Back in the day, before massage, before Pilates....before a lot of education and training, I was a gym rat. Yes, I was one of those girls at the gym on the stair master, eliptical, treadmill or whatever cardio sweating machine there was. I would go for 2 hours on those machines listening to my favorite tunes on my walk man (yes, I realize I am dating myself). What did I get out of it, a runner's high, a lot of sweat and a feeling of accomplishment. I worked hard thinking this was the way you were supposed to do it. Now a days, it's just the opposite, many people are trading in their cardio days for High intensity training, high weights and pushing the limits of their bodies. However, the similarity is that we are still overworking.
I think I am priveledged enough to be at a certain age where I have seen a lot of different fitness trends come and go. I remember doing Aerobics and Jane Fonda with my mom when I was in junior high. I remember the birth of the gym, an all-in-one mega building with cardio, weights, classes etc to the more streamlined boutique specialized studios that teach Yoga, Barre, Pilates, etc. Either way, we are always pushing ourselves to extremes and trying to find that perfect fit because somehow we feel if we don't do it 100% we are not doing anything.
That is not true. There are so many health benefits to movement, any movement and not just a lean body and weight loss. Our minds and bodies are connected and we push ourselves to extremes and we don't give ourselves a break. So the changes we are striving for don't actually occur, no matter what particular regime we are doing. What I've noticed through out time is that sometimes less is more. I've seen people transform themselves with just walking everyday, or doing a small self guided meditational yoga class. These things elevate both mind and body in unison. I have also experienced this in my own body. When I first found Pilates I remember getting on this long torture looking piece of equipment and feeling that the workout wasn't "Hard" enough, but I did notice that I liked the way my body felt afterwards, so I kept going. In time, my body started changing more than anything else I had ever done. The other benefit, which snuck up on me is that I felt better, my mood started to change. Mood has a huge affect on how we move and feel. Many of us spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer or a phone. When we are sedentary for a long time our mood starts to change. We feel sluggish, tired, maybe even depressed.
We need to train our minds and bodies and we need to give them a break from overworking. The break we need is doing less but still doing. Our ancestors did not have Barre studios and Cross fit, they had labor, real labor. Some days were harder than others, but they had to move to find food, shelter, and to survive. They moved every day.
A few years ago, I started a concept studio with a good friend of mine who is a former competitive athlete and yoga teacher, we called it Movemore because we both had been working in the fitness industry and saw the need to create change. We both saw more transformations when people worked less but unified body and mind in their movement. They work in unison and if we are not truly present and in tune with our bodies it doesn't matter how much we want something to happen, how far we push, it just won't. Its hard to tell someone who is used to pushing and taking their body to the edge to slow down, to breath and back off. The key to a healthy and strong body isn't always taking it to extremes. Our muscles are meant to work at 100% capacity all the time. We called it Movemore because that is exactly what we wanted people to do, move more. You can move more frequently and with less effort and you will actually achieve results that are long lasting.
I have trained a lot of people who have burned out their bodies at younger ages, with hip replacements, knee replacements, shoulder injuries and other over use injuries because they were all pushers. Now they would be happy to just move and not feel pain. If we can take time to listen, be present, move, and keep going then we will be doing a service to our minds and our bodies for the long run.