Which exercise style fits you best?
Nowadays, if you want to get fit, you don't have to settle for rows of treadmills or an overpriced gym membership.
You can select a style of exercise that fits your personality and helps you accomplish your fitness goals without making you dread every minute.
But, getting started can be overwhelming! What IS all this stuff? What's a WOD? An asana? Why do I need to pulse?
Check out this list, a collection of five popular styles of exercise: Yoga, Pilates, Pure Barre, CrossFit, and traditional exercise. Learn how they work, their benefits and what makes each one special.
Focus on “you” with yoga
Sanskrit for "yoke" or "union," yoga joins physical movement with breathing. Instructors typically begin classes with a centering and breathing exercise. Then you'll move through a series of poses, or asanas, before cooling down and finishing with yoga's signature "Namaste."
Benefits of yoga
Yoga improves flexibility and increases strength. Even without burpees, you'll raise your heart rate, which is great for your heart's health. Military spouses will love the way yoga makes them feel happier, sleep better and stress less (deployment-blues cure, anyone?).
In fact, Army spouse and yoga instructor Hilary Mitchell says that the benefits of yoga are "endless." If you explore how deeply the practice changes not only your body, but also your mind, you'll experience the immense benefits, she says.
"Bring a positive and hopeful attitude to the classroom or home practice, trust your body and your instincts," Hilary says. "Allow yourself the opportunity to just be yourself without restraint."
Should I try yoga?
Yoga offers classes for all levels. Hatha or Vinyasa yoga are good for beginners, while Ashtanga and Bikram are more demanding.
Hilary recommends to read class descriptions and look for terms like "all levels" or "advanced" to help you choose a class.
Where can I find a yoga class?
Check out your installation's gym or your local community's gyms. Or, search online for free or low-cost videos.
"Always look for options nearby for yoga community events or classes too," Hilary says.
Fire up your powerhouse with Pilates
Pilates also unites movement and breath, but its focus on the "powerhouse," the body's deep core, makes it unique. During a Pilates class, you'll practice its six main principles: control, centering, concentration, precision, breath and flow.
Benefits of Pilates
Practicing Pilates can result in improved posture, increased strength and increased flexibility. It'll help you shed pounds and boost your mental health, too.
Targeting your powerhouse can also benefit areas that can be embarrassing to talk about, but they're crucial to your overall health.
Air Force spouse and certified Pilates instructor Samanta Saura-Perez says that working on deep core and pelvic floor muscles can help improve your sex life, recover after childbirth and even control incontinence.
"If we bring the desire to work and concentrate, the overall experience and benefits will be greater," Samanta says. "By trusting your instructor, after few classes you will see a noticeable increase in mobility, strength and balance.
Should I try Pilates?
Pilates is especially good for people who are recovering from an injury and need a low-impact exercise, women recovering from childbirth and people experiencing back pain, Samanta says. She recommends that anyone with a health issue consult a doctor before trying a new form of exercise.
Where can I find a Pilates class?
Look for Pilates at your installation's gym or at a local gym. Some communities will have dedicated Pilates studios, too.
Feel the burn with Pure Barre
Pure Barre is rooted in ballet, Pilates and yoga. The low-impact workout leads participants through a series of small, controlled, highly intense movements. You'll "pulse" and "hold," feeling Pure Barre's signature burn, which means you're activating important deep muscle fibers.
Benefits of Pure Barre
Pure Barre's slogan, "lift, tone, burn!" accurately describes its effects, results and why people love it. Army spouse and Pure Barre instructor Claire Manganaro says that Pure Barre's efficient and controlled movements are "creating and defining all major muscle groups."
"The exercises performed in class safely strengthen core muscles used for increased strength and mobility," she says.
But Claire says that the Pure Barre community is its "strongest asset."
Claire has seen students step out of their comfort zones and find their place in the Pure Barre community, accomplishing major weight loss goals or coping with the death of a child.
She believes Pure Barre has the power to transform the "whole self."
Should I try Pure Barre?
Pure Barre is designed to allow modifications for anyone. Claire says that, because it's low-impact, it's especially good for people who are recovering from an injury or pregnant.
Where can I find Pure Barre?
Find a class in over 500 Pure Barre studios nationwide. If you're OCONUS, search "Pure Barre On Demand" in the App Store!
Unleash your inner bad-ass with CrossFit
CrossFit workouts are varied and intense, and people love them! Classes begin with a group warm-up and skills-building session, in which participants fine-tune particular abilities. The WOD (workout of the day) changes everyday, and includes rowing, squats, kettle bell swings and more.
Benefits of CrossFit
Metabolic conditioning and functional movements burn calories, build muscle and reduce the risk of injury. Plus, they improve balance and agility.
Air Force spouse and certified CrossFit trainer Anna C. Olson says that, while she sees people get stronger and shed pounds, she also sees how CrossFit helps people grow more confident. People are surprised by their accomplishments, which makes them feel "unstoppable," she says.
Anna also says the community is unique and powerful. "When you are most vulnerable and are tired during the workout, doubting if you can finish, there is someone next to you cheering you on, telling you that they know you can do it," she says.
Should I try CrossFit?
CrossFit is adaptable to your fitness level and abilities. It uses a lot of special terms and equipment, but Anna says that being patient and setting one or two goals at a time will help you adjust.
"You don't have to be the fastest or fittest," she says. "You just have to try."
"And remember that quitting won't speed it up!" she adds.
Where can I find CrossFit?
Check for CrossFit at your installation, or search CrossFit.com for a local workout. This can be helpful if you're on the road (hello, PCS season!) and desperate for a workout.
Keep it real with traditional exercise
If specialized parameters aren't your jam, traditional exercise might be what you need. "The gym" can be a fitness center or your backyard, allowing you to get creative with an effective aerobic and strength-training workout.
Navy spouse and certified personal trainer Cheryl Roth says that pushups, squats, deadlifts, rows, pullups, overhead presses and lunges will keep you healthy and get results.
Benefits of traditional exercise
Exercising regularly will build muscle, create lasting energy and improve brain function. And don't forget it'll also burn calories and help you fit into those skinny jeans.
But well-planned exercise can help you accomplish basic daily activities, Cheryl says, so think about your goals. If you're a parent who struggles to get down to and up from the floor, include squats and lunges in your routine.
If your shoulders are rounded from sitting at a computer or bending over, Cheryl says this could be a sign of a "tight chest and weak upper back." She recommends opening your chest with a standing doorway stretch and strengthening your back with a seated row.
Should I try traditional exercise?
Traditional exercise gives you total control to design your own routine. With this in mind, Cheryl says to "come armed with a plan."
"Know which exercises you want to incorporate that day, the weights you will use, and how many sets and reps you will do," she says. This will help you stay focused and avoid wasting time.
Where should I go to exercise?
If you need help using the gym's equipment, ask a trained staff member. If you need guidance at home, search YouTube for an exercise routine. Or, work with a trainer like Cheryl, who owns Me Time Health and Fitness, and works with clients online.
And there you have it! Which exercise style fits you best? Which one are you ready to try?
This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.
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