Lesson 4: Do It Well, Do It Often

It’s fitting for me to be writing this blog after returning from a trip to South Carolina for a buddy’s 30th birthday. 

This buddy of mine has been taking serious steps to get his health back. He has made improvements to his diet and he even signed up for some new “Crazy Intense Classes” in his town. I am sure many of you have been to or seen classes like these. They advertise a particular type of training that they promise will increase energy levels and burn calories long after you have ended the class. They make you sweat like crazy and of course, must be done 4 times a week for “optimal results “.

My first class went like this:

Instructor:

“Start with running a mile as fast as you can. Then you are going to hit the rower for 900 meters, then the weight room for some exercises, and then back to the rower for 600 meters, and then back to the weight room to finish up those exercises.”

(And back and forth and back and forth we went)

I had two reactions:

- The first reaction came from the demon inside of me who loves suffering, who was like, “shit yea can’t wait. I’m going to murder this workout.”

- The second reaction was from the Fitness Professional. His reaction was, “Wait a minute you want all these people to do what? Without any type of an assessment? This is chaos and pain infliction! This is not beneficial exercise!”

Don’t get me wrong, I had a great workout. It was fun, the music was awesome, the energy was up - and luckily I was not injured or left incredibly sore (then again, I have some previous experience with intense exercise). Would I do it again? Absolutely! Is it something I could see myself wanting to do consistently? Hell no, but that’s just me.

My friend, on the other hand, he was pretty beat up. Just a couple of hours after, he complained of his knees hurting while he moved slowly up the stairs on the way into a restaurant. In addition, he could not stop yawning during dinner. - So much for those increased energy levels that were advertised.

I had one revealing question for him - “Would you be able to wake up tomorrow morning and do that again?”

“Ehh, probably not”, he said. “Actually maybe. I don’t know.”

I then pointed out to him - “Dude, you’re limping, you can barely go up and down the stairs, you’re already too sore to get through the rest of your day. Let me rephrase my question - do you think you would do WELL and BENEFIT from a class tomorrow?”

The answer was a clear, “ Oh… hell no!”

For my friend, maybe these classes are not the best option. It’s not that these classes are “bad”, because they aren’t, they are just not ideal for him. And my guess is that they’re not ideal for many who might be enticed by the promises of the studio - anyone who is just starting out with a fitness regimen.

Like most of the general population, he was unaware of what this class would leave him feeling like. Nor was he aware of how hard he should push himself during the class so that a QUALITY workout the next day would be possible.

So then he asked me what I thought he should do instead. Run every day? Crossfit? Use the elliptical? The bike?

I told him I couldn’t give him specific answer, but the most important requirement was that he ask himself:

Can I do this WELL? (As in it does not cause any pain, and has minimal risk attached.)

and

Can I do this OFTEN?

These same considerations should guide you when you are choosing your path of exercise. No matter what it is, the workout that you can do comfortably, safely, and consistently is the best exercise for YOU - not necessarily whatever the new cardio-step-plyo-insanity9000x trend is, unless that meets the requirements!

The best exercise for YOU is the one that helps you optimize the path to longevity.

After all, that’s the ultimate goal!

      



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