Keep it fun, keep it fit

Keep it fun, keep it fit

 Does making it extreme make it better? Certainly not, writes Anjali Sareen. When it comes to fitness, there’s no perfect solution; another person’s ‘ideal’ workout program may not necessarily be the right fit for you. 

A fitness program, I believe, should be fun. Yes, of course, it needs to be effective, for without results there would be no point in doing it. But why has it become so ‘all or nothing’? Why do we feel that unless exercise is really hard and leaves us feeling totally exhausted and drained out, it will not beeffective?

In recent times there seems to be an alarming trend whereby unless there’s pain, pools of sweat and you are literally dropping to the floor in a worn out heap, it appears that you haven’t pushed yourself to get a really good workout. There’s a fine line between pushing yourself and over-training. 

It used to be simpler. And I think it should still be so. By simpler I don’t mean less or traditional. There is so much that has been added to this field by way of research and studies. The benefits of which should definitely be reflected in our choice of fitness routines. 

Extreme fitness programs

The new trend of fitness programs is all about offering workouts that have you pushing yourself towards what can only be considered, in most cases, reckless limits in terms of intensity and effort. I always encourage people to work past their comfort zone to make their fitness programs show results. 

But really, that would be true for just about anything. Unless we push ourselves past routine or basic effort we will not get ahead. However, why is it that the goals need to be so very extreme, as can be seen in many fitness classes being conducted across gyms and clubs? I talk about classes where it is considered a badge of honour, indicating how hard you worked out, if you left the room needing to throw up or fall down in a heap on the class floor.

Intensity within reason

What are these programs that are marketed with an intention to push you to extreme lengths where you workout till you drop, or can finish a crazy number of repetitions of an exercise, or swing impossibly heavy weights, meant to prove? 

Unless I’m missing the point and these are meant as contests of strength and/or willpower. Even if that were the case, why does the average person need these extreme workouts as part of their fitness program? To be able to say that I did ‘x’ number of repetitions more than the other guy? Definitely there is nothing like some healthy competition to bring forth that extra effort, but the operative word would be ‘healthy’.

Sacrificing good form and safety  

In such classes, the instructor, as well as the participants, would be hard pressed to maintain good form, along with using right techniques to squat, lunge, lift, etc. Also, instructors may not show the caution required to choose class participants according to fitness levels and abilities. So, for example, if you have not been doing much in terms of working out, but allow yourself to be convinced by your friend to try this ‘super workout’ that he does at his gym, you could walk away with an injury or completely de-motivated at your lack of fitness because you could not ‘keep up’ with the class. There have also been some serious health risks reported worldwide, due to the extreme nature of such workouts.

Fitness should be fun

Why should you place so much pressure on yourself even when working out? Are you telling yourself that your sense of self-worth is determined by the number of squats, push ups, or pounds that you can lift? And if you can’t keep up then you’re just not good enough? Today, you look at mind-body fitness because you want to de-stress from the pressures of daily life. So when you head for your workout, you want to do so with enthusiasm. And, in the same way, be able to walk out feeling energised, not worn out. You may want the results from having done a tough session. But you should also be able to enjoy the process without worrying about keeping up or feeling frustrated at not having done so.

The ‘ideal’ workout?

It is important to remember that just because a program is touted as being an internationally-acclaimed workout or has hit the popularity charts, it may not be the right routine for you. We engage in a fitness program to become fitter, healthier, and feel better about ourselves, to enjoy a better quality of life. 

To be able to do the things that leave us feeling energised, not leave us walking around exhausted, sore and hurting. There is no one perfect workout that is going to get you there and another person’s ‘ideal’ workout program may not necessarily be the right fit for you. 

At the end of the day, do remember it is your body and no one will care more for it than you. So listen to it. Make your body and mind feel good – stronger, happier and energised! 

(The writer is a fitness expert and co-founder of The Zone Mind and Body Studio, Bangalore)

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