Hard versus soft workouts : when slow can be just as effective as fast (and even more!)

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It has been a while since I’ve written a blog post, almost a month ! How time goes by. I feel like it just flies by and everything goes so fast. So that is why today I’m here to talk to you about fitness, and how to take advantage of slower types of workout for results as effective – or even more – than regular exercices. Interested ?

It seems like the trend today is to push yourself in the gym, and go “hard or go home”. Many articles encourage us to do more in less time, namely HIIT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training) in short 20 to 30 minutes sessions. While those are really effective, I will not deny it, I found myself not being as motivated to do them as before. But I have found an alternative.

Technically, I have no excuse : I have plenty of time on my hands, I have a gym membership, and this gym is only 30 seconds away from my house, literally. However, even in this situation, I found myself a couple of weeks ago not wanting to go anymore because I anticipated the feeling of tiredness I’d feel afterwards. In addition, even though my gym offers workout classes (body pump, RIPPED… all that kind of intensive sessions), they are one hour long, and sometimes I just could not be bothered to spend an entire hour in the gym for such demanding classes.

So I decided to try out another kind of exercise, a calmer one: yoga, pilates and barre classes. I had already tried one yoga session back in Bordeaux, but it turned out to be a 2 hour long classes more focused on meditation and mantras – not the kind of active yoga class I was looking for.

A few weeks ago, I put on my workout clothes and went to my 8am yoga class. I thought it might be a bit too long or boring at first, but I quickly got into it. The fact that you need time to perfect a pose really gives you the impression that the class is only 30 minutes long.

It was not too easy nor too hard, and it turned out it has been relatively easy to make progress, and fast. This is a great incentive to motivate you and keep training yourself in addition to the more psychological benefits you get out of it.

Indeed, I wanted to try more “body and mind” workout classes because my back is a mess (I always have something blocked, sore, or stuck) so I thought this would help me. I am also a very stressed and anxious person by nature, so I needed something to calm me down, bring me peace and insight into my life.

It turns out that yoga and pilates are not only bringing relief to sore or painful body areas, but they also provide a good workout in a different form. Some positions such as downward dog, upward facing dog, bridge and bow pose, plank and so many others are really good to activate your muscles – and every one of them ! You work your core, your legs, your arms… You name it. I even found myself being a little bit sore after some of my classes.

While my yoga class mixes a lot of different positions and exercices to train the entire body, pilates (at least at my gym) are more focused on the core and the back where you learn to develop control, improve flexibility and build strength. I am also taking a barre class, which is a mind and body class that teaches us balance by combining  the strength and precision of a ballet barre workout combined with flexibility stretches to burn, tone, strengthen and stretch yourself.

Those classes are perfect to make us realize that we need to slow down, and take some time. Take our time to perfect a position, to learn another, to try, maybe fail, and then succeed. I dare you to say that doing a crane pose, a peacock pose parallel to the floor or a headstand is easy !

Combine those practices with the required mindfulness exercise that goes along (feeling present and aware of your movements and each of your muscles) and the breathing techniques you need to have, and it becomes even more challenging than a simple HIIT or cardio workout !

Good for the body, and good for the mind, what is not not like ? The “plus” is that you do not even break a sweat, so you can just carry on with your life and responsibilities after getting changed, but in a more relaxed mindset.

If you’re interested, but do not have the possibility to join a gym, or your gym does not offer those kind of classes, there are a lot of videos on youtube to help you out, for free. In addition, This website is also very convenient to learn different poses, their names, and how to do them.

I encourage you to just take one hour, or even just 30 minutes : after waking up, before going to bed, whatever works for you. Just roll down your mat, play a video, be present and breathe. I warn you : it is addictive.

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