I once saw a naturopath who told me that given my O blood type, that is was essential for me to break a sweat every day in order to feel my best. I reluctantly and very briefly followed her recommendation, but then quickly returned to my old habit of long walks and kundalini yoga, neither of which caused me to perspire. I just was very resistant to pushing myself physically.
I clearly recognized that my lack of vigorous exercise was not serving me, and knew that I really should get my heart rate up, in addition to doing strength training. This uncomfortable state of knowing that I needed to do something, but feeling unable to motivate myself to make a change, persisted for over six months. Every morning I would wake up and think about it, but took no action. It was making me increasingly anxious to contemplate my inevitable downward slide. I was acutely aware that with aging, my body would be less and less forgiving of my neglect.
Thankfully something finally shifted and I joined a gym in West Newton, Massachusetts called “Gymnasium”. Its tag line is “Inspired Perspiration”. The owner is a thoughtful guy in his late 30’s, Josh Conway, who looks more like a dancer than a weight lifter. He is long and lean, has a pony tail and is super strong.
There are several options at Gymnasium, including group classes with up to 15 people, small groups with up to 6 people and private sessions. The philosophy of movement is somewhere between MovNat and Cross Fit, but adapted to all body types and ages, not just for the super athletic.
I elected to do the small group classes. Though they are hard, they are also really fun. They remind me of a beloved game that I invented for my kids when they were small, which I called “Obstacle Course”. Obstacle Course was played as follows: one person would demonstrate a series of movements, and then the others had to imitate the sequence. For instance, first rolling over the couch, then hopping from one pillow to the next, then twirling, then hula hooping, and finally somersaulting.
The classes at Gymnasium are amazingly similar to Obstacle Course, and different every time; crawling, throwing, lifting, running, jumping, rolling, balancing, climbing, squatting, swinging, punching, and kicking, to name a few of the moves. It’s very challenging, but the atmosphere is not competitive and there is a sense of camaraderie, good will and often great music from the early 70’s that reminds me of being a teenager. Most people exercise barefoot. It is recommended to participate three times a week to increase fitness. I feel so relieved to have finally found a solution to my inability to motivate myself to exercise on my own.
I asked Josh if he knew of gyms in other parts of the country which are similar to Gymnasium, but he was reticent to recommend specific places without having personally experiencing them. He said that he knew that many have elements of what we do at Gymnasium, but ultimately suggested looking outside of the big box chain gyms for small independent studios run by trainers who are passionate and dedicated to their mission and craft.
Another thing that I started doing recently was working with a well designed App called “From Couch to 5K” It’s a free download from the iTunes store and is intended to gradually increase your capacity to run 3 miles over the course of 8 weeks, with three times weekly sessions.
I am feeling so much more vital since sweating regularly. I have no idea if what the naturopath said about O Blood types is true, but I think it probably applies to most of us. Unless you deliberately set an intention to move, it’s entirely possible in our culture to get almost no exercise whatsoever, unless your job is as a laborer. Please know that I am not suggesting running marathons, which is very hard on your immune system, or any other kind of over the top exercise regime. But I do think that many of my readers would feel better if they could figure out a fun and sustainable way to break a sweat several times a week.