Wonder Workouts: Fully Functional Fitness [Expert Column]
In 2010, Jordyn Steig founded Wellistic Wholeness to formalise his work with individuals and groups on fitness and natural healthy living. As a personal fitness trainer, his Wonder Workouts offer a refreshing and fun twist on working out. Since then, he has worked with a wide variety of people to help them find their own unique formula to a balanced, healthy, and physically fit lifestyle. His motto: Designing healthy living, especially for you.
We strew around the term 'fitness' without a solid foundation lying beneath it. Yet lakhs of people spend crores of rupees and hundreds of hours a year pursuing this vaguely-grasped concept.
In Bombay, big muscles on men and reed-thin waistlines and robust busts for women pass off as fit bodies, whether or not the person's body is measurably fit and healthy.
One day, my favourite trainer in one of Bombay's well-regarded gyms told me matter-of-factly, “First thing is, body-building is the highest form of physical fitness.”
With that kind-of gyaan passing off as common knowledge, no wonder much of what I observe around me in the name of exercise does not benefit people nearly as much as the same amount of time and energy would if they opted for a more balanced, scientifically-grounded approach to fitness.
This misconception of the meaning of physical fitness badly damages many people's bodies, minds, emotions, and sense of self-worth. Whether through unsustainable dieting or an imbalanced exercise regimen, pursuing an ideal body type, irrespective of your own physiology and the impact it leaves on you places your body at great risk, potentially imperiling your overall health over the short- and long-term.
Physical fitness alludes to an extremely elementary notion: Working out in order to extract the most out of your body, performance-wise, every day, in everything you do, regardless of the size and shape it takes on as a result of this process. Period.
A fit body is balanced, coordinated, flexible, and strong, enriched with superior muscular endurance and cardio-vascular stamina. This level of fitness fosters a sturdy body and remains within realistic reach of most people who dedicate a handful of hours a week to exercise.
This kind of fitness allows our bodies to perform routine physical tasks every day in a manner which does not unduly strain our muscles, joints, and tendons.
I endorse exercise which focuses on combining these primary elements of fitness. The importance of blending a variety of components in your workout sessions cannot be over-emphasised. The ingredients for a successful exercise regimen do not need to be achieved in each workout but rather over a series of workouts, each one should receive due focus. (** Please consult a trainer to find the right mix and balance for you. **)
While all suggestions about how to exercise require an individual assessment of a person's age, lifestyle, diet, physical condition, and medical and exercise history, amongst other things, some essentials apply to everyone. We all need some type of resistance training to improve our bone density and strength and some exercise which sends our hearts racing and produces breathlessness to increase our cardio-vascular stamina (assuming you do not have a medical condition rendering such activity potentially dangerous).
I strongly believe all of us need some form of destabilisation training which helps immensely with core strength, balance, and coordination. Destabilisation translates to sitting on an exercise ball, standing on one foot, using a wobble board, or doing anything else which forces your body to balance itself while you perform an exercise, weight-bearing or not. Sitting on a bench or standing to lift weights fundamentally cheats our bodies of the full benefit of weight-lifting, one of the biggest and most common mistakes people make in our gyms when they could instead simply plop down on the exercise balls most gyms thankfully provide.
Working to increase our flexibility via a series of asanas or stretches remains crucial to our bodies remaining supple. This minimises the risk of unnecessary injuries, aches, and strains which afflict too many of us who sit in vehicles and at desks for much of our days.
The last critical ingredients to fitness incorporate dynamic and interval training (again assuming you do not have a medical condition making these activities unadvisable). Simply put, dynamic training injects an explosive movement into your exercises, so that you leave the ground fully at some point or the other while working out. Interval training involves changing speeds during any cardio-vascular exercise. If you use a treadmill or cross trainer, switch speeds and incline and try and work yourself up to a peak you can only maintain for 10 or 20 seconds. Ease in and out of your peak while continually altering your effort and stride length or direction every couple of minutes.
The beauty of including all these features in your workouts lies in the amazing efficiency: you will spend far less time achieving the same benefits if you vary your workouts. Please do not rely on static routines, as exemplified by the ubiquitous workout card people tote around our gyms.
If you follow this basic advice, after a couple of weeks, your body will be grateful and you will feel different and, rest assured, much lighter on your feet each and every day.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images