Long story short – exercise is good for you. Earth shattering news I know (I can feel the eyes rolling already). Most people do not debate that moving your body on a regular basis is a foundational good habit which has a myriad of benefits that spill over to oh-so-many aspects of our lives. Research shows that exercise stimulates blood flow throughout the body and into the brain, so it literally helps us think better, improving our memory and ability to learn. It boosts our energy and focus while improving our sleep quality and slows down the aging process. It elevates our moods and helps to combat depression, anxiety, and stress. It contributes positively to cardiovascular and metabolic health and bolsters bone density and the immune system. It changes the shape and composition of our bodies and provides us with increased confidence and feelings of self efficacy which have a compound effect on other areas of our lives.
Despite knowing on some level that these things are true, many people find it challenging to make exercise a consistent part of their lives. And this, I believe, is because they haven’t found a way that works for them specifically. Working out doesn’t have to be particularly onerous or time consuming or involve X amount of miles/calories burned/minutes/reps, etc. It will (and should!) look different for everyone depending on their own preferences, life circumstances, or body. And you will be infinitely more likely to stick with healthy habits if you can find something that just fits. There are so many different options and ways to get moving out there, that it I am confident there is truly something for everyone.
I was a cheerleader for 7 years all through middle school, high school, and my first year of college and I also coached for 5 years. I absolutely LOVED it. Despite grueling 1.5 – 2 hour practices everyday after school, games and competitions, I simply could not get enough. I took extra gymnastics classes on my own time to improve my skills, I practiced at home incessantly, and forced my friends and family to participate any chance I had. Then, I was involved in a major car accident which shattered my pelvis (along with a fracture to the tibia, nerve damage to spinal cord, and some other major cuts) and I was completely bedridden for 3 months with loads of rehabilitation and physical therapy afterwards. While my recovery has been nothing short of miraculous, my days of jumping and tumbling were effectively over. For several years that followed, I floundered fitness-wise. I didn’t really know what to do, what I would like, or even what options existed, so I halfheartedly attempted running, light weight work and a billion-crunches-in-one-day-followed-by-nothing-for-the-next-three-weeks. Working out wasn’t fun and I wasn’t consistent, but I knew it was something I should try to do.
I had always worked in jobs that were on my feet with lots of moving around, but when I transitioned to a more traditional office position – it became clear that somethings were going to have to change. Eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and barely working out was not helping the situation. I became more serious about learning what to do, mostly by reading online articles and finding a few recipes or at-home workouts here and there to try. Then I happened across an article which talked about this new fitness trend – barre. I was intrigued, looked up a local studio and found the prices for a new client membership, but I was headed home for Christmas and resolved to start upon my return in January. While I was home, I had dinner with one of my most fabulous friends, Katie, who was SO excited to tell me all about this awesome new workout she was loving… BARRE. The next day, she and I went to her studio so I could try it out and I fell in love instantaneously. Upon my return to New England, I bought the new client unlimited special and so began my almost-every-single-day obsession for barre.
Three years later, Katie and I are still barre obsessed and are both now instructors! This year when I went home for Christmas, I was able to take her class in the studio that started it all.
If you hate running, don’t do it. If you think yoga is too hippy-dippy, don’t do it. If you’ve had a knee or hip replacement, plyometrics may not be best for you. All of these options are great without question, but if they don’t work for you, they don’t work for you. However, there are endless alternatives available that are designed to fit each of our own unique interests, styles, schedules, and bodily constraints while helping us to MOVE. I cannot urge you enough to get out and try different things until you find something that sticks. Working out can and should be something that you look forward to as opposed to something you dread or just endure to check off the to do list. It may take some time, but I do believe there is something out there for everyone and that finding out what that is for you is well worth the effort.
Former cheerleaders, but forever friends, at the barre