, his playlist of epic movie soundtracks, his sleek running shoes. I think approaching fitness in this holistic, experiential way is so smart and effective in keeping you on a routine. When working out is just a chore you have to do, it's harder to stick to. But when you can get into the whole vibe and experience of it, whether that's hiking or cycling or yoga (and all the trappings that come with it), then fitness becomes a natural part of your life."