The 7-min February Challenge

My sister convinced me to do this one.  It’s 7 min, she said.  There’s an app for it that you can download to your iPad, she said.

Of course, I actually looked up the 7 min workout and it isn’t really 7 min– you’re supposed to do 3 or 4 repetitions of it, which brings you to 21 or 28 min, really (not counting resting).

But 7 min of intense exercise is 7 min more than I am currently doing, and I’m fairly sure it will be challenging enough for me that I’ll be getting some health benefit, at least initially.  I am willing to bet it will push me beyond my normal endurance.  We’ll see.  (You’ll see.)

So what is this 7 min workout?  It’s this thing that the NYTimes popularized in this article.  You do a whole bunch of stuff very intensely for a short amount of time.  It is unpleasant, but relatively brief.   You can download the app here.  (Yes, I know it has plenty of detractors with valid reasons for detracting.  And no, I won’t push myself beyond mildly unpleasant because no, I don’t want to hurt myself.  Also I will allow myself a day off each week if I think I need to heal.)

Why am I doing it?  Because it’s winter and I’m a lump because the pool is closed and it’s cold outside.  This seems like as good a challenge as any.  And I can take 7 min out of my day (most likely after work) to torture myself for 28 days straight.  We’ll see if that leads to anything else in the future.

For those who haven’t been following us forever, why February?  Because February is the best month for challenges!  January may have that post-holiday guilt and new year optimism, but February has the bigger benefit of being shorter.

Note from #2:  My partner did the 7-minute circuit one time and it’s a doozy of hellish awfulness.  Feel free to modify to your own ability level!  Definitely start with only one 7-minute cycle.  I can’t even make it through one of them.  I am a wuss.  I am ok with that.  But 7 minutes is not very long to put up with things for a long-term gain! [EDIT: he says he actually did it 5 times before I saw him in his state of exhaustion.  So it’s not *that* bad.]

Anyone else doing February challenges?

40 Responses to “The 7-min February Challenge”

  1. Mrs PoP Says:

    I tend to operate on fiscal calendars, so am ~1/3 of the way through my “Q1 no dairy” challenge to myself. I don’t think I’ve cut 100% of dairy since I bet it’s still in some prepared foods (breads, etc), but I cut A LOT of dairy out of my diet and so far it’s going well!

    • Leah Says:

      FYI if you plan to go back to eating dairy — you might have to ease yourself in, and be prepared to use lactaid as needed. I went on a “no dairy” diet in high school due to stomach issues (turns out they were related to stress and not to milk), and it took me years to build back up and be able to have milk. I still can’t have as much as I used to have (I was a milk hound), but half a milkshake doesn’t ruin me anymore.

      • Mrs PoP Says:

        Yeah, that’s one of the reasons I haven’t been stressing about getting to 100% non-dairy, just back to what I was in high school/college which was mostly eat cheese if it was a topping, but not much otherwise and no other “wholly dairy” products.
        The last few years dairy had become far too large a part of my calorie consumption and it seems a primary cause of my adult acne.

  2. Holly@ClubThrifty Says:

    No challenges at the moment! I have been exercising some but it isn’t part of a bigger plan. 7 mins sounds doable to me- I hate exercise!

  3. taylorqlee Says:

    Continuing along my challenge to spend less on food. Which, technically was a New Years resolution, but I did so poorly in January might as well call it February challenge?

  4. kellenaccountantbyday Says:

    I pulled a muscle trying the 7 min workout, and it’s not like I’m completely out of shape. it doesn’t allow for enough warm up time. I found a good 10-min kettlebell work out video (search Chichi kettlebell workout beginner on youtube if you’re interested), that includes warm up and didn’t cause muscle strain. I did do it twice since I wasn’t that tired after the first time.

  5. Debbie M Says:

    I am also planning to get into some strength training in February. I do like this workout, though I have changed it up a bit to even it out between arms/shoulders, legs/hips, and core. I also like that it’s so popular that people are writing about it and so I get to learn more. Like the good alternative to the chair tricep dips. Yea!

    I wouldn’t exactly call it too intense. But then again, I can’t exactly do it. For example, I have to do modified pushups rather than full push ups. And for some of the exercises I have to stop and pant during part of the 30 seconds. And it generally takes more than 10 seconds for me to move to the next station, so my breaks are too long and the full workout takes me longer than 7 minutes. However, I do pant and use up some muscles, so I like it.

    I wouldn’t do it every day. You’re always supposed to take a one-day break before re-working the same muscles like this. So I recommend doing it every other day or, if you prefer the same days of the week each week, three times a week. (But then I’m older than y’all, so the advice on the one-day break is more likely to be true for me. I certainly enjoy a cool-down period after aerobic activity a lot more than I did in my youth when I would just throw myself on the grass flat on my back after a run.)

    You could walk around the neighborhood quickly for seven minutes on the other days. I’ve tried just walking around my house–it’s kind of annoying. But some kind of housework that you don’t do as often as you like could work. Seven minutes of vacuuming comes to mind.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I used to be able to do push-ups no problem, but recently I wasn’t. So we’ll see what ends up happening. And we’ll see if I can handle every day. Since I’m not doing a full 3 circuits, maybe it will be ok. I will probably take Wednesday off because I just get home exhausted. The weather outside tends to be not so great, otherwise we’d just be walking. Anything involving dust is a no-go with me.

  6. Leah Says:

    I don’t know if February is the month for me, as I’m still coaching after school, which takes lots of time. But spring is usually when I start exercise regimens. I’m planning to start jogging and/or swimming regularly come March, I think. I haven’t done much of anything since having my baby, but I think she’ll be old enough to either enjoy sitting in the stroller while I jog (nice days) or stay home with dad.

  7. What Now? Says:

    Ooh, I like the idea of a February challenge! (Let’s hear it for the shortest month.) In the last three weeks I’ve been trying to go to the gym in the mornings before school, recognizing the fact that when I say I’ll work out after school, I’m just lying to myself. But for various reasons — snow, a malfunctioning lock at the gym, etc. — it’s been sporadic. So February can be the month in which I actually make this happen. Thanks for the motivation!

  8. Katherine Says:

    I might try the February idea. My thing to do every day would be knee PT exercises, although it would probably be good for me to do more core and upper body, too. I was doing knee PT every day for about a year and feeling pretty good, but the last year or so I’ve almost completely stopped and I’m having pain again …

  9. Thisbe Says:

    I do the 7 minute thing. I think it is good for what it is – i.e., short, and relatively intense. I clicked the links about what’s wrong with it, and all of that is probably true, it probably would be better for people to improve their fitness by walking. But the change that people will make is better than the change they won’t make.

    Anyways I like the seven minutes especially on days when I work, because I don’t tend to have a lot of time, but it is good for me to do a little strength training even on those days because my life is so much better when I can lift a 60 pound anesthetized dog by myself instead of needing help. I think it is a totally useful thing to do. But I can’t really do chair dips either.

    FWIW, my friend who plays roller derby talked me into trying out AquaFit a few months ago and it is amazing. It is seriously the best combination of great workout and really fun and not stressful that I have found. When I go, it’s usually me (33 today, professional), one young lady who I think is about 20 and is a hairdresser with a young baby, and a bunch of retired ladies. Everyone can adapt the workout to their own intensity; I am pretty sore after I do it, but the elderly German lady with heart problems gets to move around as much as she can tolerate and feel better. Highly recommended – the young lady said that after she’d been doing it for a while she tried going to some sort of dry aerobics class or something and hated it, nobody was friendly and the workout was too fast and she felt intimidated. But AquaFit is never intimidating.

    • becca Says:

      AquaFit is never intimidating because those amazing retired ladies are doing a huge public service by making it look easy.
      In fairness, it is the kind of workout that can be adapted to many different levels, but I distinctly remember taking my first AquaFit class was part of my WSI certification… I was young, and healthy, and a former competitive swimmer… and it *kicked my butt* so much. It is HardCore. Maybe as much as roller derby.

      • Thisbe Says:

        Yeah! You can make it as hard core as you want it to be, OR you can take it slow and easier to build strength. I love how the water supports the ways I don’t have great muscle development yet and lets me build up safely. And with the amazing company of older women.

    • Leah Says:

      Oh, man, I love water aerobics classes. My local pool also has water zumba, and I keep meaning to go try it out. I agree that the retired ladies there are awesome motivators — if they can do it, I can! Also, we’re all under water, so people can’t super duper see how fast/slow I’m going.

  10. Ana Says:

    I’m intrigued by the 7 minute workout, but not sure doing it every day would be good for my knees/elbows. and ooh the side plank seems torturous. I definitely agree that February is the best month for any kind of challenging challenge. 3 less days is 3 less days.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I am a bit worried about my knees, but figure if something starts hurting I can stop it! I have no idea what to expect and couldn’t really find any chronicles online other than people who were like, “this was pitifully easy” or “I couldn’t finish one set”. So I’ll add my own!

      • Katherine Says:

        You can reduce the strain on your knees by paying attention to good form. On the squats, be careful that your knees are tracking straight over your feet and not in towards each other, and don’t let your knees go too far forward. Think about sinking your weight back as if you were sitting in a chair and make sure you can see your toes, even if it means not squatting as deeply as you otherwise would. A mirror is helpful!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Yeah, don’t get your knee past your toes. Planking can be hard as hell but I think you will just have muscle pain from that one. Muscle pain == working out. Joint pain == stop!

  11. Linda Says:

    I’m continuing my home furnishing challenge (if you want to call it that) where I cap my spending on buying furniture and stuff each month. It also challenges my thinking about whether I can/should get rid of more stuff. The answer appears to be Yes.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We’re still trying to figure out if we want to haul stuff with us to Paradise or just buy super cheap stuff at Ikea and on Craigslist. Man, if only there were more furnished places from people going on sabbatical themselves.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        maybe that sabbatical house trade site will pick up in a couple months?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        the last one that popped up, we emailed and she was all, yeah, there’s a wait list for next academic year at this point and we’re not even sure we’ll be offering it for that amount of time! (Apparently they want to spend their vacations in paradise too.)

  12. Tragic Sandwich Says:

    I joined the gym and met with a personal trainer to get started. I will see her once a month, because I can barely afford that–but I’m going to the gym twice a week. I may not be working out as hard as everyone there, but twice a week is twice a week more than I’ve been doing. A few people have said, “Good for you,” and my instinctive response has been, “I’m just trying to stay alive.”

  13. Revanche Says:

    Nothing for February, I think I’m saving it for March.

  14. First Gen American Says:

    So much of this is about knowing yourself. I just also started exercising again. It is amazing how much my body has changed (in a bad way). At least it’s reversible and I know the drill but man I am so much weaker than I thought which is odd because parts of me still look very muscular.

    We will see if social + <1 mile away + sauna is the winning combo. By social I mean a class with other people. When you work from home a lot, being around people becomes a side benefit of going to a class. It also holds me more accountable to get there by a certain time, whereas if there is no class, you can delay delay delay intil the end of the day and then not go at all.

    It took me a long time to join this place as it's expensive but I got a spa gift for Xmas and I get a health care reimbursement for some of the cost so essentially I swapped a spa day for a 3 month membership instead. If I stick to it, I'll join for a year which is cheaper. The nearest "cheap" gym is about 20 minutes away so i know joining would just be a waste and even when it was closer it was hard to go because no fitness classes.

    +1 for the water classes and being inspired by old ladies.

      • First Gen American Says:

        I hadn’t factored in age as the reason for my wimpyness nut the comic is funny. We have all these old rerred geezers here who wokr out like 4 hours a day and they are way fitter than me. For example, one guy who I used to work with is almost 70 I think. we went on a 2.5 hour mountain bike ride and when we were done he was like, yeah, I am gonna ride for a few more hours. Cya and off he went…so I really really can’t use my age as an excuse in this neck of the woods. We have some crazy fit people here that’ll call bs if you try to use the age card.

        I do very distinctly remember however when it used to take me like a week to lose 5 pounds and now it takes months.

  15. February is challenge month: I gotta get some @$!& written | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] year I was most worried about my sedentary life style. (Apparently that was also the focus in the previous year.)  This year I decided not to make a challenge out of that, but I’ve […]

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