This year, before committing to old-fashioned exercise resolutions, why not embrace a whole new kind of fitness? In an informal survey of healthy people across the country, I discovered the practice of “Holistic Fitness” is overtaking standard American exercise – the kind often practiced in factory-style gyms. Holistic fitness suggests training the whole person both inside and out. It’s a way to have fun with your new regime.
Here are the ways this conscious approach to sports and exercise are showing up:
Select Equipment Wisely
Seeing a garage full of unused or broken exercise machines is depressing. To avoid this, the mindfully fit make conscious choices about equipment and gear. If they own stationary indoor equipment, they make sure to use and maintain it. As for gear, they forgo contraptions and stick to essentials. Their entire kit may be limited to a pair of sneakers, a yoga mat, swim goggles and a bicycle.
Choose Pleasure Over Punishment
Shelley Burke of Carbondale, Colorado, makes a common-sense point that is especially true for seniors. “Exercise that pushes you to the point where you don’t like it anymore is not productive,” Burke says. She does a simple stretching routine each morning and takes a water aerobics class three times a week. “It gets my heart rate up and I enjoy it.”
Embrace Tech in Moderation
Mindful exercisers make technology a servant, not a master. Susan and Ray Miller track their sleep with the Oura Ring, a product that gives them a multitude of measurables – such as sleep quality and 24/7 heart rate monitoring. They track steps with their iPhones, and Miller uses All Trails for measuring hiking and biking performance. But how would they feel about being plugged into an electronic treadmill, while staring at a TV screen? In a word, “Torture.”
To what do the NBA’s LeBron James and the NFL’s Tom Brady attribute their 20-year professional careers? In addition to sleep, massage, and bodywork, both men say downtime is as important as working out. This way of thinking is embraced at Motion Lab, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based gym that makes recovery part of the program. Motion Lab clients may spend as much time massaging their muscles as building them. Members say it avoids “over-training nonsense.”
Involve the Outdoors
One tactic stood out above all others: “green exercise,” – movement in nature. Research suggests that the stress reduction and mood boosters of exercising outdoors surpasses what indoor exercise can offer. For avid cyclist Ron Wagner, that means long rides on either a road bike or mountain bike around his Reston, Virginia community.
His partner, Beth English, prefers walking, and doesn’t let cold weather stop her. “The benefits are innumerable. In addition to increasing my endorphins and moving my body, I love the discoveries that nature provides each day,” English says. With her phone, she’ll snap pictures of nature and wildlife along the way. “In less than an hour, I have opened my heart, improved my health and cleared my head.”
This year, rather than committing to losing a few pounds or doing a few push ups, let’s consider resolving to incorporate these principles into our fitness. Ditch the shame and the guilt, set realistic expectations for yourself, and find ways to heal the mind as well as the body.
Dennis Andres is a writer, speaker and adventure guide in Sedona, Arizona. He has hiked more than 5,000 miles in Red Rock country. He is also the author of , “What Is A Vortex?” and the award-winning, “Sedona’s Top Ten Hikes.”