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Summer Games: Workouts inspired by gold-medal athletes

Jessica Padykula is a freelance writer and editor in Toronto, Canada covering a wide range of  topics for several online lifestyle publications. She is a regular contributor for SheKnows, covering travel, style, relationships, health and...

Gold-medal fitness

The biggest sporting event of the summer is around the corner, and in honor of the nail-biting excitement, awe-inspiring feats of athleticism and wow-worthy strength, we thought we’d let the Summer Games offer some workout inspiration.
Woman running with partner

Read on for some fun ways to channel the spirit of the games next time you lace up your gym shoes.

Get competitive

The Summer Games are all about competition and world-class athletes vying to take home the top spot in their event. Channel some of the adrenaline rush that comes from a little healthy competition and inject that into your next workout. The best way to do this is to gather some fitness-minded friends and take on some activities that allow you to compete. Have races, see who can do the most push-ups, sit-ups or pull-ups at the park, or do time trials as you sprint around a track (time each other individually). The added excitement and higher-than-normal stakes will help you work harder and make your usual sweat-session that much more intense. No gym required.

Try a new sport

One of the best things about watching (OK, getting obsessed with) the Summer Games is the opportunity to check out tons of sports you don’t normally get to watch (we’re looking at you, decathlon). Embrace your sporty side and allow the seemingly never-ending events to inspire your own foray into a totally new activity. Join a water polo team, try out a synchronized swimming class, practice the long jump in your backyard with the kids or rent a kayak or canoe the next time you go to the cottage or the beach. The point is to keep fitness at the forefront and avoid boredom by skipping over what you know and trying something fresh.

Implement rewards

There may not be a gold medal at the end of your next run or cardio class, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reward yourself for a job well done. Set a goal -- be it running one extra mile, going to a new fitness class you’ve been meaning to try (but felt was a little intimidating) or doing something good for your health that you’ve been putting off (a checkup, eating more fruits and vegetables). Once you’ve accomplished your goal, reward yourself with a gold medal of your own. This can be anything from a manicure at your favorite spa, buying yourself flowers or taking yourself (and a friend or your hubby) out for a healthy dinner.

Challenge yourself

To really embrace the spirit of the Summer Games you need to challenge yourself. The athletes competing didn’t get where they are by doing the same workout day-in and day-out -- they’re continually striving to improve. Take stock of your current workout and shake things up. This can be as simple as adding a new toning exercise, adding a few more reps to anything that’s starting to feel too easy or talking to a trainer at your gym for suggestions on what else you can do to challenge your body. The more you keep things interesting, the more you’ll see faster results.

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