Megan May, professional figure competitor, and head trainer at New York’s Reebok Crossfit 5th Avenue, knows all about getting springtime fit in preparation for becoming summertime fine. Here, May spends a little time with EBONY.com sharing ways to help you successfully transition into the new season, and some of her favorite tips for making that as painless as possible.
EBONY: How does your training shift in preparation for the new season? Do you change your activities? Do you change the training gear you use or how you eat?
Megan May: Because I’m training to compete in the Crossfit Games again this year, spring is when our big competitive season starts. We really focus on our training for Crossfit now, so my training shifts to five days a week, with two days where I rest. On my recovery days and, really, any chance that I can take to get outside and run or soak up the sunshine, do my workouts outside, I’m all over it.
Basically, when it’s warm out, I try to get outside as much as possible. Crossfit, yoga, outdoor tracks, and hiking using different kinds of workouts to give my body a bit of rest from the normal stuff I do.
EBONY: Wow, that’s awesome. And what kinds of tools do you encourage people to use while they’re working to get fit?
MM: Well, for starters, you’ve gotta have the right footwear. My favorite shoe for Crossfit is gonna be the Crossfit Nanos by Reebok. They look pretty much like a regular sneaker, and the sole just gives you stability while you’re doing something like lifting weights for cross fit. It’s also nice and flexible for running and jumping and burpees, which are everyone’s favorite.
EBONY: Uh, yeah… burpees. [laughter]
MM: See? Everyone likes burpees! When I start getting outside running, I was just able to get my hands on the Reebok new ZQuick shoe, and these are my new favorite shoe - they’re super comfortable, super flexible, and it’s perfect for having to turn quick and dodge around people, and run and jump over things, jump off curbs. They’re comfortable and light - I don’t feel like I’m wearing a big bulky shoe. Besides, that - good music!
EBONY: I see! So, as far as your favorite activities for getting fit, it’s safe to say Crossfit, running, and yoga? [laughter]
MM: Well, yoga would definitely not be my favorite activity, but I have to do it because I need it for my workouts. I love lifting weights. I started out running when I was in college because I could do it anywhere. I can do it in a short amount of time. But when I got into lifting weights, I saw my body transform and I haven’t looked back since. But when you train that hard, you have to look at your mobility and your flexibility, so we’ve added the yoga to our cross fit gym here at Reebok Crossfit 5th Ave. And, with Crossfit, it’s always something different. You don’t get bored, because your body’s always doing something new. You’re constantly changing your routine up. That’s why it’s my favorite. Every time you go in there, it’s a different workout.
EBONY: In regards to training at home, for the person who wants to get into working out but isn’t quite ready or able to invest the major money, what kinds of tips or exercises would you recommend for them?
MM: So, I’d definitely say to start with the basics. Push-ups, squats, dips, any movements where you’re using your body weight to challenge yourself, while also using all of your major muscle groups. A lot of women, I find, come to Crossfit and are weaker in their upper body, so they come in and say, “I can’t do a push-up, I can’t do a pull up,” and that’s something I feel like, as women, we need to really work to change. If you hit those moves, get in a good amount of reps, and use good form! If you’re doing that push up, make sure you’re getting all the way down to the ground.
And, now that the weather’s nice, grab a friend! Go jog! Go jog to the park, say that once you get to the park, you’ll do some bench jumps and then let’s do some push-ups against the bench. Make it fun! You may not be able to get to a gym, so grab a friend, it’s gonna keep you more accountable and you’re not gonna cancel those workout plans.
EBONY: My last question for you, Megan, is what do you think is the most challenging part of getting fit, and what tips do you have to help people overcome that?
MM: I would say… just starting a workout program. Getting in there, starting something A) that is fun and B) that doesn’t discourage you. I mean, you want to get into something that challenges you so that you can see changes in your body, but that can’t happen if you give up after the first week. Doing workouts in groups or with a friend helps - when you’re doing it in a community or with friends, you have a group that can keep you accountable. They’ll also be there in the beginning when you’re like, “My body hurts so bad I can barely walk up the stairs.” They can tell you, “You know what, you’ll get past it! Just stick with it! It’s gonna get easier!” Just getting past that initial step is the hardest part, but having a community to help keep you going will make a huge difference.
Erika Nicole Kendall is the writer behind the award-winning blog, A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss. Ask her your health and fitness-related questions on twitter at @bgg2wl.