And The Best Workout Is… !

Photo: Sarah Kunst

IS YOUR WORKOUT THE BEST FOR YOU?

Answer yes or no to the following statements:

  • I find myself smiling during my workout.
  • I sometimes even sing along with the music. (Or, even though I’m totally not someone who would ever sing along at a workout class, I don’t mind when others do because I’m having so much fun!)
  • Ideas come to me while I’m working out or on my way to home/office/next stop.
  • I feel energized not depleted when I’m done.

If you’ve answered yes to any of these, you’re in a good groove. Notice that none of the statements have anything to do with physical “results.” Those will inevitably come if you have a workout that makes you feel good enough to keep going back.

THE BEST WORKOUT IS THE ONE YOU DO

That’s what I always say when people ask me. Plain and simple. We put so much pressure and guilt on ourselves to workout. Guilt and pressure are not sustainable motivations and they’re certainly not healthy ones. If we could ease up on ourselves and the definition of “best” or “good enough” we’d be healthier and happier, physically and mentally. A workout doesn’t have to be perfect, you just have to move. The more fun you have doing something, the more likely you are to do it again. That’s how to sustain a habit–by enjoying how it makes you feel!

Your body will tell you what you need on any given day. If I’m grinding through a project, I’ve learned that a high-intensity workout doesn’t charge me up, it actually depletes me. Something slower, like a power yoga class, gives me strength without zapping my energy. If I’m feeling blah, that’s when I need a jolt to my system and it’s HIIT time. If I’m frustrated, maybe I just need to dance it out. If I’m in a great mood, sometimes I just want to dance it out! You just have to start paying attention: What feels good today isn’t what necessarily turns us on tomorrow.

 

 

MY FOUR BEST WORKOUTS

I know that I thrive on variety. I need cardio and a relentless playlist. I also need to sculpt. I also need stretch. Sometimes I want to zone out. Other times I want to focus. So this rotation always does me right.

TO RESET

Classical pilates is my first love. It’s a perfect workout for someone just beginning their wellness journey or a pro athlete! I started pilates in my 20s because I hated the idea of getting sweaty in front of other people. I took lessons with a friend of a friend who had a reformer in his apartment. No one saw me sweat and struggle like a beetle on my back. But as I grew stronger, it gave me the confidence to try new things and embrace working out in a group. I often joke that it’s the hardest work to hardly move. The movements are slow, small, and deliberate. Some people find it too slow. But to me, the focus can be so satisfying. You shake and fight for it. It’s the best baseline workout to get rid of any kinks that age, life, injury, and other workouts may have wrought. Stack your spine, release those hips, stretch those hammies. Walk out taller, feel lighter.

TO STRETCH

Stephanie Eris at Exhale is a yoga witch. She casts a spell on everyone who comes to her class. With her super soothing voice, ice blue eyes, tattoos, and a mainly black wardrobe–she’s not a sunshine and butterflies yogi. She’s a freaking yoga witch. She’s got mother earth power not flower child power. Her flows are so deep and athletic. An hour and fifteen flies. There are days when nothing is going right or I feel kind of down, I show up at Stephanie’s and she works her magic. Abracadabra–better day! Plus, her eclectic playlist from 90’s girl-grunge to Motown to mellow indie is always empowering.

 

 

TO HIT EVERYTHING

My longest fitness relationship is with my trainer Katia Pryce (pictured throughout), founder of Dancebody. I met her seven years ago and I can’t quit her. Dancebody hits everything for me. Dance like nobody’s watching? Check. Warm, inspiring instructors? Check. Ridiculous playlist? Definitely. Ridiculous booty-boosting? Uh-huh. Arm-sculpting? You got it. A crazy creative abs series where you feel it in every ab and ab-adjacent muscle? Every time. I’m never bored. I always leave happy and feeling like Beyonce. And if you’re not in NYC, you can stream her workouts anywhere.

TO RIDE

No one distracts you from the hard work at hand like super-instructor Stacey Griffith at Soul-Cycle. I never realize how much effort I’m putting in because I’m so absorbed in The Stacey G. Show. She makes you laugh. She makes you think. She makes you dance. She makes you work without even knowing it. G stands for Genius. You can get your Stacey-isms and her signature motivation off the bike from her book, Two Turns From Zero.

I do other workouts too. But these are my regulars. I don’t do them every week but I always come back to them to keep my mind and body humming. I’m at my best when I’m cheering for myself and everyone else in the room during The Stacey Hour at Soul. I’m at my best when I’m at Katia’s Beyonce dance party. I’m at my best when I’m moving from places deep within my core and extending out through Stephanie’s expansive flow or from pilates. These are my best workouts because they make me want to show up, be with them, listen, and follow for an hour. It never feels like an obligation or something to drag myself to. The time flies. I leave aglow.

At its most basic, a workout is about the physical. But at its best, a workout is a relationship. It’s about who and what you connect with—and perhaps even more importantly, how you connect with yourself and your own body. It’s about where you are in your life. What you’re able to give and what you’re able to get out of it. Strength begets more strength. Calm more calm. Joy more joy.