By Tyler Hurst.
Post-holidays can be tough. The weather isn’t always the best, many of us are recovering from not-so-great food and drink choices, and our routines get knocked out of whack – preventing us from sustaining our usual healthy lifestyles.
As a former runner who prefers NOT to run outside in the dark of winter, I’m always looking for alternatives to help get me through the doldrums of January. Fortunately, here in Arizona indoor options abound and, with a little work, I was able to find two options that helped both my physical and mental health.
Yoga was first. I hopped on YouTube, searched for some simple Sun A and Sun B salutations, added Dancing Warrior in the middle and sandwiched it all with some short warmup and longer cool-down stretches.
Week 1 – Yoga
On Day 1, I had trouble getting my mind into the flow. My 45-minute session felt much longer, as I kept having to pause the video when I’d space out. Day 2 brought more of the same, along with a curious tightness I wasn’t used to. And then it hit me — it wasn’t warm enough in my house. I’d long been practicing yoga at Sutra Studios, and hadn’t realized the other people (or at least their energy!) would be missed. I turned the thermostat up a few degrees and changed into tights and, on Day 3, my mind stayed in the moment, not drifting as much as the previous two days. Day 4 was a breakthrough, as I was able to get through the entire set in 45 minutes without a single pause. Days 5-7 were more of the same, and each felt like I’d just taken a brisk walk outside, except I was wearing far less clothing and was much warmer.
Next up was kickboxing. Sanabul Sports provided me with PAW v.2 Gel Cross Training Handwrap Gloves, a fingerless model that squeezed my hands slightly while also providing a bit of padding.
PAW v.2 Gel Cross Training Handwrap Gloves
Gel Boxing Kickboxing Training Gloves
Then I slid both hands into Sanabul’s Essential Gel Boxing Kickboxing Training Gloves, walked up one floor to my apartment gym with a heavy bag, and pretended I was a kickboxer. I have never been taught how to kick anything but a soccer ball, but I do know how to protect my face, jab, and hook (thanks to Vin Vallejo at Pro Fitness AZ in Tempe and Gilbert) so I concentrated more on boxing than kicking.
Week 1 – Kickboxing
On Day 1, I went through the motions, focusing on form, and set a goal of being able to kick the heavy bag without falling over. My urge to flail my arms wildly and kick with all my might outweighed any sort of common sense approach I had going into it. I let go a little bit on Day 2, and Day 3 made me wish I hadn’t. Sore feet and stiff ankles greeted me the morning of Days 3 and 4, but reverting back to my Day 1 approach helped alleviate much of that discomfort. By Day 5 I noticed my energy levels increased right after my workout, and while kickboxing didn’t instill a sense of calm like yoga did, it helped me feel a lot more productive. The extra cardio kick also made me regret all the sweets I’d indulged in over the holidays, far more than the yoga session did. Days 6 and 7 had me focusing mostly on quick jabs, slow hooks, and really slow kicks, and I felt pretty balanced.
To my surprise, I enjoyed both yoga and kickboxing. The slow movements of yoga brought me calmness and flexibility, while the more aggressive kickboxing raised my energy levels and gave me a mood boost. My 2019 goal is now to incorporate both into my routine. I encourage anyone looking to feel better to try yoga and kickboxing for the physical and mental health benefits, and for a more sustainable you.
For more information or to sign up for one of their many membership deals, check out https://www.sutrastudios.com.
For information on personal training, see http://profitnessaz.com.
Tyler Hurst is a freelance writer, almost a yoga instructor, and podcast host living in Phoenix. His work has appeared in alternative weekly Willamette Week and the Burning Bush podcast, as well as kontakt, CIDERCRAFT, and DOPE magazines.