These exercise tips are from my personal experience and have served me well throughout the years of my practice as a martial artist. I share because these lessons were learned the hard way and hopefully they can help you begin or continue your exercise habits.
Back in Madison, Wis. I was taught a form of Brazilian martial arts known as capoeira. I found that the exercise, community and discipline of the art form was both a fitness routine but also a spiritual journey. It kept me connected me with my body, and through my body I was able to experience of sense of awe in others and the world.
Here at PraXis, we want to encourage people to do some form of fitness as part of their prayer life. This can be anything, but ideally it would be 20-30 minutes of rigorous exercise before sitting in silent prayer like Centering Prayer, or what we are calling Christian Mindfulness.
Have an Accountability Buddy
From my experience exercise is always more difficult when you do it alone. I’ve found that it’s always helpful to work out with someone else. That person should be someone you trust. Someone with whom you share your fitness goals and hopefully can join you on your exercise adventures. During the pandemic, it might not be possible to have someone else, so you may find that a virtual group such as the Praxis group, apps or social media may suffice to hold you to your next exercise challenge.
Work through the soreness
Have you heard of ‘no pain, no gain’? Well, there’s some truth to that…and take it with a grain of salt. When we work out, our muscle fibers tear and rebuild. That’s how we gain strength and appear more toned. If you pushed yourself yesterday and you find you have some muscle soreness (not pain, we will talk about that next), it can be most helpful for your body (and mind) to have an ‘active rest.’ This movement could be light cardio, stretching, light strength training or training a different muscle group. This helps circulate blood to muscle fibers and increase mobility so feel less stiffness.
The Rule of 3 Pains
This is not my tip, but is from a fellow martial artist. If I knew this when I was in the height of my training, I believe I could have avoided some injuries that still plague me. The Rule of 3 Pains is simple and goes like this. When you feel pain the first time, keep going. If we always stopped when something got difficult, we would get nowhere. When you feel pain the second time, notice it, be aware of your body mechanics and get curious. Why do you think you’re having this pain? Check your form. Is it compromised? When you feel pain the third time, take a break. It’s your body’s way of getting your attention to avoid a potential injury.
Create a Habit
Whether you’re new at exercise or you’ve fallen out of the routine, it’s important to move your body. In order to ensure that you have movement every day is to create a routine of it. One way to do that is to do it every day at the same time. This way your mind and body habituate to a time of the day and help you regulate your energy throughout the day. Another way to create a habit of exercise if to pair it with an existing habit. I used to pair brushing my teeth in the morning with exercise. It was a fail safe way to cue my mind and body for exercise. It’s just as important for our health as brushing our teeth.
Keep it Interesting
Whether you’ve been exercising all your life or you’re new at it, get curious about your body and your surroundings. Exercise doesn’t have to be a boring monotonous movement. It can be fun and can involve the whole family and pets. Create games, make yourself work harder to get places like walking, riding bicycles, or racing. If you’re a seasoned athlete, you could purchase some new equipment or search the internet for the latest and greatest exercise blend or craze. Changing it up a bit could be enough to get you through a plateau.
~Jamie DeRuyter, partner in PraXis