Do Our Workouts Really Make Us Stronger?
Or Are the Latest Intense Fitness Trends Detrimental to Our Health? How Pilates Fits Into That Equation…
Do you ever feel like you are living in a crazy, intense world?
This intensity has grown in our work, our social lives, the sports our kids participate in and yes, even our workouts. I have been working in the fitness industry for over 25 years and have witnessed an evolution in the psyche of the human spirit. We are surrounded by endless intensity to do more, work more and push harder. This fire is greatly fueled by the media and the constant temptation to achieve greatness. Greatness as a parent, as a worker and yes, even as an athlete.
We are constantly surrounded by the latest and the greatest way to achieve fitness stardom. Many of us believe if we are not training for a marathon, destroying our bodies in a boot camp class or sweating profusely to a fast- paced hot Yoga class, than we are not truly fit.
There is a huge trend in the fitness industry to glorify exercise as an “all- out war” on the body. This trend is a symptom of a much larger disease. We live in a culture obsessed with aggression, and it has found its way into every facet of our lives, even our workouts.
This mentality affects our health, happiness and the ability to sustain a smart exercise program, free from injury.
When you are exercising or planning your next workout, do you believe any of the following statements are true:
*No pain, no gain….you have to suffer to get in shape. *More is better (a 30-minute workout is worthless) *Working out is not supposed to be fun, it is an obligation. *You are only as good as your last workout.
*If you miss a workout, you feel guilty.
If you feel any of those statements are true, then you may have fell victim to the fitness craziness that surrounds you every day. Sustaining this mind- set is not healthy and can set you up for injury, illness or complete “exercise burnout”.
So what’s a person to do?
Well, first of all, you have to change your mindset. Exercise is not a path to an eventual destination. It should be viewed as a daily adventure. It is important to learn about your body and what it takes to nourish, strengthen and heal it properly. Exercise should be considered a lifelong process. Something you do every day to feel better both mentally and physically.
Don’t get me wrong, I love an intense, all-out workout. But keeping that intensity in check is what is important. There is a huge difference between using intensity wisely and using it compulsively. You do have to get uncomfortable to see you body change. So don’t use what I am saying as an excuse to abort your exercise mission. Use it as a way to truly examine your routine and make sure it is a healthy one. Find a middle ground. Push yourself in your workouts until you feel uncomfortable. But learn to interpret the sensations and signals your body is giving off. Learn when your body can be pushed and when your may need a day off to recover. There is not a recipe on how to do this The more in tune you are with your body, the easier it is to train hard, reach your goals and avoid injuries or burn out.
There are several ways you can make sure you don’t fall into the mentality of “declaring war “on your body during your workouts. Here are just a few:
1.Exercise wisely…Listen to your body for signals of when you can ramp up the intensity of your workout and when to give yourself a day of rest.
2.Variety is the spice of life….Use many forms of exercise to achieve your fitness goals. Go to a Zumba class, join a tennis league or try a Pilates/Yoga combination class. Keep your body guessing. Doing the exact same workout day in and day out can lead to overuse injuries and mental burn out.
3. Make sure your workouts include three main forms of exercise….Cardio, Strength and Flexibility.
4. Look closely at the routines you are looking to start. Some of the latest trends may not always be the smartest.
5. Make sure Pilates is part of your routine. Most people hate to work their core muscles, so they often skimp on that part of their program. Remember, you are only as strong as your core. A stronger core, can lead you to a healthier exercise routine with fewer injuries.
All health and fitness goals require constant motivation. But remember, exercise should be a fun adventure not an ultimate destination.