by Tiffany Houser, Green Monkey Interactive
People in my life know how much I enjoy physical movement whether it is an exercise class, going on a bike ride or participating in a competitive sport. As I mentioned in my other blog post, Movement Trifecta for Children, I was fortunate to have my parents enroll me in dance, swimming and gymnastics during my pre-school years.
Now, as a 34 year old former athlete, building a Balanced Living company with the main draw in our locations being yoga, I feel that my movement is coming full circle.
Over the past two years I have become ADDICTED to Spinning. Oddly enough, had you told me 5 years ago I'd become an avid spinner to the point of becoming a certified instructor, I would have laughed.
When I was an Intern in the New York corporate offices of Crunch Fitness back in 1996, spin was just coming into action in Manhattan. Intrigued by the excitement and publicity Spin was receiving, I decided to jump into a class and take part in the experience...7 minutes later, I jumped off that bike and ran out gasping for air and fearful that my ears were actually bleeding from the loud music.
Fast forward, over 10 years later, I decided to give it another try because there was this class that had a live musician and would always fill up. So of course I took a bike right by the door assuming when it was time to make my early exit I wouldn't disrupt the class nor make the instructor feel as though the class wasn't up to par.
Seven minutes passed, and I was still on the bike, seventeen minutes passed and I was still on the bike. To my pleasant surprise, I made it to the end! I decided to take the same class the following week which was the start of something I now love so much and look forward to doing every week.
With the Editorial work I do with Green Monkey, I am constantly on top of our industry, learning what's hot and what's not, gathering reports and scientific studies and talking to consumers and experts in each of our fields. In my constant search to do things smarter, I learned that weight lifting is one of the keys to burning calories and fighting the physical aging process. This led me to take weight lifting classes because I believe group classes are the best way to leverage your time in a movement venue. Having someone guide you, while being motivated by peers and covering almost every body part is what a busy person and efficiency seeker needs.
I never really thought too much about injury prevention, because I do not compete in sports anymore, until I twisted my knee. Injuries are one of the worst things that can happen to someone with an active lifestyle. Joint injuries in particular are worrisome because if they are not properly taken care of and rehabilitated they can be problematic for the rest of your life.
Since I could not spin or lift weights for at least two months I needed to find an alternative activity to maintain my cardiovascular health and my happiness. Living in Miami does have a lot of perks, one of them being the ability to swim outdoors all year round, especially when your friend's building has a lap pool. I began swimming and doing some of the sequences from the aqua fitness classes I used to teach when I was a lifeguard. I also took more yoga and Pilates classes as well.
As soon as my knee healed, I started back slowly by taking conditioning and weight lifting classes. I was craving spin, but I knew that I was not ready. I still to this day remember that first spin class. It was the most exhilarating feeling ever! Even though my knee ached the next day, I knew that was a part of the rehab process.
Now, I am a power house at the gym, I take on average one weight lifting class per week and about 4-5 spin classes weekly...my body is starting to speak...'You're killing me with the constant routine!'.
Over the past 2 months, my body has felt like the day after skiing or snowboarding. I have also found myself using the 5 and 2.5 pound weights during class which is not doing any good for my body. I'm not into trying to bulk up, but the weights need to be heavy to some degree in order to get results and grow the muscle.
That is where the mind/body modalities have shown me the light (no pun intended).
Yoga and Pilates are key for a healthy physical body. The stretching, twisting, pressure and core work these two practices push the body to do, is like physical therapy mixed with plastic surgery! What I mean is that the body needs balance. As you may have learned from Christi Idavoy's blog post, Every Movement Creates a Body Pattern, if you only do repetitive physical movement your body will develop in a limited way, whereas if you combine your repetitions with the twisting, posing, and anti-gravity movements in yoga, you are enrolling your muscles in school. They are learning to move in new ways or maybe not new ways but in new sequences.
My comparison to plastic surgery stems from the fact that yoga and, more so, Pilates sculpt the body. Our bodies can be pushed with weights and cardio workouts and we may shed pounds or beef up, but the defining results that can be accomplished with yoga and Pilates practically make your body look like you sucked out the excess mass that you can see externally and feel internally.
Overall, I encourage you to continue to move and challenge your body for more than the obvious reasons. Movement leads to a better lifestyle, a balanced lifestyle.