‘No pain, no gain', ‘go harder, go faster, do more’. How many times have I heard this mantra when I have reluctantly attended exercise classes or even more so, the one time I enrolled in a Gym program. When I looked at the people in the classes, (instead of concentrating of doing more, going faster) I often wondered what their motivation was to put their body through so much pain and stress.
Though most of us recognise that exercise is ‘good for you’, it is definitely not something that I have looked forward to doing, neither did I find it easy to commit to doing it regularly, apart from my daily walks out in beautiful sunshine and nature. But then I noticed these walks did take on the mantra ‘no pain, no gain'. I would walk faster, longer, bigger strides just to ensure that my body was ‘benefitting’ from my so called exercise program. I have ofter wondered if there was another way to exercise!
Is it possible to exercise for good health and well-being without the ‘no pain, no gain’ mantra ringing in my ears?
Is it possible that exercise does not have to be uncomfortable, painful or something we dread?
Is it possible that maybe, just maybe, it only seems this way because the issue is not the exercise itself, but HOW we actually are exercising?
Is it possible for exercise to be enjoyable and feel great in our body if done in a different way to what we have previously experienced or been shown to do?
Is it possible that exercising can result in a completely different experience of exercise when connected and in tune with our self, our feelings and our body?
I have found the answers to all my ponderings and I can now make new exercise choices without the ‘no pain, no gain’ mantra to influence me .
Exercising without the Huff and the Puff!
I recently had the opportunity to attend an exercise class that involved both land and water exercises led by Dr. Danielle Pirera. The exercise session was promoted as ‘Gentle Exercises for the Elder Woman’. My initial thought was that the exercises wouldn’t be much use as it seemed like they were being ‘toned down’ to suit our elderly bodies. Wrong, wrong, wrong!
Whilst there was no huff and puff from us during the exercises, our bodies were certainly given a strong workout, in just less than an hour.
How could this be? For many years my exercise routines have been based on the premise that for my body to gain any benefit from exercise I had to push it to its limits, do ‘numbers’ of exercises, make my body feel the ‘worth of pushing it harder’ and of course, if you didn’t sweat then really you were ‘playing’ at exercising. In just one session I have re-learnt what truly beneficial exercise is – it is to feel the quality and not the quantity of each movement, it is to feel deep into my body how each movement affected each body part – a truly wonderful feeling, and it is to enjoy the exercise routine so that your body craves coming back for more of this gentle exercising.
In just one hour I realised that the true purpose of exercise is to take some time to reconnect to our self and our body and develop a gentle and honouring way of moving, and to then take this way of moving into every moment of our day.
What a glorious hour I spent with a group of like-minded and like-aged beautiful women who were re-learning the worth of reading our bodies, caring for our bodies, exercising our bodies to remain strong and healthy as we travel further into our elder years.
I loved the session! What a joy it was to look into the ladies' eyes and see the love they each had for their own bodies. What a joy it was to see them smiling and a ‘wink’ here and there certainly confirmed that everyone was both enjoying and also feeling really good about themselves during the exercise session.
How can this be at an exercise class? Danielle is a true professional in the way she explained the why, the how, the what, and the when of gentle exercising to support and, importantly, to develop strength and fitness in our elder bodies.
“When we are living and moving in connection and with gentleness, it's possible to feel a light and joyful way of being with our body. Over time this develops a healthy and vital body, and even a body that feels harmonious and full of love. A body, which we begin to cherish and adore and, in turn, we naturally want to deeply care for and exercise, in a loving way.” Dr. Danielle Pirera 2016.
There was no pandering to our age – just asking us to acknowledge the quality of how our body was feeling and how each demonstrated exercise felt both to the individual body parts we were focusing on but also to the body as a whole. To me, this was like a 1,000 watt light bulb switching on into light as I wasn’t exercising to get a flatter stomach, or to remove my bat wings, or even to turn the legs into a model shape. I was there to strengthen my whole body, to explore and value my whole body and in turn to enjoy the experience of working out my whole body.
What a powerful exercise session we all had! I know I loved it and I will certainly be back for more guidance and support from Danielle, and I can’t wait to continue the exercises on a daily basis. I know my body will love this attention, and caring for it as I continue on my elder years journey.
Ruth A., Australia