Contemporary fitness has become yet another “product” in the beauty and fashion industry. With images and messaging that induce a mixture of desire and insecurity, it’s no wonder that so many people feel anxious about working out! Sadder still, millions of women chase unrealistic results doing fad workouts that come and go like last season’s runway fodder.

In a sea of lycra and loud music, finding the right fitness “fit” can be daunting. There is no “one size fits all” solution. And while any exercise is better than none, being mindful about your workout choices will help you maintain a fit and healthy body over the long haul.

Here are 3 questions to ask yourself when choosing a workout:

  • What do I enjoy doing?

Fitness ads are often designed to persuade with subtle body-shaming tactics that prey upon insecurity. Beware of what part of a fitness promise you are responding to! Does the activity actually appeal to you, or are you driven by the before and after photos?

If you’re only interested in results but otherwise indifferent to the method of getting them, think again! Lasting fitness comes from doing work over time. If you don’t enjoy something, chances are you won’t stick with it, making it extremely unlikely you’ll get any significant results (except discouragement). Working out doesn’t feel like “work” when you’re enjoying it, so pick what you actually like to do!

  • Could I do this regularly?

Many workouts pander to the idea of “no pain, no gain”. It’s important to realize that anytime you’re too sore to move the next day you’re also not likely to be working out! By all means, go for physical challenges–just be sure to engage your body responsibly. This means paying attention to form and/or having a knowledgeable instructor who guides your training beyond just barking orders.

Your body needs to last a lifetime, so it’s important to use it wisely! From a fitness standpoint, it’s far better to engage your muscles regularly and moderately rather than killing yourself with each workout. A kinder, gentler fitness approach can deliver better long-term results because it enables the most important element of all–consistency!

  • How do I feel when I do this?

It’s important to take physical and emotional stock with any workout. How does your body feel?–beat, energized, lengthened, open, tight, toned, worked?  What about your feelings? Do you feel excited, inspired, bored, anxious, guilty, proud, disappointed, critical, happy, calm?

Registering the mind-body experience of a workout helps you get in touch with how well it addresses your needs and expectations and can bring focus to your fitness regime. Having a clear picture about what you want and being thoughtful about how your activities align with those objectives ultimately leads to greater satisfaction. The trick is to keep expectations realistic and allow time to see any changes you hope to achieve.

No matter how much infomercials and fashion mags would have you believe, there’s no magic bullet when it comes to fitness. As a lifelong professional ballerina, I can testify that diligence and consistency are still the best allies for getting and staying in shape. I can also attest to the wonderful versatility of ballet as a fitness practice! Filtering out hype and making choices that feel right for you sets you on a path of sustainable exercise that nourishes you in body, mind and spirit.

HAPPY DANCING!

–Tiekka

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