We live in a world filled with barre, soul cycle, cross fit, yoga sculpt, power lifting, and so many more methods of getting out bodies into “shape”. Whatever shape means. We spend hundreds of dollars to belong to state of the art gyms or studios or a pay per class method of basically a different way to sweat.
While changing it up is wonderful and keeps our bodies guessing, we have moved into a mindset where it isn’t about just changing our bodies. For many individuals its about doing the workout that’s currently on trend even if it means working out to just say you did and to reach an unrealistic goal it versus actually enjoying it.
(my sister and I on a family hike with our Aunt and Cousin Krista in Malibu)
I found myself contemplating this sort of fitness revolution and it really made me think- when did working out get so darn complicated? Like did I just miss that or was I not really paying attention.
What happened to walking with a friend to catch up, or going to your local gym and taking a group fitness class? When did that become sub standard?
Don’t get me wrong- some people love their classes/memberships despite the price tag and the trendiness of it because its what motivates them to move and honestly thats all that matters! I too love to go once in a while for a fun change up!
But if you aren’t one of these people and you feel as though a sweaty workout can only be obtained via these new studios, think again.
As a fitness instructor I have taught individuals of all ages, all fitness levels, and all socioeconomic backgrounds. The one thing that stays the same is the physical need to simply move.
I encourage you to think of what sort of exercise you truly enjoy. For me its walking, and group fitness classes or small group classes at my YMCA. I love that the people that teach are real- they don’t just teach for a living and they understand you don’t workout for a living either. Not every move has to be done at the hardest level because some days are different than others. I never feel the need to work my booty off because I need to get my moneys worth. I can simply listen to what my body is telling me. If I need a sweat- heck yes I’m going up a weight level but if I had a rough night the evening prior or a longgg day in lectures I’ll take what my body will give me.
Sometimes what my body gives me is an hour walking hills around the neighborhood with my family and dog- or a scenic hike up for 30 and down for 30 with a few squats and planks at the top. Sometimes its a 15 minute zip around the block in pitch darkness before a 12 hour day at school. In Chicago my favorite thing to do was take a walk to Lake Michigan at Fullerton Beach and do some body weight moves once I got there and then say some prayers of thankfulness that I got to experience that beautiful place.
(If I close my eyes I can hear the waves and breeze in this exact spot in Chi )
I used to compare myself to my roommate who loves to run (shoutout to you jk!). I felt the need to say yes when she invited me to come with her versus later learning to say “I’ll be there later this afternoon- I just need a walk today- enjoy your run!”.
It took me a while to realize its ok to be me. This wasn’t some overnight revelation that happened. I’ve slowly began to listen to my body more and compare it to others less. Instead of forcing myself to make my class at the gym at school because I needed to burn off whatever I ate that day or because I hadn’t worked out in a few days I now accept that my body is not and never will be perfectly toned. I could definitely get there if I wanted to but I have far more important things to spend my mental energy on these days.
So if you yourself feel like you are working out for someone other than yourself to just say you did it- bring it back and think about what you truly love to do and do that more.
I can tell you that for a fact- any exercise- ill say it again- any exercise is good exercise. Your heart rate will still increase, you will probably be in your fat burning zone if you are doing cardio, and if you are doing a simple youtube yoga class your brain and muscles will thank you.
Working out does not need to be that complicated.
(Excuse my poor foot placement- it fell during the photo!- my last day at my most cherished yoga class during my undergrad years at DePaul)