I am a closet exercise wimp. You might never guess this about me, because I teach group exercise classes, both yoga and yoga trapeze. Yet in my first yoga class, I fell right onto my nose attempting a crow pose. The height of my sports achievement? High school cheerleader. I run screaming from the thought of high intensity or boot camp classes.
Yet at my latest insurance health screening, I received “elite” health & fitness status – low blood pressure, healthy BMI and weight, and lack of chronic health conditions. I give a lot of the credit for my good health to regular yoga.
Still, when I look toward the not-that-distant horizon of leaving my fifth decade, I realized I don’t feel as strong as I want to. I’m not trying to regain some fabled strength or period of youth when I had it all. Nope. But if in my 40’s I worked fairly successfully at getting the flexibility that motherhood, stress, and plain old life had diminished, now in my 50’s I wanted to hone in on strength.
I started to research the best plan, and was surprised by the vein of research coming out of Canada’s McMaster University.
The research was showing that less time is needed for fitness improvement than we may think, as long as the exercise we undertake is consistent and includes some high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
Being a wimp, the mention of HIIT put me off at first. But the findings seemed clear: short bursts of training over more than 12 weeks improves cardiorespiratory health and staves off chronic diseases.
Could it also give me the increased strength and well-being benefit I was chasing? To put the idea into practice I turned to my StudioFit TD partners and we developed what we call ‘10-Minute Fitness’ - short, fun, snappy classes that integrate strength-building and HIIT intervals.
Since January I’ve done 10-Minute Fitness classes at least three times per week, choosing to do my own yogic version –CardioYoga– as well as StudioFit TD’s CardioBarre and CardioStrength.
The results are awesome! For a time investment of about 45 minutes per week, I’ve moved from feeling slightly wimpy to feeling confident using 3-to-5 pound weights for my 10-minute sessions.
Where it counts for me is in daily activities, and for that 10-Minute Fitness has been great. It makes me clear-headed and strong with that ‘ready to face the day’ feeling in the morning after doing the sessions. In addition, I have enough strength and energy to teach my four weekly classes with gusto.
Because shades of my wimpy personality remain, it’s best for me to always schedule my 10-minute sessions at the beginning of the week, say Saturday or Sunday for the coming week, so that I’m accountable. We now run a 10-minute class 6 days a week. It also helps to have a partner (or more than one!) that encourages me when I feel like wimping out. I do the same for them.
It feels like a program that is easy to fit in with the rest of my life, gives me the increased strength I want and can be sustainable for the long term. Win-win-win. Much better than wimp wimp wimp.