As I was walking down the sidewalk after taking a yoga class this past weekend, a woman who I didn’t know and who was also in the class, came up beside me. She said, “Have you ever taken a class with that instructor before?” No, I said. She continued, “Well I hadn’t either, and I would never take her class again, I feel like I need to go work out now. That was NOT hard enough for me.”
My response to this woman was to say that I felt like the class was the perfect sweat session for a nice Sunday afternoon — perhaps not the hardest power yoga class, but certainly a beneficial practice for the mind and the body. She didn’t seem to agree. She felt underworked.
While I continued walking to my car, I thought about the fact that that woman and I both took the same one-hour Vinyasa yoga class, yet we walked out with very different views. And that’s likely because of our expectations. I wasn’t there to get totally worked, I was there for stretching, recovery and mobility. She was there to go hard.
To tell you a little bit about the class we took that day — the instructor was thoughtful, she started our practice with an inspiring quote, she took our bodies and minds through poses slowly and purposefully, she provided options and even hands-on adjustments, she ended the class with a few minutes in resting position and closed out the hour with a follow-up motivational mantra. How could anyone not feel fantastic when walking out of such an awesome mind/body experience? Yes, we sweat. Yes, we stretched. Yes, we moved. No, we didn’t hit that breathless state of high-intensity interval training, and that’s okay.
Why? Because every workout doesn’t need to be high intensity. Every workout doesn’t need to leave you feeling completely drained. And every workout doesn’t even need to make you sweat through your t-shirt.
But why would someone like me who teaches nothing but high-intensity group fitness classes be preaching to you that you should be OKAY taking it easy? Because it’s the truth.
If you’ve been reading A Lady Goes West for any length of time, you’ve seen that I am adamant about taking at least one full rest day (off of all activity) and including at least one yoga session in each of my weeks. While many of my workouts are one-hour intense sessions, some of them are shorter and some of them are low impact and low intensity. I try to have variety, and I try to make sure not every session is killer. That doesn’t mean I’m not challenging myself or that I’m just going through the motions when I’m at the gym (or at home), it means I’m consciously doing a workout that’s designed to get me moving, but not make me tap into that “all-out” zone, every single day. You know what I mean?
If you think about it, exercise is “stress.” Yes, it feels good to go hard and get in the zone, but not everyone’s body is designed to do that every single day. We’re all different. While one person can train for three hours a day, work a stressful job, finish everything off their to-do list and wake up at 5 a.m. to do it again the next day, some people can’t. Based on your body type, genes and hormones, you will have a different capacity for stress, both from life and from exercise. Just take it from this list of reasons to be careful not to overtrain. Too many hard workouts can actually cause negative effects. We all need to rest.
What I’m telling you today is to be kind to yourself and to your body. While I’m not advising that you to sit on your couch rather than get moving, I am saying that choosing to go to barre class instead of a Crossfit session, because you’re in need of a less intense session — well that’s okay. And if you’re in love with super-tough workouts (like I am), it may mean reminding yourself that your muscles actually build on your days off. And light movement on the day after a tough workout actually helps to flush your muscles out as well. So if you take a day to just ride your bike or hit up a yoga class, when you’re back to the gym again, you’ll actually be more prepared for another tough session.
We all go through plenty of hard stuff each and every single day in our lives, and your workouts don’t always have to be on that list.Why every workout doesn't need to be hard ... #fitness #FitFluential #SweatPink Click To Tweet
(P.S. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts.)
Questions of the day
What’s your favorite “light” day of exercise?
How many rest days do you take a week?