We all go through periods in our life when exercise isn’t our top priority… and that’s okay! Maybe you have a new little one to take care of, work is taking over, or 24 hours just isn’t seeming like enough time in the day anymore. Maintaining that work-life balance can be tricky, and sacrifices often have to be made. But, if you’re deciding to take the leap and want to get back into fitness, we’re here for you. Whether it’s been months or years, there are some important factors to consider when returning to exercise.
Here are our top 5 tips to help ease you back into your fitness journey:
- Slow and steady wins the race
If you used to work out every day (maybe even busted out back-to-back classes) but have taken a significant break, it isn’t ideal to immediately jump straight back into your old routine. You may have undergone significant changes since you were last exercising regularly, especially if you are returning post-partum, or from an injury. And let’s be real, as much as we’d all kill to look like we did in our 20’s, we have grown and matured significantly and we have to accommodate these changes. Your body at any size, shape or age is deserving of love and care, and making the necessary changes to support it doesn’t make you unfit or unhealthy; it simply means your fitness routine is growing and changing with you. So, don’t feel pressured to dive head-first into an old regime that may no longer be right for you. Forcing yourself will not yield better results.
Start off with 1 or 2 classes each week, and slowly build up from there as you get used to exercising again and your muscle memory returns. Not only will your body thank you, but you have a much higher chance of sticking to your fitness routine when it’s manageable and enjoyable. According to a 2016 study, how much you enjoy exercising is one of the biggest factors in determining whether you will stick with it (i)… and let’s be real, it’s much harder to enjoy a class when you’re forcing yourself to attend it.
- Don’t be afraid to try something new.
You may find that the class styles you used to love no longer serve you either. That’s not to say you should ditch your old faves, especially at Aleenta where all of our classes are easily modifiable to support any changes you may have undergone. However, particularly as we age, we have different fitness needs. For example, as we get older our bone and muscle strength deteriorates. According to Harvard University:
“sarcopenia—defined as age-related muscle loss—can begin at around age 35 and occurs at a rate of 1-2 percent a year for the typical person. After age 60, it can accelerate to 3 percent a year.”(ii)
I love this stat. Well, I hate it actually, as it’s extremely depressing. But it’s a great stat to know and identify how to overcome it. So, to help combat this muscle loss, it’s important to incorporate strength training into your routine. A Barre.Strong class is a great option for adding exercises with weights at your own pace. Alternatively, if you’re returning to class after giving birth, and Pilates was not your previous go-to, you may want to look into a mat or Reformer class to begin rebuilding your core strength. Want more info on the benefits of strength training? Check out this blog.
- Consider consulting with a health professional
Especially if you’re returning to fitness post-partum or with a recovering injury, it’s a good idea to consult with a health professional on what will be best for you. Doctors and physiotherapists can advise what exercises may be a no-go: you can then relay this information to your Aleenta instructor, and we can easily accommodate you with the necessary modifications. If there is anything specific going on like a slipped spinal disc, the more detail we have the better we can tailor our classes to you. Of course, you only need to disclose what you feel comfortable sharing.
- Try a private class
It can be daunting stepping back into a room full of #barrebosses after being away. At Aleenta, our instructors are always keeping an eye out during class, offering individual encouragement and corrections. However, we understand that you may want to receive more personal guidance in a private setting. Private classes are available with several of our instructors, and our Physio-instructor extraordinaire Ellie can also be consulted if you have rehabilitative needs and she can develop an exercise plan or work with you to increase your strength post-injury. Feel free to reach out for a private class by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org ☺
- Listen to your body, and ask for help
One of the most important aspects when returning to exercise is remaining intuitive to your body and its needs. If a movement is painful, inaccessible, too fast, or even if you just need a break, always let your instructor know. We would much rather you take a break during abs or do push-ups at the barre and leave class with a smile than push yourself too hard. If you are unsure about a movement, try some of the following questions:
“Am I supposed to be feeling this exercise in my ______?”
“This exercise isn’t comfortable for me. Can I try something else?”
“I can’t get into this position. Is there an alternative?”
With these basic questions, instructors can always follow up and have a quick conversation to find the best modification for you. It’s better to ease in than thrash your body, so while it may feel discouraging to modify, know that you are doing yourself a favour. We promise, the instructors and your fellow classmates are not judging you. it’s more important to us that you feel comfortable and can keep moving. Modifying does not mean you are taking the easy way out: you are still completing the exercise and moving your joints and muscles in a beneficial way. And you’ll still see results. And overtime, you will see yourself building strength and stamina, to the point where you no longer need the modification. We started this list with it, and we’ll say it again: slow and steady wins the race!
Written by Sascha Czuchwicki
(i) Lewis BA, Williams DM, Frayeh A, Marcus BH. Self-efficacy versus perceived enjoyment as predictors of physical activity behaviour. Psychol Health. 2016;31(4):456-69. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2015.1111372. Epub 2015 Nov 18. PMID: 26541890; PMCID: PMC4769927.
(ii) The President and Fellows of Harvard College. Age and muscle loss. 11 November 2021. 24 July 2022. <https://www.health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/age-and-muscle-loss>.