When I was a dancer in my twenties, spending 6 hours a day in the studio, someone made a comment that made no sense at the time. “You’re so lucky. At least with your job you don’t have to try to fit exercise into your life.” I shrugged. I mean how hard can it be?
Well, 30 years later I realize just how hard it can be. Very hard.
But, um..aren’t you a Pilates teacher?
Yes. But I teach Pilates. I don’t perform Pilates. So, true, it’s not a sedentary job which is helpful, but teaching is verbal, above all else and to get in a real Pilates workout I need to plan and prioritize. Otherwise there is always something more pressing to do. And Pilates is on my list of exercise that I truly love which I’m beginning to realize is a rather short list.
Short list of what I love.
Add what I sometimes love in perfect conditions
Swimming (bumps up to a ❤️ category in a perfect saltwater pool or warm ocean.
HIking – in perfect weather where it’s very hilly.
Ok. So if I lived in a resort none of this would be a problem. But I don’t live in a resort. I live downtown without a car and walking is always a significant part of my week. But that doesn’t suffice.
Really, my true nature is not to pursue fitness, so much as enjoyment.
But with time constraints, unreliable weather and a long list of activities I dislike, it means the casual, follow your enjoyment approach doesn’t add up to enough weekly activity.
So I’ve finally accepted how planned and calculated I have to be to reach my weekly fitness goals.
So included in my weekly plan are the following activities which I dislike, but am willing to add in.
- Bike to work. I’ve tried to like biking, I really have. I biked through covid, with my bike riding loving child, but am not a fan. Particularly of city biking. When I see movie scenes where someone in a sundress is riding a bike in the Italian countryside, a baguette in a sac, I think – that’s the type of biking I could learn to love.
- Mini HIIT workouts. When research came out that short burst high intensity workouts were highly beneficial and could be as short as 12 mins, there was no one happier than me. Not fun, but very satisfying and easy to fit in.
- Swimming in non ideal conditions. My son just passed the age where I have to go in the pool with him which is great and unfortunate. Those hours of treading water while he enjoyed the cold pool with friends may happen a lot less now. I’ll try to keep some of that going, though time will tell.
So with planning and calculation I can hit my goals of recommended weekly fitness.
- 120 minutes of moderate to intense exercise, including high intensity cardio
- Lots of walking
- Stretching and strengthening via Pilates
And this is for someone who’s job is physical, who is deeply motivated and driven by exercise research, and has somewhat of an obsessive personality. I watch my husband’s 50 hours of job-required sitting in a week and realize how impossible those goals can be for everyone.
What happened to 10,000 steps/day? Isn’t that enough?
As research continuously confirms, more movement is better, for all aspects of health. It’s undeniable. More exercise of varying intensity is screamingly important in terms of longevity, mobility, joint health, mental health and to ward off cancer, diabetes, heart disease and dementia. As much as one can ward off these things.
So if someone is relatively sedentary, there is huge benefit to adding a walk and some stretching into the week. More is more.
Every time there is a new study based on a simple exercise that is short and mindless, I try it out. The current hyped one is the study based on the Wall Squat effectively helping to lower blood pressure. Reading the NYTimes report on the study inspired me to try it out as it sounds easy enough. I mean how hard can it be? It turns out, very hard. Wall squats are hideous and it is unlikely to rise up to my dislike but I’ll do category.
But perhaps the wall squat routine can sit in my mental box of options for those winter weeks when time is short and I’ve fallen off my weekly goal. There needs to be a lot of options available to make it all work.
Thankfully, there is always more Pilates.