I talk loads about intuitive exercise on my instagram stories but I thought it was about time that we start pumping out some content on here!
What is intuitive exercise and why should you do it?!
Intuitive exercise to me is exercising only in a way that feels good to your body and at a time that feels good to your body. I revamped the way I thought about exercise after getting beyond burned out as a fitness instructor. I began to hate prepping for class and my expectations for myself became too thought consuming to keep up. I began to gauge my self worth off how many people showed up to class, how many smiles and screams filled the room in Zumba, and how I looked. Come the end of senior year in college I took a step back from teaching and reevaluated some things. (Ps I really did have some awesome times as an instructor and it was the perfect college job!)
I said no to teaching at my YMCA at home because I honestly just wanted to see what classes felt good to me. I began to step into classes that were fun to me in high school and that I always looked forward to on breaks at home as well as some new classes! I also no longer pushed myself to go to the gym every day. I only went for those classes I enjoyed and the rest was up for discussion.
What I found was that I was so motivated to get my booty to the Y and sweat and never was I dreading it. I never pushed myself to go if I was too tired, too stressed, or just not feeling like it and my body thanked me for it. My knees no longer hurt and I’ve been able to hold heavier weights and increase my stamina in cardio classes. I also feel rested.
The thing is, when we push our bodies past the limit we are not going to feel fulfilled. Too often I see friends, coworkers, or people on social media “pushing” themselves to make it to a certain step goal, calorie burn, minute mark, or rep goal with the intention of manipulating their body versus celebrate it. They workout to look good not to feel good. That starts a vicious cycle of self harm either physically or mentally.
Intuitive exercise allows you to relieve stress, actually feel endorphins, and to listen to your body.
If you are working out just to fit into your date night dress or your wedding dress then intuitive exercising isn’t for you. That’s a goal that I don’t support. If you are working out to take care of yourself, to strengthen your body, and to relieve stress then intuitive exercising is for you.
- Experiment: Find classes at your local gym that make you smile. For me its Step class, Yoga, Small Group Training, Zumba (being a student, not a teacher), and a class called “Body Works”. Everything else is blah to me. I also enjoy walking, hiking, and riding bikes! Swimming is also a fun way to move and any water sports like kayaking or paddle boarding. Once you found what you like and dislike, then add those into your calendar. If there are open days, let your body tell you how to move. It might be a walk with the dogs or catching up with the fam on the phone. It might be some gentle yoga in your living room off Youtube , or it might be a fun class your girlfriend invited you to! The point is to listen to how you are feeling.
- Remove any negative social media influences pushing you to do otherwise. If you are following those people who don’t skip a day and have perfectly chiseled abs. News Flash: they work out an aggressive amount and most likely don’t have lives outside of fitness, blogging, or being a fitness business. You probably have a life, a job, kids, etc. and your body should never be compared to them. Being perfectly toned isn’t an example of what a normal body looks life.
- Allow your feelings to change. If you told me last summer that I would want to go to a Zumba class again I would be like LOL rriiiight. Now? bring it on! I needed to take a step back from it all to find that it really is something that I enjoy, I just don’t have a passion for teaching anymore! Your likes and dislikes will change with time, hormones, age, the weather, and the time of year. Respect those changes and roll with them.
- Lastly, accept imperfection. Intuitive exercise has given me so much more happy workouts but I am working out slightly less than I used to and I don’t have a perfect body. Instead of looking at the size of my pants, I look at the amount of weight I can lift, how many more burpiess I can do, and how much happier I feel. Some weeks I stick to my routine and some weeks family tragedy mentally exhausts you, or you get sick, or whatever, and thats ok. Move on.
Intuitive exercise is something that has changed my life and I hope you try too! What are some of your favorite ways to workout?!