Has your gym, studio or exercise facility closed?
Depending on where you are in the world in recent weeks you probably had the exercise rug pulled from under you. This may not be a bad thing at the moment, because life has gone from stressful to haywire and then stressful again — in a completely different way. As we navigate our capacity to cope and deal with the range of emotions, you’ll be forgiven if exercise is the last thing on your mind, and the first thing to be shelved.
I’m highly motivated to exercise, and always have been. I left school to start aerobics classes at my local dance studio in Scotland, because, at the time, a dance studio was the only place that offered this type of movement. Activewear was not a thing and neither was getting new trainers every few months. It was more lycra, leotards, legwarmers and jazz shoes! Fast forward to two weeks ago and I did not want to move my body at all. I had no energy. I was lethargic and didn’t’ know what I wanted to do. It was like being 14 years old all over again! Then a friend on social media shared an article by Aisha S. Ahmad and it shifted my thinking about the world.
From lethargic to being a little less lethargic
Aisha Ahman is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto. She was asked to write a piece on her experiences of adapting to conditions of crisis, having worked in conditions of war, violent conflict, poverty and disaster in many places around the world. For me, and after reading her article, these were the key points that made the shift from fight or flight to a more relaxed response, in relation to moving my body. I wanted to share the key takeaways with you.
Stage 1 - In the first days and weeks of a crisis, allow for mental adjustment. Focus on food, family, friends and maybe fitness.
Stage 2 - Once you are secure, your body and mind will adjust and you will crave challenges are that more demanding.
Stage 3 - Embrace a new normal, and on this side of normal, your brain and body will be waiting for you. When the foundations are strong, build a weekly schedule that prioritises your tribe. Carve out time for different areas of your life. Getting back into fitness will be easier at this stage.
And I love this statement: “understand this is a marathon. If you sprint at the beginning, you will vomit on your shoes by the end of the month”. No-one wants vomit on their shoes.!
Link to full article here
Norman Vincent Peale, best known for popularising the concept of positive thinking in his best-selling book, The Power of Positive Thinking, said:- “Learn to relax. Your body is precious, as it houses your mind and spirit. Inner peace begins with a relaxed body”.
Wherever you are in your movement practice during this time, remember the cause and effect of the “chicken and egg”. Recently, science has begun to recognise the powerful connections between mental and physical health; however, in my case, in order to start moving my body again during this stressful time, I needed to get my mind around what was happening in my world before dealing with my body.
If you’re struggling with whether you should move or not, ponder these points:
- Where are you in the stages outlined above?
- Are you at the point where you can schedule fitness into your life?
- Does your body need a different exercise modality?
Exercise can improve your ability to sleep. It can relieve tension, stabilise your mood and improve self-esteem, and even short periods of time moving your body can make all the difference. And there’s also the immune system boosting benefits of exercise which, in light of current circumstances, can’t be dismissed lightly.
Pilates is a gentle, yet effective way to move your body. You’ll sculpt lean muscle, lose body fat and relieve stress. Interested in trying it out? Kensho Boutique Pilates is running complimentary online classes every week.