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Remix in Six: A fitness fix for when summer schedules go awry

By Leslie Barker

The best part about summer? Schedules go by the wayside!

With that first no-school day, first nap in the hammock, first blast of humid heat, first sound of the ice cream truck and first smell of backyard hot dogs, who among us doesn’t get that “lazy, hazy crazy, days of summer” song stuck in our sweaty heads?

And the worst part about summer? Schedules, alas, go by the wayside.

While a little break in routine can be good, too big of a break – especially one that includes skipping a lot of workouts – isn’t.

“If you’ve been working out for the first five months of the year and then take off three, it will be harder to keep up those gains in strength and endurance you made,” says Vinny Emanuele, manager of workout design and experience with Orangetheory Fitness. “When you restart your exercise routine, it’s almost like starting all over again.”

No need to fret he and his Orangetheory team have come up with a summer challenge to keep you active, interested and engaged. It’s called Remix in Six, and requires members to attend 15 classes in six weeks. Emanuele and his colleagues chose that number carefully: It offers plenty of physical activity time to meet the American Heart Association’s 150-minute weekly recommendation, but not so much as to interfere with your summer non-schedule schedule.

Additionally, throughout the six weeks, each studio will put up smaller Remix in Six challenges.

“We know that in summer, people’s schedules change, which makes it hard to stick with a routine,” he says. “These mini challenges are designed to help members accomplish small tasks that keep fitness and wellness top of mind.”

One such challenge might be tracking the distance you cover on the treadmill during class. Or wearing an OTBeat heart rate monitor outside the studio for a leisurely walk or for an activity like gardening. Or posting a social media picture of yourself and a buddy in matching workout gear.

Two features of Remix In Six make it especially enticing:

It’s free (and you could win a prize for completing it!)

Additionally, this challenge isn’t geared toward losing weight or reducing body fat (which, of course, could happen anyway). Instead, the goal is to make behavior changes: to commit to something on a regular basis that will improve your health and give you, in Orangetheory-speak, More Life.

“There’s a lot to be said for monitoring your behaviors rather than monitoring things like pounds on a scale,” says neuroscientist Dr. Shannon Odell, a member of Orangetheory’s medical advisory board. “Research suggests you’re more likely to attain your goals if you monitor your progress. What I really like about this challenge is that rather than the goal being to lose something, it’s positively focused on adding or maintaining your exercise behaviors: I’m going to complete 15 workouts.

What makes getting our workouts in difficult this time of year may be the lack of normal cues in our routines, she says. Say, for instance, you go to an Orangetheory class after work. It has become automatic and ingrained into your schedule. But maybe during the summer, you’re taking a different route home to pick up the kids from day camp.

“When our routines are disrupted,” she says, “we have to make conscious decisions throughout the day rather than just following habits. There is a constant balancing act going on in the brain, so it’s easy for exercise to fall to the wayside. Putting a plan in place can make it easier to achieve our goals.

We need to set not only smart goals, but SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound – goals, she says. “Remix in Six is a really great example of checking all the boxes.”

Specific: You want to get 15 workouts completed in 6 weeks.

Measurable: At the end of each workout, write down that you’ve done it, Dr. Odell says. “Research shows self-monitoring is really important in helping us achieve our goals. It’s about monitoring our behavior – did we go to class?

Attainable: Plan ahead; believe in your heart it’s doable.

Realistic: If there’s no way you can get three workouts in this week, do two.

Timebound: You have a deadline to meet – 15 classes within six weeks.

Completing the Remix in Six challenge is a huge accomplishment in itself. But in doing so, you’ll also have learned the importance of consistency and rewards of behavior modification. To help you make the absolute most of those six weeks, Dr. Odell and Emanuele offer these tips:

Find a workout buddy. “If you exercise in a group or with a partner, research suggests that you’re more likely to stick with that exercise routine,” Dr. Odell says. Adds Emanuele, “having an accountability partner, like a workout buddy or your favorite OTF coach, may be the difference between you showing up to class and hitting the snooze button.”

Remove barriers to your goals. Keep workout clothes in your car, for instance, Dr. Odell suggests. That way, if you realize you have unexpected time for class, you don’t need to rush home to try to find a clean tank top. “Little changes to your environment that reduce barriers can be really helpful,” she says.

Set small goals. They’re the stepping stones to larger ones, Emanuele says. “If you hit that small goal, it may increase your self-efficacy, or confidence to keep moving forward, and you’ll be more likely to hit another goal.”

Frame goals carefully. “You want goals to be positively focused, based on behaviors, which are things you can control,” Odell says. “The more we do that, the more likely we are to build confidence: I can do 15 workouts in six weeks.”

Practice habit stacking. That means incorporating a behavior with something that’s already a habit, Dr. Odell says. For Remix in Six, you might combine the habit of driving a certain route home with stopping at the Orangetheory studio you pass and taking a class – even if you’ve never been there. Or combining the habit of going to class with a new behavior such as journaling or meditating for 10 minutes before you drive home.

Yes, Remix in Six may sound tough, and it is. But ramifications of completing it extend far beyond its six weeks, Emanuel says. You’ll likely sleep better. You may notice more energy, which leads to More Life outside the studio – maybe going the extra mile on a vacation hike, or telling the kids “Sure!” when they want to stay at the neighborhood pool longer.

In addition, he says, “Once you realize what you’re actually capable of doing, you think about things you didn’t think you could do, and the possibilities of what you’re capable of achieving become almost limitless. You can do more than you think and have more time than you realize.”