Workout Smarter, not Harder

 In Fitness, Mind-body connection

“No pain, no gain!” Whenever I hear someone say this, I feel myself start to twitch and have to hold back my natural New Yorker instinct to slap this person (Unless it’s a friend and then I will happily do it). We’ve all heard this saying, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, in my twenties I pretty much lived by this mantra; Always doing boot camps and teaching the most challenging class possible with cool looking exercises, because that’s what people want, right??!! As a result, in my thirties, by body started breaking down. Pain caused by Achilles tendinitis, stress fractures from ridiculous amounts of miles, and all the while, trying to “push through” the pain. Now, as I’m about to enter my forties, I’ve started to get smarter about my workouts. Aging, and, of course expanding my knowledge base over the last decade, have lead me to this more intelligent mindset which I strive to instill in my clients as well. Here are some key things to ask yourself as you’re working out:

  • Is this causing pain or discomfort? If so, it is muscle fatigue, or joint pain? If it’s the latter, stop what you’re doing and consult a professional. If you’re working with a trainer or coach who wants you to fight through the joint pain, fire that person immediately.
  • Is this exercise appropriate for me? What is it working and does it serve a purpose for my daily activities and lifestyle. For instance, if you’re a runner, you should be doing exercises to target the hips and glutes. Maybe you’re a senior who just wants to be more functional and be able to play with your grandchildren or prevent injury. In this case balance and stability work as well as core strengthening are going to be your focus. If you’re a 65 year old woman and your trainer has you doing cross-fit exercises and handstands within the first week you work together (yes, this actually happened), please fire him or her immediately.
  • Is this exercise serving me mentally and physically? If a particular exercise is something you hate, chances are you’re not going to give it your totally focus, and this may lead to injury. If you hate running, why are you doing it? Try outdoor cycling or a spin class instead. Don’t like lifting weights? Maybe try a circuit class that incorporates strength and cardio to mix it up and relieve your boredom. If you find an activity that you really love and feeds your mind and body, chances are you’ll stick with it.
  • What are my goals and is this workout helping me achieve those goals? Don’t know? Then it’s probably not. This would be a good time to contact a qualified professional!

In summary, your workouts should make you feel good and help you achieve your goals, whatever they may be. Muscle soreness is good, but debilitating pain is not. What works for your spouse or your friend may not work for you. Everybody’s body is different. Honor and respect what your body is telling you on a daily basis. After all, your body is the only place you’ve got to live, you might as well be good to it!

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