By Lauren Linhard –       Photos by Clare Becker

Being healthy starts with being prepared. For 26-year-old Maddie Hawkins that means always having her yellow backpack filled with snacks, water and practical workout gear in the back of her truck.

As she shoulders her supplies to the local running track, she nibbles on a clementine to get her blood sugar up after spending the morning coaching little league lacrosse in the rain.

“For me, if I don’t have it I don’t want to workout,” Hawkins said of her yellow bag. “If I don’t have my shorts, my sports bra, my snacks – It’s not a surprise – I don’t want to do it. Just like when people go home to change for the gym and talk themselves out of going.”

“A little informal exercise routine does miracles for the human biological systems, bringing balance to your head and your heart.”

Hawkins studied exercise science in college before starting a career in wellness and sports medicine. After high school, her goal was to find a job where she could help people while staying active.

“I want to enable people to try things they haven’t before,” Hawkins said. “Whether that is working with somebody who has MS and is disabled, or somebody who has a dream of playing professional soccer. I want to be involved.”

The biggest thing that holds people back from achieving their goals, Hawkins said, is thinking “I can’t” instead of “I can.” It’s important to take time everyday to believe in yourself – and that’s what working out is for, she added.

All you need to get started is a comfortable workout spot, resistance band, speed rope, kettlebell and weighted ball – all of which Hawkins happen to have in the back of her truck. Total cost: $33. Less than a monthly gym membership.

Adjust your workouts accordingly if you have an existing injury or are recovering from one. Meet with a trainer like Maddie to design the optimum workout for your body.

“I try to get people to do anything better than what they did yesterday. That’s a big step in the right direction,” Hawkins said. “You break yourself down over stuff you shouldn’t, and I think that’s where the negative body image comes from.”

It’s about getting out there and giving yourself a shot, Hawkins said. Think of a workout as your private 30 minutes to prove to yourself what you are capable of, she added.

Start with a five to 10 minute warm up –

100 Jump ropes to elevate heart rate and kick up the circulatory system
Jog 20 yards forward  with high knees on the return
Jog 20 yards forward with butt kicks on the return
Walking lunges  for 20 yards with a jog back to the start line
100 Jump ropes
Briefly stretch major muscle groups like the hamstring, calf, quadriceps, low back, hips and shoulders

“Patients range in ages and aliments, all with a common goal of improving their life in a way that brings them health and happiness.”

Use your warm up to mentally prepare. If your mind is still on the last email you sent at work, you’re not focusing, Hawkins said. Then kick it into high gear.

The key to a beneficial and efficient workout is alternating between strength-based exercises and cardio to keep your heart rate up. So do some kettlebell swings and then jump rope; do lunges across the space and then sprint the same route; do crunches with the weighted ball and then run some steps.

Do what makes you feel confident and strong.

“People try too hard to lose weight and be skinny rather than be healthy and strong,” Hawkins said. “We all have to take care of ourselves. Why wouldn’t you want to invest in yourself?”