Whatever Happened to Just Plain Walking and Stretching?

There is no question that we all need to exercise regularly in order to feel good and live longer. However, I have become increasingly concerned about “extreme” exercise — especially for people who need to preserve their Jing or Essence, which is, in Eastern thought, the finite well of energy with which we are all born.

The guiding principle of Eastern medicine is moderation, rather than extremes, in all aspects of life — food, drink, emotions and physical activity. It can be described as the Middle Way or, as I like to say, the “Goldie Locks Principal” — not too hot, not too cold, not too hard, not too soft.

Recently, I was at my gym and decided to browse some of the courses being offered. At first, I was amused (and later concerned) by some of the descriptions. They sounded extreme, and rather negative. Not to mention dangerous (see “fat torching.”)

A sampling includes (and these are exact quotes):

“Snake Bite: “ViPR was created to blend strength training with functional training and quick movements. Get ready to lift, drag, pull and jump yourself into a new and stronger YOU”

“Piloxing: The newest workout craze mixes pilates with boxing into a fat torching  and muscle sculpting workout”

“Hard Core: Get ready for a class that will push your fitness level to the limit”

This was my favorite because it seemed to just take care of everything all at once:
“Spin Yoga Core: Get an intense cardio-core workout while learning yoga techniques to increase your biking efficiency and your flexibility, as well as your inner being”.

So, back to my original point. What ever happened to just taking a brisk walk and, later, doing a few simple stretches or lifting some weights? Why everything at once — “boot camp” style? A mindful walk in a park will go a lot further to help our mind-body connection than sweating buckets in a 100 degree “Bikram” yoga class, in my opinion.

People often make New Year’s resolutions that involve getting to their gyms more often. I say consider going less. Go outside for a walk, even if you have to wear lots of layers.  Plant (in the Spring of course) that garden you always wanted. Gardening burns a lot of calories! Fill some empty milk jugs with water and lift them. Do some mindful stretches without the view of five TV’s on the wall flashing the latest world catastrophe or nasty housewives fighting.

I realize the structure of a class can be beneficial. However, be open to some simple alternatives — and seriously consider NOT taking classes named after snakes.