by Samantha Kelley, Health Coach and Restore Intern Extraordinaire
So perhaps you’re like me. I DREAD going to the gym. Let’s just say I am extremely intimidated by all those exceptionally fit and highly motivated gym members…not to mention the latest “state-of-the-art” equipment which I have NO idea how to use.
Well, one day I had an epiphany: intense gym workouts just don’t suit me, through and through. It took me years to accept this and not fight against my nature, but eventually I began to look into different forms of exercise in order to find options that resonated with me.
Qigong. “If you want to be healthy and live to 100, do qigong,” says Dr. Mehmet Oz. Qigong is a self-healing technique similar to tai chi which incorporates gentle movements, meditation, visualization, breathing exercises, and even massage. Regular practice increases stamina, flexibility, vitality, and strength. Other benefits noted by qigong partakers include:
- Increased energy and mental clarity
- Reduced anxiety
- Higher levels of concentration
- More positive mood states
- Found to be extremely effective in treating those suffering from depression/bipolar disorder
Yoga. It probably can be argued that this is no longer considered “alternative,” given its prevalence in the community today. Nonetheless, the term “yoga” translates to mean “union” in ancient Sanskrit. This refers to the integration and balance of mind, body, and spirit. Yoga can:
- Increase flexibility
- Improve muscle tone
- Decrease anxiety
- Help to maintain a sense of emotional balance
Pilates. A great exercise option to relieve chronic pain of the spine and lower back. Joseph Pilates developed and brought this form of body conditioning to New York in the 1920’s. Many of his followers were originally dancers and athletes who used pilates for prevention and rehabilitation of injuries. Pilates is used to:
- Strengthen muscles, particularly core postural muscles which support the spine
- Increase flexibility
- Improve balance
- Teach awareness of breath
In-home fitness and personal training. Bring the gym to you…how sweet is that? With this convenient option, a fitness trainer designs an individualized workout program for you while providing continued support and guidance–all in the comfort of your own home. An excellent option for when it’s cold and snowy outside (and you don’t want to leave your house), but still want to remain active. Given the highly personalized nature of the training, many benefits can be had depending on your goals and preferences.
Other movement options to look into:
- Drumming circles
- Home fitness DVDs (ex. BeachBody’s P90X program)
- Tai chi
- Hula hoop fitness
This is but a sampling of exercise alternatives to explore if you are looking for something new and different. Check out the numerous local fitness and dance classes offered through community education programs. And for the more adventurous there are even pole dance or burlesque classes offered around town!
Keep in mind that physical activity is an excellent way to manage stress, maintain physical well being, and achieve optimal health. Yet, getting in shape should be fun and energizing. My final piece of advice: find what works for you! (Hey, I still think nothing beats a brisk walk around the lake.) Remember to stay hydrated and always keep your water bottle on hand when exercising.
And remember: a few minutes of exercise is way better than none! To get you going, try repeating the below mantra before working out.
“With each and every practice, I improve myself. When I improve myself, I aid in the improvement of all humanity.” -Source unknown
Go ahead and make some of your own motivational mantras or affirmations for exercising and otherwise. Write on post-it notes and place in areas of your home that you frequent the most (on computers, bathroom mirrors, refrigerator, etc.).
Get started and find what works for you in the New Year. Check out some of the Twin Cities best in personal movement and fitness: Alexander Technique, Qigong, Tai Chi, Pilates, Personal Training, Fitness, Muscle Activation Techniques, and Yoga.
Samantha Kelley is Restore’s newest intern and guest blogger. She is a MA candidate ’12 enrolled in the Holistic Health Studies program at St. Catherine University and is studying to be a Holistic Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Samantha is passionate about educating and empowering others to take charge of their own health.
Seaward, B. L. (2012). Managing stress: Principles and strategies for health and wellness. (7rd ed.). Boston: Jones and Bartlett.