I was 19 when my first relationship ended, and I needed a vent to let my frustrations out instead of dwelling on it. I needed to do something to re-direct my energy. This is when I decided to take care of myself and get fit. At the time, I was living in Toronto when I joined a gym for the first time in m life. Right away, I felt great positive energy and I was drawn to group classes. So I gave it a shot and tried the step class. It was so much fun, and it didn’t feel like exercise at all. I would soon find out what a better way to feel better about everything, especially about me, by exercising and sweating it out. From that day on, I decided to make a lifetime commitment to stay active no matter where I am in life. I never looked back and the rest is history.
I continued to do my step classes three times a week, and later on I incorporated kick boxing, group bike ride, and some light weight lifting. I became addicted to the feelings of euphoria after a workout that I decided to increase my fitness routine to 6 classes per week. With 6 classes per week, I decided to alternate cardio training with strength training and a couple of yoga classes to balance my routine. And then, my instructor introduced circuit training which involves group bike ride for cardio and nautilus for strength training. All of these exercises greatly improved my cardio fitness, and challenged my total body strength, especially my core. They say it is your strong core that saves your back and prevent back injuries later in life.
The instructors at the gym instructors were awesome and I learned numerous tips and tricks throughout my exercise years. One of the most important tips I learned is how to breathe properly so that you’re not winded during your workout. Knowing when to inhale and exhale during your workout will help you get through the tough exercises which increase your endurance. Learning how to breathe properly during a workout is probably the most fundamental knowledge when it comes to maximizing your workout so you can exercise longer or do more reps. If you notice that you are winded during an exercise, you are probably holding your breath. Keep breathing and try to use your breath to help you through your workout.
Another important tip is, not only to stay hydrated, but you must replenish your electrolytes after an intense physical activity, especially if you are a type who sweats a lot (like me). Electrolytes are minerals in our blood and other body fluids that carry an electric charge. Basically, electrolytes affect the amount of water in our body, the acidity of our blood (ph), our muscle function, and other bodily functions. Low levels of electrolytes can diminish our physical performance not only during our workouts but also our daily routine as it affects our heart, muscle, nerves, and kidney).
Since moving to the Cayman Islands, I have been practicing yoga for a few years now, including power and hot yoga (bikram). These yoga practices will make you sweat whether you like or not, but unfortunately with the sweat goes electrolytes, vitamins and minerals out of our body. Physical function may hang in the balance if electrolyte levels remain low after a workout. Resulting symptoms can include muscle cramps, muscle fatigue, dizziness, and nausea. But the right food or sports drink can get those electrolytes back in the body, no sweat. Yet when and how much to eat or drink depends on factors like exercise intensity, weather, and individual differences in sweating. Since I practice yoga 5-6 days a week plus 3 days per week fitness training classes, I would add 1 or 2 packages of Emergen-C in my water to keep my electrolytes in balance during and after my workout.
When you decide to get active or to stay active, try to choose a physical activity that you enjoy so that you are more likely to stick to it. When I was living in Vancouver, Canada, I had plenty of choices when it comes to physical activities. In the summer, instead of running, I would go hiking for 4-8 hours, play golf by walking the course for 4.5 hours, rollerblade, or play tennis. In the winter, I would go cross country skiing, downhill skiing, or snowshoeing. Try to find something you enjoy doing when it comes to choosing a physical activity, this way you don’t have to force yourself to do it. Personally, I experienced a number of advantages by staying active with regular physical activities including increased metabolism, weight maintenance, prevent injuries (especially back and joint injuries), quick recovery from illness, and youthfulness, among other things.
So go ahead, get active – make a lifetime commitment to stay active, and have a healthy and youthful life!