As a dancer my experience of ‘exercise’ was very different from most. It wasn’t simply something I had to do at the end of a long days work, but was in fact my long days work! I’ve learnt from years of professional training that being a sportsman (dancing or otherwise) needs a very different stamina from being a gym-goer. Of course physically it’s extremely different, but I believe the real difference is in the mentality.
When I first stopped dancing, I didn’t want to set foot in a gym – I rebelled against exercise with the excuse that I was ‘far too busy’ getting my life together. Of course 10 years of training eventually got the better of me and I knew a consistent exercise routine was paramount for my wellbeing. Even with the knowledge that the pay-off felt great, keeping the enthusiasm for my morning workouts wasn’t easy. Based on this experience i’ve put together my top tips to have a hot, steamy, loving relationship with exercise, that will last.
How do you know if a workout is good for you?
If you’re dreading rolling out the mat and streaming or going to your workout class every day, that’s the biggest sign you haven’t found a workout that challenges you in the right way. There is always a level of resistance towards exercise but if you finish the hour knowing your body is better for it and you want to go back tomorrow – you’ve found something that works.
It’s completely normal to feel DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness) after a good workout, however if you’re feeling like you’ve pulled or injured a part of your body post sweat, likely the workout isn’t working for you. This may be due to the intensity and your current level of strength not matching up, which can lead to compensation and overusing certain muscle groups over others. It can also be down to the teacher and how they correct your technique as you perform the exercises. Whatever the cause if you’re injured or felt pain throughout, you need to take a look at what you were doing and if it was working for your body, likely not.
If you know it’s not a good fit for your body, there are endless methods and routines that you haven’t tried. I often advise my clients to write body journals when coming back from injury, just writing a sentence each day to reflect how their body felt during and after the workout. You can take this concept for different classes and workout techniques. Slowly you’ll see a pattern showing what your body responds best to – is it slow and controlled body weight work like Barre and Pilates or 1-1 strength training.
If not liking exercise is a mindset, how do I shift this?
Tapping snooze to your 6am workout alarm is all too easy, your bed is so cosy and the thought of leaving it to go grill your body isn’t a welcome one so early. This is when you’ve got to fake it. Put out your favourite leggings the night before, and make sure when you wake up you’re excited to get up and move (feel this way, even if you don’t). Your inner actress needs to come out, even if the performance isn’t all that believable.
Make the transition from bed to gym effortless, this will keep the complaining at bay and make it a far easier and better experience.
Whether you’re streaming with me or going to a class don’t stop ‘loving’ it now. Pushing your body can be hard, and it’s easy to slip into a comfortable place, doing the bare minimum. I’ve gone to the gym before and done 5 minutes on the rowing machine, before lying down and practically falling asleep in the stretching corner. It’s easily done! Don’t be that person, utilise the opportunity to see what your amazing body can do. Embrace the struggle and push yourself.
I always say that streaming is something you can only love out of habit. If you join me 6 days a week, you’re going to have so much more momentum to login again the next day. You’re ingraining that routine into your body. If you stop for weeks the thought of going back to routine becomes more and more intimidating. Book a time in your diary at least 3-4 times a week to move that body, and prioritise that time just as you would an important meeting.
15 minutes of working out every day is far superior to one hour once a week.
In the online studio we have workouts from 10-20 minutes and mixes between 30-60 minutes. The individual shorter workouts are the best possible place to start when you’re trying to create a daily ritual you feel you can maintain. 15 minutes in the morning is nothing, but those 15 minutes over a week, a month, a year has a huge impact on your life.
It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. To create maximum impact it’s all about consistency.
The most important point is this one, have a goal. It doesn’t have to be a physical one, in fact my main goal with a workout never really is. For me it’s a mixture of two things; I know working out gives me a greater perspective on my life and work. I sleep better, eat better and feel better when I have movement in my day. One of my goals is to give myself that clarity every single day in one way or another. Even if the movement is only a half-hour walk. The other goal I have is to do with strength and achievement within my routine – I’m always striving to be that much stronger in a posture, or that much more flexible in a move. These are little markers to show improvement in my body, the more I see them, the more goals I have.
So if your relationship with exercise is a little rocky try out these 5 tips and report back. I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me!
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