EXERCISING YOUR OPTIONS

Why dedication to a single exercise discipline (yoga, cycling, weight training, or just about anything else) isn’t healthy— and how holistic fitness programs can leave you happier and healthier in less time.

For some people, “working out” means lifting weights (preferably heavy ones); for others, cycling classes (preferably to exhaustion); yet others, yoga or pilates (nothing too strenuous).

Each and every one of these disciplines has its benefits. But also, if practiced exclusively, its drawbacks—primarily involving mechanical strain, adaptational failure, and/or constitutional imbalance/instability.

On the other hand, by mixing and matching approaches, individuals can achieve superior and more sustainable results, all the while saving time and minimizing injury.

As one goes back and forth from strenuous sessions to restorative ones and back again, one gets to know one’s own body—its strengths, weaknesses, and imbalances. One also trains and develops parts of the body—genes, neurons, muscles, hormones, ligaments, and more—in a thorough manner only cross-training can provide. But where to begin—and how to progress?

At ARM Systems of Milton, Ontario, Canada, coaches, trainers, and instructors are mandated to design, develop, and deliver programmes that consider and address all aspects of physical fitness:the mechanical (size, shape, and strength); the adaptational (speed, stamina, and agility); and the constitutional (harmony, stability, and flexibility); plus (if desired/necessary) specialized techniques and/or technologies to help clients achieve specific medical, personal, athletic, and/or professional results.

To be clear, if one were to review these concepts and categories with a clinician or practitioner, they might get critiqued as inexact and/or over-simplified. (In reality, kettlebell drills train for strength as well as stamina, only to a lesser degree. Hot yoga trains for stamina as well as stability, also/only to a lesser degree. So on and so forth.)

On the other hand, when compared to the fitness industry’s big-box, mass-market offerings, these same concepts and categories might be viewed as somewhat theoretical and/ or over-complicated. (It’s rare to find exercise authorities so insistent upon training posture, breathing, and other subtle nuances.) ARM’s middle- ground approach seeks to achieve balance between these extremes—with design, language, and technology that can help anyone become (and remain) fit, well, and vital.

MECHANICAL EXERCISE FOR SIZE, SHAPE, STRENGTH

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THE MOVE: One to three times per week, in the context of an intelligently and result-oriented programme, partake in classic weight training. Noted styles include body building, power lifting, and circuit training.

THE VIBE: Often practiced solo or as half of a duo. Look for coaches, trainers, and instructors who are intense—but not militaristic. No threats. No insults. Nothing dangerous.

THE RESULT: A body that looks the way you want it to—one that’s fit, trim, solid, and ready to take on the world—so that you can manage the strains and stresses of day-to-day life.

ADAPTATIONAL EXERCISE FOR SPEED, STAMINA, AGILITY

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THE MOVE: One to three times per week, bust a move, break a sweat, and challenge your limits with experiences that keep you moving—even when you don’t know what’s next. Options include: boot camps; martial arts; body-weight circuits; and club- and kettlebell drills

THE VIBE: Often practiced in a duo or small group. You want to feel excited, exhilarated, full of confidence and self-esteem— eventually. At first, though, you may feel taxed, confused, maybe even a bit scattered. That’s OK; you’ll adapt.

THE RESULT: Energy. Vitality. A certain springiness that, once you achieve, you won’t know how to live without.

CONSTITUTIONAL EXERCISE FOR HARMONY, STABILITY, FLEXIBILITY

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THE MOVE: One to three times per week, work on those more subtle (but oh-so-important) aspects of physical fitness: breath, posture, balance, coordination, and so much more. Modalities—yoga, pilates, meditation, suspension training, et cetera—range from the restorative to the shockingly robust.

THE VIBE: Often practiced in medium- to large-sized groups. Hot yoga, whenever available, promotes digestion and detoxification especially well. Don’t diminish the value of softer, more “yin” (or restorative) sessions every once in a while. They’re essential to emotional and neurological health.

THE RESULT: Stronger core, faster recovery, deeper sleep, better range of motion, reduced anxiety/tension/nervousness and—oh, yes—total bliss.

KEYSTONE HABITS—BECOMING A DIETER THROUGH EXERCISE

Over the years of being a personal trainer a pattern has come to light with our most successful clients – if they exercise 3 times or more per week their diets improve, they stop smoking and they reduce their consumption of alcohol; the inverse however is not true, those who fix their diets, quit smoking or reduce drinking do not spontaneously start exercising.

This is significant because when it comes to improving the quality of life, correcting nutritional habits is a bigger player than exercise. If you want to reduce body fat, which is associated with reduced risks of most illnesses, diet is a lot more effective at achieving this than exercise. For example many forms of cancer are associated with poor dietary choices and the debilitating effects of diabetes can be severely reduced by cessation of sugar in all forms.

However, bang for your buck, working out 3 times a week or more will contribute more to improving your health and health related behaviors than just trying to fix your diet alone IN SPITE of the fact that fixing your diet is actually what will help you the most. This occurs because working out 3 times a week causes you to fix your diet.

Exercise is special because it is a keystone habit – a keystone is the center stone in an arch, the final stone to be placed and the one that holds the entire arch together. Exercise serves this function when it comes to living the healthiest and the highest quality life possible. It teaches our body and brain that actions matter and this creates the momentum needed to start caring about the consequences of other actions. Those who exercise more, eat better, drink more water, sleep better, smoke and drink less, have better sex, make better decisions and save more money.

Quitting smoking, improving one’s diet, or reducing alcohol consumption, while all critical in improving the quality of life, do not play a keystone function with regards to behavior. As such, they rely on will power to maintain and tend not be self-sustainable over the first few weeks or months. Relapse tends of occur when routines are disrupted or when one is challenged outside of their normal day-to-day events. Furthermore, cessation of anything that relies on willpower alone tends to be associated with higher levels of stress which itself increases the risk of failure.

Improving your life without starting an exercise routine is possible, but it is much more challenging and relies on the creation of new habits that are rewarding in the long run but represent short term sacrifices. This is unlike exercise because exercise is rewarding almost immediately, and in the long term the benefits are undeniable.

To this end, it really doesn’t make a lot of sense for someone who is over the age of 35 to try and address their weight concerns through diet alone. In fact, the best thing they can do to improve their diet is to exercise more. Frankly, the best thing they can do to improve any aspect of their life is to exercise more.

It doesn’t take much. 3 hours of moderately intense exercise each week will quickly begin to reverse some of the signs of aging on the body and begin to motivate your brain to correct other habits that are not working for you.

Get out there and start moving more! Join a gym, start play a sport you love, take-up cycling. It doesn’t matter what you do so long as you get moving. Do it for a few weeks and notice the positive changes in other all the other areas of your life.