Is it just me or does the world of sports and exercise have something very out-to-prove and agressively square about it? I used to think that doing sports was supposed to feel stressful to your body. That getting in shape was about setting targets and trying hard. That it was about being confronted with your limitations head-on and pushing through resistance. Now, I’m discovering a whole new way to work out. One that, unfortunately, isn’t advertised much.
A lot of it has to do with being female and being HSP no doubt. Being HSP means being more sensitive to pain. So classical work-out regimes never really felt very good to me. And then, being a woman meant being torn between competitive and agressive sports with focus and determination versus pink-tutu style chatty girlishness (which never seemed to go anywhere to me, no offense). Neither really appealed, but having to choose…I went for the male approach. It worked in a way, until I got fed up. I got fed up with having to push myself and force myself. I got fed up with not being able to naturally excel at something which seemed to come so naturally to men. I didn’t care about being sporty anymore. I just wanted to feel good in my body, and I wanted a new workout that would be relaxing, that is, truly enjoyable.
I discovered that my biggest impediment to a healthy body and being was stress. So, obviously, stress would be the thing to avoid in a work-out. I still didn’t like typically girly stuff like ballet and aerobics either, and for a while it seemed there was nothing out there for me at all.
Yet, determined to find a way, I started with tai-chi. Of all the movement ‘stuff’ out there, tai-chi has relaxation as its prime goal. I started hatha yoga, which is about strength and stretching. I tried different kinds of dance: zumba (because it’s fun) and bellydance ( because it’s different). None of these was quite what I was searching for but they all had elements of what felt right. (sorting that out took a while)
In the end, my work-out has become a mix of all of these. In bellydance, there are great isolation-routines in which you exercise very specific muscles. Not unimportantly, bellydance is specifically designed for the female body. (that’s not to say men don’t bellydance, but there is a difference). Bellydance has helped me strengthen and become aware of muscles I never consciously felt before. The trick for me was finding a style and bellydance music that I find inspiring (for again, there are many frilly styles that I personally abhor). The most important thing though is that, it is so easy to relax into and enjoy! Hurray! And I feel like a natural woman doing it :)
Tai-chi has taught me the mind-set to work-out in a conscious and relaxing way. It has taught me focus, good breathing, taking your time and the (health)benefit of doing anything slowly. The whole theory on which it is built is inspiring and helpful. However, too much tai-chi makes me feel like an old chinese man (especially with some of the typical tai-chi music, ugh!) so I limit tai-chi to once a week.
Yoga taught me to accept and breathe through pain in a gentle way. Yet, a purely yoga work-out is very boring and uninspiring to me and quite frankly, too taxing on my body.
So, at home, I do a simple yoga warm-up and cooldown and then practice bellydance and various other dances as I feel like it. I use dvd’s cause then I get to decide what to do and what not to do and I don’t have to think while I’m doing it. I also avoid the extra stress of getting to a class in time, having to fit into the group tempo…and on dvd, I get to replay the instruction as much as I need. No need to push myself, no social pressure, noone is watching. Inbetween I can get a drink, go to the loo, pet the cat, whatever. Finally, a work-out that’s all about me!
I could never manage all that with any more stressful workout, but seeing that I found something my body loves, well, not doing it is actually harder.
Here’s what I learned:
-I like not having to think about what I do too much. So a good teacher that talks me through the exercise is necessary.
-Initially, when learning something completely new I need a live teacher to correct me and give me personal tips. Once I’ve got the basics, I can pretty much teach myself as long as I have good instructions.
– When learning something new or doing a work-out all kinds of distractions get in my way, so I prefer a peaceful setting.
– I need detailed and precise instruction, otherwise I get frustrated
– Getting to a class adds stress to my life
– A pleasant room, smell, light, music etc are all essential to how a work-out feels to me.
– I get nervous and self-conscious when someone watches me, so I perform best when alone
– I work-out for me, and not to socialize (although socializing is an added bonus)
– I like to do work-outs that don’t require special clothing
– I like work-outs that have a goal other than just “working-out”, there needs to be a playful element
– My daily needed balance between wanting to learn new things and following a familiar routine varies
The work-out I like in the morning is very different (usually less creative) than what I’d need at the end of the day (when I like to improvise and do new things)
– On hot days I need a mild work-out, on cold days a more vigorous one.
– I get the most benefit from working out almost daily, so that I don’t feel like it’s a drag or an obligation, yet that it is often enough to feel the benefits and slip into a certain ease and grace.
What are the things you need? What is your list of requirements? If you had a HSPersonal Trainer, then what kind of work-out would you come up with?
Too many work-outs sell themselves based on mysterious averages. No one fits the average. Trying to fit the average ideal doesn’t do justice to you or your body. A workout should be inspiring, relaxing, invigorating and whatever you need it to be! Enjoy :)
P.S. Here are some of the dvd’s I like – and still like after a year:
Fransini Giraldo’s “Samba Body”. It’s a very gentle continuous workout and don’t worry, she’s wearing a basic fitness outfit for the exercise programme, not a thong :)