In my second installment of my self-care series, I’m sharing my favorite tips to get and stay in shape physically.
During my early college years, my attempts at working out were typically pretty mediocre. Don’t mind the math on figuring out WHEN that was, but let’s just say I would take my little portable CD player or walkman with me. The fact that I didn’t even have an iPod is indicative of a LOT. I would trudge through a few minutes on the treadmill or elliptical wearing my favorite sorority t-shirt and bootcut leggings, pretend I knew what I was doing with weights for a little bit, do a couple of sit-ups and call it a day. I don’t think you need to read between the lines to understand that my efforts were pretty much a joke. But hey, I suppose it was something!
Eventually, my love of working out caught on and I innately started to enjoy it. The summer before my senior year of college I juggled two jobs, one in retail job at the mall and another serving at the local country club. Between my 9-3P and 5-11P shifts, my hour at the gym was the only ‘me’ time I had to myself. Never mind the fact that I was able to workout in between two jobs where I stood on my feet for nearly 12 hours a day. That part makes me seethe with jealousy at the energy of my younger self. Regardless, I became hooked and it went way beyond the physical benefits. Despite having two somewhat physically demanding jobs that I worked back to back, working out was an endorphin release for me. I felt less agitated and more calm, plus toning my body actually helped with my posture and my energy levels. I also didn’t drink that summer thanks to the grueling schedule, which absolutely also contributed to my overall energy and health.
Whenever I think of what physical health means to me, as silly as it may sound, I think back to all of those years ago. I would happily jump on the treadmill, lift weights amongst the ‘guys’, do laps on the different weight machines. I really, truly enjoyed it. Although I was incredibly self-motivated back then, I need a little extra push these days and for me, that is the support that comes from others by taking classes. From barre to Barry’s, I’m sharing three of my favorite classes I rely on to get in shape, stay in shape and feel better physically and mentally everyday. I’m also sharing three of my favorite tips that help keep me feel just as physically healthy and energized as I did as a college senior. (Maybe.)
- Studio Lagree I discovered reformer Pilates a few years ago and instantly loved it. And then more specifically, I found Lagree. I don’t know if it’s the structure of the class or the machines themselves, but this class is IT for me. Before my wedding I amped up the number of classes I took from 1x/week to 3x/week. A teacher once suggested to me that given the nature of the machine, your body has no choice but to really support you to do each of the movements and not fly off the machine. (I’ve asked multiple different people…very few have actually fallen off for the record!)
- Pure Barre has consistently been one of my core workouts since I moved back to Chicago in 2103 and took my first class. It has a faster pace than other barre classes (i.e. Exhale) and there are studios home in Columbus and now in Michigan that I enjoy visiting. I have a ‘lite’ package and pay to take 8 classes/month, which is the perfect option for me. I take it a couple of times as week and generally stick to the original version vs. Reformer or Empower. Although if I’m looking for a low-impact cardio class, I do really like Empower. The thing I like best about Pure Barre is while every class is different, I know what to expect no matter the studio I’m visiting. Because I’ve been taking it long enough I can also make the adjustments I may need throughout class (e.g. certain moves bother my hips, so I tweak accordingly) and walk away from a really beneficial workout.
- Barry’s Bootcamp I spoke pretty extensively about my experience at Barry’s late last summer, you can read about it and a few of my other favorite classes here. While I used to love running and really knew my way around a weight room, I have lost that intrinsic motivation to do either on my own. Barry’s has my favorite treadmills (the Woodway style that are more gentle on your knees) and almost always has a great playlist! I went to one class/week before the wedding, and after some travel I have early this month I will start routinely going again. While it can be sometimes challenging for me to get motivated and out the door for class, I always feel really good all day following. Not to mention, I really enjoy their women’s locker room & the plentiful Oribé products in the showers!
- 64 Ounces of Water/Day This is a no-brainer but for some reason, really hard for me to make sure I drink enough water everyday! By far I drink the most water when I have one of my water bottles from home with me no matter where I am. If I’m going to workout, heading to work, traveling or even going to a friend’s house I’ll tote along my water bottle with me. It encourages me to drink and refill it throughout the day. The key for me is adding ice, no matter what time of the day or year is, I prefer my water iced cold! I also love adding lemons, a sentiment I shared here on this post a few months ago.
- 7-8 Hours of Sleep/Night Another no-brainer but really important for me is making sure I get enough sleep. I’ve always tried to adjust myself to be a natural ‘morning person’ but really it takes a lot of self-talk to get myself out of bed. Ensuring I get to sleep at a reasonable hour really helps ease me out of bed in the morning. I used to be a true night owl, regularly going to bed between 11-12A midnight. Because I like to start my day with a workout and check it off my list, it’s important I scoot up my bedtime so I can get close to the full amount recommended. I keep a book on my nightstand and try to read a few pages to unwind from an inevitable day of looking at screens.
- Turmeric Pills These very well may be a placebo effect at this point, but I take a turmeric pill right when I get into bed each evening. My friend who used to own a Pure Barre studio noticed I was always fidgeting with my legs, which get sore after sitting around and particularly when I’m dehydrated. She suggested giving these pills a try, which can help relieve joint pain and acts as an anti-inflammatory. I feel more relaxed after taking it, and I don’t worry about negative affects as it’s really just an herb. Again it very well may be a placebo effect but I feel more relaxed and seem to sleep better after taking one of these pills. You can read about some of turmeric’s health benefits here.
I don’t think I’ll ever get my energy back at its peak place as I did when I was in college, but it certainly does help to maintain a healthy routine. What are your go-to classes or overall tips to feel physically healthy? Share them with me anytime by commenting or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org!