A little history
I’m a 51 year old woman who’s been an avid, regular exerciser since her early 20s, one who is also leaner, lighter and tighter than in high school, with a body fat percentage of about 19%. Not that being thin is what I consider the most important aspect of fitness! This is merely a declaration that I know what I’m doing, when it comes to keeping myself in shape.
In my opinion, the trifecta of physical fitness is composed of three elements: strength, endurance and flexibility. If you’re good on all these and have a reasonable diet, you’re highly likely to be a healthy weight. My own dietary rules are pretty simple.
- Don’t stuff yourself all the time. Most often, eat until you’re satisfied and then stop.
- Especially don’t pig out at night.
- If you start to feel a little pudgy, wear some tight jeans, and two or three days that week don’t eat before lunch.
My exercise history has four distinct stages
- Exercise video aficionado.
- Gym rat.
- Devoted Ashtangi.
- Moderate soloist. I do HIIT workouts, cardio & strength, four times a week, and one full Astanga yoga practice per week. There’s my trifecta!
I started off with exercise videos that I played in my VCR – in my mid 20s, in Brooklyn, and then in my dorm-room sized studio in New York City’s East Village. I joined a gym for the very first time in my life at age 27. I went nearly every night after work for a couple hours. I’d be there even longer on weekends.
Then came a decade-long fixation with Astanga yoga. I was introduced to the poses of primary series through Beryl Bender Birch’s “Power Yoga”. Around age 31 I started taking Led Primary classes at my gym. I went two or three times a week, keeping up with the other classes I enjoyed, like spin and step.
After three or four years of mentions, one of my gym teachers finally persuaded me to try a class at a true Astanga studio. I attended a Saturday morning Led Primary & part Second Series class . This was a BFD, because at the time I was still a late-night party person, and this class started at 10am.
That first class was so hard! I’d often spend two to three hours or more, taking several classes and then stretching, during my gym rat phase. But at the beginning, this two hour yoga session required rest days both before and after! I’d been looking for the edges of my endurance and abilities at the gym, and I found those edges pretty quickly with Astanga. Eventually I started going to Mysore style practice a couple times a week. This is where everyone in the room is doing their personalized practice at their own pace, and the teacher provides physical assists and verbal commands while moving continually around the room, teaching everyone individually. Somehow, inexplicably, after mere months of this low level of commitment, I decided to quit my full-time job and make my first trip to Mysore, India. This is both the birthplace and base of Astanga yoga.
At some point, my practice began to feel like more of a burden than a blessing, and I started getting regular injuries again. I dropped the advanced series from my regular practice. Then I incurred a “first time ever”, long-lasting injury to my lower back, as a result of an expensive workshop, fall 2012. I started exploring alternative forms of exercise again. After dabbling with pricey DVD series I found what I was looking for, fall 2014, free on Youtube. This is when I discovered HIIT training. I got a jump rope and a small set of weights and I was “off”.
How do I stay motivated as a completely solo exerciser?
My personal quota for an acceptable amount of workouts per week is still the “five times” it was when I was practicing advanced yoga.
Every week I’ll have a loose idea of where my rest days will be. This gets adjusted according to how my mind and body feel. And then this blog, where I still log every workout. I’m not sure why, but keeping track of what I do really keeps me on course, even though I don’t often repeat routines that are not Astanga. I practice as a full yoga routine once or twice a week. I subscribe to a few favorite YouTube channels. I happen to love previewing WOs and do so regularly. My main channels provide breakdowns in the info section. I’ll make drafts in my blog & note what weights and equipment I’ll start off with, and I update as I go along, when actually performing the routine. I can’t believe I used to do workouts over and over again! There is a constant supply of new sets, and also opportunities to connect with others. It’s not like spending two hours or more sweating in the same room with the same set of people, but internet exercise buddies are still real.
I also like to wear a HR monitor & include my stats in my current blog posts. All the apps tend to inflate the numbers, but it helps to keep a relative idea of how hard you’re working each session.
Since I’m not trying to lose weight or bulk up, my motivations for exercise are pretty low key. I do it for the discipline and the health benefits – the strength, endurance and flexibility I mentioned earlier. Mostly though, I do it for the way it makes me feel, which is almost always, 99.99% of the time, better. I do it for the endorphins.
I’ve been told over the years my writing has helped inspire and focus others. I hope to continue doing so!