In the 1980s, amid the workout madness of Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons, the well-known saying “no pain, no gain” became popular. In her iconic workout videos, Fonda was known to use the buzzword along with other infamous phrases like “feel the burn” as she guided viewers through strenuous squats and aerobic combinations. While these phrases were meant to be encouraging, they contained the idea that there is great pain and stress to be endured in order to receive the ultimate reward. And for decades after the era laden with sweatbands, mottos like this have determined how many people see and exercise health. More recently, however, a gentler, more holistic approach to fitness has emerged that challenges all of the old principles. Sorry jane
Perhaps it’s the past year indoors that has resulted in individuals becoming more attuned to their minds and bodies. Or maybe the health and wellness sector is just evolving into a softer, more accessible reality. Whatever the reason, there is a change in tone in the fitness world that is calling people to relax emotionally and have fun. “If you focus too much on the vanity of fitness (a bigger butt, a six pack, or thinner thighs) the experience becomes hollow,” says Cassey Ho, fitness influencer and creator of the Blogilates Lifestyle section. A quick scroll through the brand’s Instagram account and you’ll see that Ho doesn’t take himself or her practice too seriously. Along with quick and easy workout tips and techniques, you’ll find light-hearted memes that poke fun at common health and fitness myths. “From personal experience, too much focus on physical performance can only lead to body dysmorphism. It becomes a much more meaningful journey when you can focus on finding the joy of exercising and the joy of preparing your healthy meals. “
The workout guru who designed her healthy living, eating and fitness platform as a space for devotees to “have fun” said she has had her own problems with body problems and unhealthy beliefs about exercise. “At one point in my fitness journey, I became obsessed with making my body look a certain way,” says Ho. “My efforts have been so in vain. When I couldn’t achieve my physical goals, training took all the fun out of me. It burned me out and made me not move. It took me a while to heal my relationship with my body and fitness. The healing started when I moved my energy from looking good to feeling good. That brought back the joy of my relationship with fitness.
Ahead of us, TZR is breaking open the holistic approach to fitness that grips the nation and the brands and educators who lead the indictment.
The Holistic Approach to Fitness: Heal Both the Mind and the Body
“My class at SoulCycle was about more than just the physical from the start,” says Ross Ramone, SoulCycle Instructor on the Equinox + app. For 15 years, the SoulCycle brand has been transforming stationary indoor cycling into a dance party on wheels that makes music, movement and emotions an active part of the entire experience. Instead of focusing on things like heart rate, calories burned, and miles logged, the instructors encourage individuals to just give themselves what they need, whatever that may be. “So many times have I found that what’s true on a bike is true in life and that the bike can serve as a powerful metaphor,” explains Ramone. “With every class I teach – whether in a SoulCycle studio or on Equinox + – my goal is to provide riders with a safe space where they can feel what they need to heal, things let go of those who complain and step into their courage, one brave choice after another. You will get a great workout; But you will also strengthen the muscles that you cannot see – the ones that get you through life. “
The holistic fitness approach: set realistic expectations
Indeed, a critical component to holistic fitness is the reformulation of ideals that were once focused on physical transformation and a “thin is in” mentality. This approach is not only outdated but often unrealistic, says Jeanette DePatie, licensed fitness trainer and plus size trainer. “Most people won’t drastically change the look of their bodies with moderate exercise,” explains DePatie. “So if you build up the idea that they don’t look okay now but look okay after your workout, tell them something is wrong with them and promise that it will be fixed after your class. Do you know what happens when students think they’ll look completely different after six weeks and then they won’t? You feel like a failure. You are not having fun. You give up. “
The instructor explains that the key to making fitness a long-term goal is to make it sustainable and natural to suit your specific needs and interests. “I really believe that not only should exercise be fun, but it should also help you do all the other things in your life that you would like to do,” says DePatie. “In my class’s success stories, not many students have held up pants to show how many inches or pounds they have lost. Science shows that a great many people who lose a lot of weight will gain weight again over time. My student success stories are people who can go back dancing with their spouse or bring the grandchildren back to Disneyland. Some of my biggest success stories are college students who just find it easier to get in and out of a car or grocery store, walk their dogs, and be more independent. “
The holistic fitness approach: Ditch The Shame & Guilt
Sadie Lincoln, co-founder and CEO of the Barre3 National Barre Gym, says that the group exercise tradition has for too long been about “getting somewhere or getting a result or afterimage and doing it like everyone else is doing “. This unified template is exactly what Lincoln wanted to reduce with the creation of brands like Barre3. “We want to empower people to take up the idea of training instead and do exactly what their body needs right now.”
The instructor says she saw too many people anchor the exercises to be ashamed and not feel good enough. “I think we were taught that fitness looks a certain way and that we need to be there to be sexy, to win, to be attractive, to be successful,” says Lincoln.
How can one dispel such ingrained beliefs? According to Lincoln, everything is in the power of modification. “At Barre3 we address two things, the first is pain,” she explains. “We take out negative pain with modifications. And then we fight the shame – we unlearn this conditioning. “While the first component is encouraging participants to listen to their bodies and modify their movements and workouts to avoid discomfort and stress, the latter component – which focuses on reducing shame – is a bit more abstract. “A lot of this is done through language,” says Lincoln. “You’ll never hear us say, ‘We’re training this muscle so you can have flat, lean abs and prepare for bikini season.’ We will instead say things like, “Notice how strong you feel in the center of your body. The core of your being becomes stronger.” Think about how different these two messages are. ”
The holistic approach to fitness: becoming vulnerable
Taryn Toomey, creator of The Class (who counts celebs like Naomi Watts as avid fans), said she developed the mat-based and music-powered “cathartic” training to strengthen the body and notice the mind to restore balance. “We repeat one movement per song to create a sensation in the body and observe our thoughts,” says Toomey. “In each class, students can expect guided lessons and a carefully compiled playlist that guides them through familiar exercises such as squats, jumping jacks, and burpees. The result is mental clarification and emotional release. Through continuous practice, students develop tools to strengthen their lives along with an incredibly strong, resilient body. “
The instructor says she has seen an increasing desire and curiosity for “self-actualization and balance of body and mind as a refutation of the chaos of the outside world”. Rather than preaching to the audience, the instructors “make room” for the class for vulnerability and liberation however it manifests (tears, joy, frustration, etc.). “I think you have to approach things that feel authentic and are connected to the source of your heart and soul,” says Toomey. “The beauty of The Class is that if you don’t want to do any of it, you don’t have to do anything and still get great workout. We practice embodiment, the antidote to separation. We practice life. It’s going to be difficult. It will be easy. It’s going to be difficult. It will be easy. Then it feels like freedom. “
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