Working out doesn’t have to feel like your going against the wind.
I believe you can bolster or support your emotional state by how you choose your workouts along with getting the physical benefits. Choosing the type of exercise wisely can increase pleasurable emotions, decrease difficult ones and help you ride the often roller coaster of emotions.
I benefit from choosing workouts with the goal of aligning my current mood with my future plans. The experiences below give me confidence to keep choosing wisely. Maybe you can find your own ways to navigate the complicated lives we live.
feeling excited or anticipatory?
When I was single and excited to meet a first date, I would choose a dance cardio class. 305 Fitness, a dance cardio studio in Boston and NYC, is a pre-bar party in itself with great music mixed by a live DJ.
Engaging in something fun for myself before a date or fun night gives me the confidence I want. It also releases nervous energy, like rehearsal before a show. It gives me energy for that date that never ends. But, if the chemistry between me and my date pales in comparison to the good feels in anticipation, I know the class will provide happy feelings for hours after even if I'm calling a friend at 9pm.
Lights off, music on, heart rate up, and dancing in the dark to great music warms my cheeks and creates a body glow that no one can resist.
dealing with difficult emotions?
I remember dreading fielding questions about a recent breakup at family dinners or married friends’ parties. Any time I'm dealing with difficult emotions and don’t want to wallow in them all day, I choose a cycle class or a HIIT class (see below).
The classes fundamentally say to me, "This hurts but keep moving; it will be over soon." It might feel like one more burpie will break me, but it never does and I feel great afterwards. This is the self-talk I need when well intended questions from friends stir your emotions.
The fact that I can control the level of difficulty on my bike empowers me compared to my emotions that arise in uncontrolled waves and leave me feeling susceptible to more negative thoughts. It feels great to take my emotions out on the bike and gives me hope that my feelings will improve with time.
Tip: If you are really feeling sad, take the time after class to care for yourself in a different way. Take a bath or walk around your block listening to relaxing music. With endorphins high from class it can be a safe space to allow for any sadness to come out while not bringing your mood to intense lows.
I choose a Vinyasa yoga class when I am a bit introspective and processing small or large life decisions. Vinyasa flow at Yoga to the People, for instance, is a great balance of movement and the space to process thoughts. Let's be honest, regardless of what we're supposed to do, our minds wander in Yoga. I use this to my benefit rather than beat myself up for it and let myself gently mull over things. I don't get totally lost in thought because the flow of movement + breath brings me back to the present moment.
I choose a teacher who cues breath often to anchor my speed boat of thoughts from cruising all the way to the Cape. Plus, I have had some nice insights in Yoga class. One day, I had a decision to make and had a lot of feelings and thoughts on either side of it. I went to Yoga and set an intention to feel both sides in my body and get perspective. It worked well for me.
need a boost of confidence?
Of course I'm going to talk about Pilates because it’s the fundamental exercises in Pilates that train me and condition me to do all of the above modalities safely! But, Pilates class is also my choice if I need a quiet, solid confidence like before performing (speaking, leading teacher trainings or leading a meeting).
Posture is known to increase happiness and confidence. Pilates builds better posture by strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the hip, spine and core and lengthening tight muscles. Attention to specific parts of the body can increase concentration and subtle listening skills needed for interviews, and reading an audience.
Plus you get all the confidence and focus without the extreme sweat letting you go to your next engagement with ease!
I am currently teaching privates Balans Wellness Studio and group classes at Equinox in NYC and soon Boston and making special appearances at my favorite NYC studios like Kevyn Zeller Pilates and Studio 26NYC. Try a session soon!