What do you want your body to look like when you cross your weight loss finish line? Your choice of exercise is shaping your muscles which is forming the shape of your body and as excess weight melts away your shape will be revealed. Is your exercise shaping your body as you want it to look when you reach your goal? Maybe the shape of your body isn’t a priority for you, which is also important to be cognizant of.
Each type of exercise does something different to and for your body: Do you want to elongate? Strengthen & tone? Build muscles or maybe define them? Burn excess fuel stores by getting your heart rate up? Maybe you would like a more slender upper body with a voluptuously inviting lower half? Or the idealized masculine triangular shape?
Classes are a simple way to streamline your exercise and body shaping. Each type works the body differently for the outcome you desire. The advantages of classes include:
♥ Routine, structure and personal accountability
♥ The day, time and location are on a calendar and happen rain or shine
♥ Your only role is to show up and follow to the best of your ability
♥ A trained instructor guarantees a proper warm-up, workout and cool down with appropriate muscle stretching while the class momentum and your pride keep you going “if they can do it, so can I”
♥ Classes work the whole body faster and more efficiently than you would on your own, AND they work body areas you would avoid if left to your own devices
♥ When you leave, you are done (keeping home and fitness separate has its advantages)
♥ The same class with a different instructor offers a new experience while continuing to meet your needs
♥ Classes are less expensive than personal training, but often just as effective
♥ Most instructors offer modifications which allow each student to choose based on body limitations or level
Tips for making the most of Class Time
♦ The value of my person is not based on how I execute a class or how a class executes me
♦ I am looking for a solid respectful and knowledgeable instructor who delivers a strong work-out, not a lunch buddy
♦ I WILL struggle when I go to a new type of class or have a different instructor. My body is learning new movements the same way that a baby learns how to crawl, walk and then run
♦ Instructors move around – if I like only one instructor at a given facility I get their name and find out what other locations they work at
♦ Taking classes in person trained me in ways that now enable me to get the most out of home exercise DVDs.
Let instructors know it is safe for them to single you out and correct your form. They don’t always know who will be receptive to individualized guidance. I love it when a teacher corrects me because I don’t always realize my body has taken the low road to make a tough exercise more palatable. Once I feel the correct position, through direct personal experience, I never forget it. It also demonstrates they are paying attention, willing to stick their neck out and working to help me get the best results. If and when they do single you out, welcome the correction and then THANK THEM for noticing.
Each instructor is a full, but different archive of valuable knowledge. I have unearthed gems that changed my exercise and body dramatically by asking an instructor a simple question after class. They see and understand your body the same way an architect sees and understands a building.
My current routine is two classes a week (Pilates or Ballet) with a couple days in between. One class wasn’t enough and three classes didn’t improve on the results I got from doing two. My simple no brainer 2 hour investment a week removed long standing body pain and improved body function, strength, balance and posture. Once or twice a month I take a new class outside of my routine or comfort zone. It introduces me to yet another option, and the fresh energy and movement activate my body and make my core classes more potent. The days I am not in class, I make sure my body gets 45-90 minutes of exercise.
While facilities and classes offer structure they aren’t necessary for best outcomes. For about 6 years I got up religiously at 5:30am because I only had one hour a day to fit my exercise in. Getting up at that hour was a victory of untold proportions because I am not a morning person and would rather stay warm than head out in the bone chilling night air. I went out my front door and walked the hillside roads where I lived before getting ready for work. The quiet peaceful solitude as the sun rose each day turned out to be a privilege I have never forgotten. I had bought into the idea that I needed to be at a gym to stay in shape, but walking the hillside roads had me in phenomenal and better shape. Plus it fit into my lifestyle without being a burden and didn’t cost me a dime, or a dollar. Your chosen exercise needs to work for your body AND fit with your lifestyle or you won’t do it or stay the course.
I love the advantages of technology, but I am acutely aware of the darker side which demands you live at an unnaturally hasty pace that has robbed you of being able to indulge in curiosity, exploration, observation, questioning and reflection. The next time you are making a decision just to GET IT DONE, I want you to follow Goldilocks’ example. Now I know Goldilocks was an uninvited and unexpected intruder in the family home of the three bears, but outside of that, she is a great role model. She noticed and considered all available options, took her time to try each, and then decided all by herself which was the right option for her.
Explore, invest time and expend the energy to test drive exercise options. If you have your eye on joining a facility then be sure to share your needs, desires and concerns with a knowledgeable front desk employee. They are like tour guides and know the insider scoop about their facility and local competitors. I have met a few kind souls at the front desk who courageously suggested I check out their competitor who would be a better match for me. Be a guest at 3-5 different TYPES of facilities and stop in on different days and times. You would likely test drive a car before committing to it, so test drive your exercise options to see which fits you and your lifestyle best.
Seemingly trivial aspects such as outdoor classes or activities, gender specific, cost, proximity, facility size, community center or amenities invariably alter your experience, which will feed into your commitment and ultimately your end result. Don’t shy away from a place that works for you in every way, but where you don’t fit in. I joined a studio that was a perfect match for my needs, except for the fact that I did not fit in. I wasn’t just the black sheep of the herd I was like a lost camel. It was awkward being the lone camel in what felt like the arctic, but I peacefully stuck it out and did get the big pie in the sky benefit. And the bonus, being odd man out no longer throws me off balance, no matter where I am.
Exercise impacts body function and shape, but also provides you an emotional experience. What experience will feed your soul? Do you want to be on fire in high impact aerobics or spin class? Or you would your heart sing amidst the camaraderie of line dancing? You can take your shy reservation by the horns and cut loose your sensuality in striptease, belly or pole dancing. Stretching is a peaceful letting go whereas yoga has a meditative air. You will learn to feel each muscle in your body with Pilates, and Ballet is elegance of perfect posture with detailed movements. Martial arts is a woven collage of mental concentration, emotional control, spiritual centeredness as well as interactive body contact with others. Boxing offers a great avenue for channeling out frustration, or maybe even residual aggression lurking in the shadows. Soul motion, 5 rhythms and ecstatic dance are a means for self-discovery through dance with others of like mind. What kind of exercise experience will feed your soul?
A personally appropriate exercise respects your body’s limitation while shaping it as you desire with a life improving experience to boot. Don’t be surprised if your personally chosen option heals body function and lingering injuries. As you explore exercise options use Goldilocks’ decision making strategy. Try all your options, then step back and figure out which one is best for you, regardless of what others think or say.
Goldilocks makes it look EASY but sometimes it isn’t so obvious. If your clarity is nothing but a thick fog that never clears then call me. I ask the right questions which will turn on the right lights.