Is your Fitness Routine too Rigid?

Gates’ Day 41 reading asks the question: “Am I practicing yoga as a means to show up for my life, or to hide from it?” (p.54) He then goes on to talk about how routine or rigidity is usually driven by fear. So I ask you:

Is your fitness routine rigid and inflexible?
What drives you to do the exercise that you do?
I started thinking about my own answers to these questions in preparation for this post. In regards to the yoga question I think a lot of my yoga practice is dedicated to becoming a better teacher. I wish that it were a means to hide from my life, but I find things about myself in my practice which I must always confront. I have not yet met the moment of blissful zen in yoga at which all of life just exists and I am at full peace. This time of year it would be particularly helpful if that were the case. My yoga practice often revolves around need and is squeezed in where it fits. I hate that I don’t have designated times for expansive practice outside of teaching. I feel that that makes me not as great of a teacher as I once was and also, many times, disconnected from my practice. I can honestly go through the motions of the pose and feel only what my body is telling me, but not connect it to my brain as an enjoyable experience. This disappoints me.
My fitness routine is rigid in the sense that it is limited. Earlier this year I was offered an opportunity to start teaching classes at a fitness center here in town. I jumped at the opportunity. Since that time my relationship with that company has dissolved and I no longer get contacted to teach. I’d like to say that it’s through no fault of my own, but I have prioritized feeding my children and paying off debt over owning a smart phone or other digital music player which I can program for teaching purposes. I am old school and use cds and this has limited my options for teaching. I was so excited to teach there for the opportunity to get a free membership (something I cannot readily afford to any place in town at the moment). It would have offered me the option to work out more freely on cooler and rainier days as the kids could have gone to the children’s area. I would have been able to sit in on other instructor’s classes and learn different styles of teaching. (This is a good thing for instructors to do from time to time.) And it would have allowed me to break free of the few things I can do at home with my limited fitness equipment. Mostly I walk, run, or now bike (with the kids). I also do Pilates, yoga, other body weight exercises, and some things with the physio ball. I have no weights to lift and no pool to swim in. I get bored with my options sometimes and also get frustrated at the lack of freedom to workout by myself. In the spring I will not be teaching at the college for the semester and can reallocate “work hours” to workout for mom hours. This may create some more consistency again for me and perk me up some, but it will still be limited and thus feel very rigid.
And the honest answer to number three is that a long time ago I decided that I didn’t like the fate I saw in front of me. Many of my family members struggle with weight and health problems associated with excess weight. I got into this industry to prevent that from happening to me and to help anyone else who wanted the help. So, my workouts are driven by a desire to stay healthy and not just lean.
Why is all of this important on a Tone It Up Tuesday? Because of one of the training principles I was just teaching about this weekend and do on many weekends….Variability. The variability principle basically states that occasionally we need to tax our bodies in ways that we don’t normally tax them in order to see adaptations. So, if all you ever do are body weight squats, you will eventually plateau and never get any stronger in your glutes and quads. But remember when I showed you all of those different ways to do squats and planks? That’s variability. Try to think of your favorite exercise and please list it below. Then, think of 3 different ways you can do that exercise to change it up and please list your ideas for that too. Then, give it a try and see what happens. Break free from the mold now. Don’t wait for a new year’s resolution to try out something new, let’s do it today!

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