Finding the Right Movement for You
What’s the best exercise for you?
It seems like every season there’s a new workout trend. Whether it’s HIIT classes, yoga, pilates, weight lifting, or steady-state cardio, someone out there is saying, “This is the secret to fat loss, health, longevity, etc.”
Let’s unpack that for a second. There’s normally some truth to the claims. HIIT can be really good for your cardiovascular health. Yoga and Pilates have insane health benefits. Strength training is known across the board to be good for bone density, aging, and overall metabolic health. Steady-state cardio is great for your heart and mind in the right amounts.
However, to swear by one form of movement as “the best” or the one you “just have to do!” is a bit of an overstatement.
The Best Form of Exercise
The best form of exercise is the one you enjoy doing. The one that’s realistic and practical for you to do consistently. Whether it’s taking workout classes, strength training, playing sports, walking, or even dancing, at the end of the day and in the grand scheme of your life, what matters is that you moved your body throughout your life.
As a former personal trainer and current health professional, I’ve seen countless amounts of people stop exercising altogether because a trainer or professional would give them one approach and make them feel guilty if they didn’t enjoy it. There can be so much guilt and resistance associated with adjustment and change but the truth is, you’re meant to adapt throughout your life. If you’ve weight trained for a year, loved it, but eventually got tired of it, it doesn’t necessarily mean you failed or couldn’t be consistent and should give up altogether. It means it’s time to search for another exercise love.
How to Find Movement You Enjoy
Just like anything else, if you’re trying to find something new you enjoy, you have to explore. You have to try a few options until one feels exciting and natural and fits into your budget and schedule.
Before I found my favorite forms of movement (walking and strength training), I went through years of powerlifting, then years of boxing classes, then years of just walking. I went through phases of loving one form of movement so much then feeling like I needed a change and taking a few classes (and rest) until I found a new love.
Talk to friends and family, google workout classes in your area, and listen to your body to explore what other options are out there if you’re in a workout rut.
What if You Don’t Enjoy Movement At All
Honestly, I get it. There was a time in my life when moving just to exercise was not going to happen. I didn’t enjoy it. And even if I did enjoy a type of workout class at the moment, I didn’t have a desire to go back consistently or sign up for a membership and I sure as heck didn’t look forward to it.
But let me tell you what changed. What changed was honestly being fed up and exhausted with not feeling like I was doing much of anything for myself. I got up, went to school, went to work, and went to bed, without a thought or moment for myself. It’s not that I wanted to move so badly, it was that I wanted to do something desperately.
It was the reward of taking care of myself mentally that got me hooked on movement. I truly believe that’s where the change happens. And when you become hooked on simply taking care of yourself, you release the pressure of finding a “perfect” workout, and just move your body to move it. It’s extremely gratifying and freeing when your mindset shifts to the purpose of movement.
Ideal Workout Routine vs. Realistic Routine
Okay, but what should you be doing?
If we look at the science, ideally, we could be resistance training anywhere from 2–4 days a week. This could include weight lifting, bodyweight workouts, banded exercises, many workout classes like pilates, body pump, and even walking on an incline!
Steady-state walking should probably be done every day in some form. And stretching/recovery would be nicely balanced in.
While that might be “ideal”, I recommend when you’re first starting out, to stick to one thing. Don’t worry about following a rigid schedule. If your goal is to walk more, just focus on walking more. If you tried a workout class you love, just focus on getting in there on a consistent basis. As that movement becomes your “normal,” you’ll be able to listen to your body and develop a stretching or added routine when it feels right. Building consistent habits are like building a house. You have to pour the foundation first. You can’t think about the doorknobs and the light fixtures (things you do need in the house) until you’ve first laid your foundation. Lay your movement foundation, then you can focus on little accessories to sprinkle in after it’s built and established.
And if worst comes to worst, your life is shaken up, the gyms close, you don’t have time for a workout video on TV, turn on your favorite playlist, and dance. At home dance parties never fail.
With my clients, I focus on shifting habits without restricting or counting calories to achieve sustainable weight loss or weight maintenance. We use practical nutrition so we can live life and feel our best!
If you’re ready to dive deep into your habits and feel confident about your choices surrounding food again, book a free consultation with me here!