I don’t know what it is. I’m addicted to streaks. Two years ago, I took on the Herculean — or what some might call completely unnecessary — challenge of refraining from alcohol for 365 straight days. Upon the completion of that sobering (sorry) feat, I decided it was time to turn my attention to physical fitness. Could I workout every day for a year — or was that just ridiculous, and again, completely unnecessary?
It was almost certainly both but I decided to find out anyway. As a 3-year owner of “the best cardio machine on the planet” aka the Peloton bike, I knew that the chic “cruiser de soccer moms” would form at least part of my fitness plan, but just how much?
I quickly realized that a Peloton ride every day for a full year was not in the cards. Not only would it be logistically impossible given the inevitable days I’d spend away from home during the year (this is pre-COVID, of course) but physically, the stress that it would put on my body would likely do more harm than good.
Peloton digital to the rescue
So I needed another solution. And at the very real risk of this article veering off course into a full-on ad for Peloton, I found that solution in the Peloton digital “off-the-bike” workouts. The company had been quietly building up a library of content that users like me could watch on-demand to supplement their cycling workouts. This included everything from yoga to meditation to stretching; but importantly, for me, it also included a fairly deep catalog of strength workouts segmented by length and workout type.
The content is accessible via the Peloton app which I loaded to my phone and iPad. All of the sudden, the idea of working out every day, and more specifically, doing a Peloton workout every day, seemed much more achievable.
So I made a plan. And it was simple. Very simple. Get myself to the gym every day. In my case, this meant getting to the room in my basement that I had recently converted to a home gym. Again, the goal was simple. Just get there.
Once there, I would do one Peloton workout. But let me define workout. And this is kind of important. I decided that for it to “count,” it had to be either a Strength, Cycling or Running workout. Sounds hard, right? Well, it can be if you’re hammering away at 45-min rides and burning 800 calories at a clip, or doing multiple 30-min “crush your core” workouts, but my approach was not that aggressive. Any length workout counted, including (very importantly, as they saved my streak countless times) five-minute workouts.
“But five minutes is barely a workout,” you might think. Well, that’s kind of true. But remember, to do something every single day for a year, you need to make it achievable or you won’t even get through the first month.
I got into a groove pretty quickly once I put this plan into action. A typical week looked something like this:
Sunday — 30-min Ride
Monday — 10-min Core
Tuesday — 10-min Arms toning
Wednesday — 20-min Ride
Thursday — 5-min Core
Friday — 20-min Full Body Strength
Saturday — 20-min Legs & Glutes
But every week didn’t look like that. There were times when I was sick, or traveling, or just insanely busy at work when I realistically couldn’t do more than a 5-min workout. In fact, there were more days than I’d care to admit when all I could muster was five minutes. But I was okay with that. My mantra became “Keep the Streak.” I just wanted to keep that streak for a full year and I was laser-focused on it.
And so it went, for 365 days. And then for 400, and 450 and finally, 483.
There were many near misses along the way. There was the night (or maybe nights…) when I was out with friends for drinks and got back at 10 or 11 pm and then forced myself down to the gym for five minutes of arms toning. There were the trips overseas where I barely knew what time zone I was in, but somehow remembered to pull out the iPad in my hotel room to get a quick Bodyweight workout in. And of course, there were the times when I was sick and tired and felt like doing anything else on the planet other than a workout. But I can now tell you from experience that someone with flu-like symptoms can, in fact, still manage a 5-min arms workout.
And then, there was the one that finally got me. The kid. Yes, my youngest son was born exactly one week ago today. And while a reasonable person might think it would be very appropriate to end the streak given the circumstances, I instead found myself doing a 5-min Bodyweight workout in the actual delivery room (in fairness, it was hours after the actual delivery — that makes it more sane, right?). “Why should the arrival of a new human break the streak, anyhow?” I may or may not have thought.
But then the sleep deprivation set in. (Cue aggressive eye rolls from my wife). And after a week of being “out of sorts,” it finally happened. I woke up this morning and thought “Oh no, I didn’t workout yesterday.” A feeling of disappointment flooded over me. I had simply forgotten.
I had been sitting up late the prior evening with my sleeping newborn son in my arms and, well, Peloton wasn’t the first thing on my mind. If I have a regret, it’s only that as of today, I can no longer say the most annoying statement on earth: “I haven’t missed a day of Peloton workouts since 2018.”
And so it ends. Am I completely ripped and in the most unbelievable shape of any 40+-year-old man ever? Nope. But the streak kept me disciplined, motivated, and focused. And I do think I’m stronger (physically and mentally) because of it. Plus, you know, it’s just kind of a thing to do. Maybe even one small element of structure in a world that, especially now, is more chaotic than…. no, strike that, just a thing to do.
The “streak ender” distracting the author on day 484.
So I took 2 minutes this morning to wallow in my sorrow of a forgotten workout and a broken streak. Then I remembered, “Hey, I’m over 40 and have a newborn son. I need to keep myself in shape!” So I did the logical thing. I jumped on a 30-min Peloton ride. And it was great. Day #1 of the new streak is in the books. Let’s see if I can get to 484 this time.
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