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Make Time for Yourself

There is a phenomenon in fitness called the cumulative injury cycle. Basically, if you continue to exercise without correcting any postural distortions that lead to muscle imbalances, the compensations your body makes to allow you to follow through with the exercise will eventually lead to an injury. I am also a firm believer our mental fitness can take a serious hit if we don’t take time to rest and regroup.

As I sit here looking at the ocean in Montauk, I realize what a different person I am today than just two days ago. I attribute this mind-altered state to two factors: I am on vacation and I am doing things for myself I simply do not do enough of at home. That includes:

  • Letting the sound of the ocean drown out my anxieties about work
  • Not rushing through my workouts
  • Sitting in the steam room after my workouts
  • Getting a massage
  • Eating dessert
  • Not worrying about having less-than-optimal cell or WiFi service

To expand on that last point, I haven’t been able to upload any pictures taken on my iPhone to my Facebook page and I have only been able to update my status once. I have been able to open my work and personal email accounts, but I haven’t been able to send a reply. Forget about Twitter or LinkedIn. I finally decided to stop trying to open my apps and simply said: “You are on vacation!” If someone really needs to get a hold of me, I can still retrieve voice messages from a few spots in the parking lot.

Whether you run the household, run a business or have a job where you answer to a boss, everyone works hard. No doubt the state of the economy has shattered whatever our definition of financial security was in the past. Many of us still struggle from the aftershock of losing a job or may be trying to keep a business afloat. This makes it all the more important to take some time to be good to ourselves when we can.

Realistically, a vacation or trip to the spa may not be attainable at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shut out the world for an hour or two a week. Some escape plans include:

  • Replace that Bluetooth in your ear with ear buds for 30 minutes a night and plug them into a sound machine tuned to the ocean surf or frogs in the forest.
  • Add 10 minutes to your workout routine and stretch.
  • For once, try yoga instead of that heart- and muscle-pounding cardio kickboxing class.
  • Take a bath instead of a shower before going to bed.
  • While summer is still here, take your dinner outside and have a picnic in your backyard, roof deck or nearby park.

While it’s important to focus on work, we owe it to ourselves to find our own unique ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

The Benefits of Group Exercise

Boxing? Yoga? There's a Class Out There for You!

Every Tuesday night for the past six years, unless I was sick, on vacation or on the road for work, you’d find me in the front right corner of the group exercise studio in the New York Sports Club near my office sweating it out in my favorite class of the week. “Club Strength” utilizes free weights and weight plates for a total body workout of resistance training. Add the kick-butt choreography and music selections from fitness instructor Wayne Sims, and you have all the makings for a class that gets the heart rate going and brings on the burn in all your muscle groups.  I absolutely love how I feel when I leave this class.

Of course, even Wayne has to take a vacation or sick day now and then and a substitute instructor fills in.  Unfortunately, the sub who filled in tonight just didn’t do it for me.  I’m not here to name names or bad-mouth anyone, as everyone has their own teaching style and technique. Maybe some of the other class regulars enjoyed tonight’s workout.  For me, it was simply disappointing to leave the gym without my normal Tuesday night rush.

While this let-down won’t prevent me from going back to the gym tomorrow, I realize one not-so-hot class experience can wreak havoc on your fitness goals if you’re just getting started on a workout routine.  You decide to take the plunge and join a gym, you try a class and then you simply hate it.  Well, here’s what I say about that predicament: don’t despair and don’t give up!

There are so many different classes available today that it would be hard not to find something you like. Whether it’s “old school” aerobics, spinning, boxing, core conditioning, Pilates or yoga, there really is something for everyone at every skill level. Group classes can be intense, but between the heart-pounding music and the contagious energy of your instructor and classmates, it’s a fun way to get a great workout – sometimes in less than an hour.  Enjoying all these benefits for so many years and wanting to spread the fun to others is what led me to study and become a Certified Group Exercise Instructor with the Aerobics & Fitness Assocation of America (AFAA).

Like many other activities in life, when it comes to exercise, you need to find something you like doing so you can stick with it. Participating in group exercise classes can be a great way to find your own groove on how to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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