I have lately observed that there are certain times when my exercise rhythm is off or non-existent, and when I get so caught up in the ‘busyness’ of my day and the many things that I feel I’m responsible for or that need completing (ie. work, family etc.), that my exercise routine seems to be one of the first things that gets neglected.
I noticed that the busier I was, the more I was neglecting my exercise rhythm and routine… and the longer the gaps were between exercising. To add to this, I was also feeling more tired – which seemed to exacerbate the desire to even do any exercise in the first place, even if I did have time!
I was recently offered the opportunity to join a 4 week online exercise program offered by Danielle Pirera (Re-Connect Exercise), and even though I’ve enjoyed attending these classes in the past, my first response was “I haven’t got time!” There was no pressure to commit either way, however I was presented with the possibility that the exercise classes would actually be an opportunity to support me with everything else I was doing. I could feel that deep down this was absolutely true and that neglecting my exercise rhythm was neither feeling right nor supporting me in my day, so it became an easy choice to join the online program and make a specific commitment to completing one 45 min exercise group class each week.
What I have found most supportive is that the exercise program is presented in a way that encourages connection with my body – feeling how I want to exercise on each particular day – which I’ve found varies from week to week.
The exercise program has not been about doing the exercises a certain way, at a certain pace or level of intensity or how many reps or even doing the exercise the same way as Danielle, the presenter. In fact I’ve felt encouraged to simply feel my body moving, and to feel what’s right in every exercise. Led by example, the focus has not been on the technique of the exercise, but simply staying connected to my body and the quality of the movements.
In this, I’m learning more and more that exercise is not about what I do or how many or for how long, but ‘how’ I do it. And the other thing I’m learning is to not make my exercise routine so serious (!) …. to keep it light and playful.
With each exercise group I’ve felt how important it is to do what feels right for me in that particular session. By being encouraged to focus on this and committing to the exercise group every week, I’ve also found that my exercise rhythm outside of the classes is much more accessible and realistic. For example, if I had felt pressured or an expectation that I had to do ½ hour’s exercise every day, I would probably consider skipping exercise altogether! However for me, committing to 10-15 minutes, 2 times a week is something that is manageable and a great place for me to start.
This has also helped me realise that it’s the commitment and connection to myself that’s important as the foundation for exercise, not necessarily the amount of time spent.
I have found these exercise groups provide a true inspiration of a connected way of exercising, supported by the fact that they are taught by example. For example, it’s not uncommon for Danielle to express that her body feels a bit stiff and sore on that particular day and that she is going to move a little slower or not stretch so high, while at the same time providing support and suggestions for others to move faster or make their movements larger if that’s what they feel in their body.
In moments like these, I am being offered the opportunity and inspiration to honour my own body in exactly the same way, whether it’s to take the exercise more gently or increase to an intensity I feel is right for me. Exercising this way is a totally different way of exercising than I have ever experienced before. To have a fitness trainer teach and present this way – in a way that honours her own body – is not only unheard of, but is deeply inspiring as a true way to exercise.
I am still establishing the depth of the connection with my body, but am now starting to feel more of a quality and presence in my exercise routine and exercise rhythm.
With each exercise class I am learning how important it is to honour what I feel in my body, and not to exercise according to a set structure, technique or time frame or with an outcome of achieving a set result.
As I commit to my exercise rhythm I am experiencing more and more how this supports me in all of the other things I need to do in a day. I have more energy and am feeling less tired, supported by my exercise routine that is teaching me to connect to my body and be more present with Me.
By Angela Perin, aged 48, Brisbane
What a great choice it was to visit this blog. I have been going through one of those periods that many activities muscle in and items like exercise can get ignored. It is easy to let the energy take you into complacency and sometimes a little or a big nudge is useful. Reading your blog has inspired me to pay more attention to that area again. Thank you.
As I return to this article, I agree Fiona, as I can really understand what Angela says too about its not what I do or how many or how long but ‘how’ I do it. My head will come in and say ‘I have things to do’ but now my body communicates ‘how about me?’ I can’t do anything if I don’t care for my body and now realise how low it was on the list. This has changed with more awareness of the importance of doing things that support my body, so that I have the energy I need to get things done! Inspirational article Angela.
It is so easy to get up and get on with the ‘doing’ for the day, especially if we are doing it for others, we feel we are being productive. Making a commitment to doing something for ourselves, such as gentle exercises, can feel more challenging and yet, when we do, it helps us to connect within and then the service we offer others is true.
Totally agree Carmel. Isn’t it strange how we find it easy to be motivated to help others but when it comes to ourselves we need a bit more persuading. Taking that first step in making that commitment to ourselves is the hardest one, but once that step has been taken and you start to build on that commitment, it becomes a routine, a rhythm that is now a daily part of you and one that you don’t want to miss.
Thank you Carmel and Tim for prompting me to review my levels of motivation when supporting someone else compared with supporting me.
Thanks for these comments, they reminded me of the real purpose of the exercise in the first place and that is commitment to self. Its far too easy for me to put self aside and rush off to do something, putting the exercise aside at the expense of myself.
Well said Carmel.
Commitment is what feels to be the challenge.
But once we build it into part of our daily routine in such a way that it supports us, then it should feel like a flow and an almost natural action that we do.
That for me has been so supportive and I’ve loved decreasing the intensity but increasing the commitment!
I detected that exercising regularly is fun as it builds strength in the body and I feel more vital.
I’m discovering this too kerstin. For many years previously, exercise for me generally felt like a ‘have to’ and / or because I thought it was good for me, regardless of how my body actually felt doing it, and so there was a drive and push behind it. Although I sometimes still go into this drive, I’m much more aware of it, and overall I’m finding that exercise can be playful and fun, especially when I don’t approach it with an expected outcome in mind, but just allow myself to feel what supports my body.
So true what you have expressed Carmel if we commit to doing something that supports and honors ourselves which helps our connection within, then the service we offer others is true.
This is so true Carmel, reading this makes me aware that I can feel more committed to others than myself and that ‘Making a commitment to doing something for ourselves, such as gentle exercises, can feel more challenging and yet, when we do, it helps us to connect within and then the service we offer others is true.’ A very timely reminder, thank you.
Things got a bit hectic the last couple of weeks for various reasons so let the exercise slip, oh well no biggie, time to start afresh and get back into it.
Had my first session back with ‘Re-Connect Exercise’ yesterday after a two week break as I was solo dad for two weeks and let the exercise slip because I had extra things to do. Although I have a physical job and exercise all day anyway, during the class I could feel how my body felt stiff in places and it made me realise the importance of keeping up with regular supportive exercise or at a minimum the stretching.
Love this comment Kevin, a leaf I’ll be borrowing from your book, there is indeed no point in throwing the baby out with the bathwater, as they say.
I have been coming to a realisation and mental shift when it comes to my approach to exercise. I always saw it as all or nothing. Either exercise every day or don’t bother. Slowly I have realised my inability to commit consistently to everyday exercise is because I’m not pacing myself and building myself up. It’s not that I’m not fit, but that I need to allow myself the time and space to find my own way to exercise. So now I have just committed to exercising a few times a week – signing up to a local circuit training class, and going swimming a few evenings a week. And in the new year working up to some one on one sessions. Suddenly exercise feels easy and not a struggle or a burden, and is no longer a area I can use to critic myself, but instead is an area, like all areas, that is a work in progress.
This is a beautiful highlight, Rebecca. How a simple shift in the way we approach something can change everything. The power of the detail to impact the all. Thank you.
I agree Rebecca! I’ve wanted the results and improvement all at once but as you said once you give yourself the space to truly exercise in a way that is supportive and gentle of yourself then it becomes a truly rewarding experience when you can commit to yourself and the fun you can have at the same time (I love to swim also).
Thanks, Rebecca, for this great comment. Any mental ideas about exercise and what my body ‘should’ be able to do have in the past left me feeling very discouraged. I was never fit enough, strong enough, nor did I ever have enough energy. There was a lot of judgement placed on my body for being inadequate in terms of what I wanted it to be able to do, and I felt I had to push it to make it ‘perform better’. I can see now that I was being unloving towards myself and my body, and by shifting this a whole new approach to fitness has emerged which is building steadily.
When we make exercise a burden it feels like a burden and we can easily resent it – as you say Rebecca the ‘all or nothing mentality’ defeats us immediately. But when we allow exercise to support and build our connection to our body it feels like we can make it a much more achievable part of our everyday, not to mention far more enjoyable.
I found your blog really inspiring, Angela. I am very prone to find an excuse to not do exercise – I have resisted the ‘drive’ that I feel in exercise to a point that is not supporting my body. I love the way you have presented Danielle’s exercise class – it feels so respect-full of the body and the participants, and allows the body to lead the way. I feel that I can commit to two 15 minute sessions a week – that feels manageable and will support me to build a pattern of exercise as a regular part of my life that will be ongoing.
Great perspective Susan, I love that instead of the all or nothing it’s being honest about what is manageable and supportive and starting to build from there. Exercise for me is a work in progress but by having a different relationship with it I can see that changing to be much more supportive and realistic.
‘I feel that I can commit to two 15 minute sessions a week – that feels manageable and will support me to build a pattern of exercise as a regular part of my life that will be ongoing.’ I feel the same Susan, I have really let my exercise routine slip the last couple of months, making excuses like having builders here and not having time, but 15 minutes a couple of times of week is definitely manageable.
Good point Rebecca, find a level that is manageable and start supporting your body with that. The way my body feels when I neglect the exercise compared to how open it feels when I make the commitment is really there to show me the commitment is worth it.
Hi Angela, I can so much identify with: ‘ I was also feeling more tired – which seemed to exacerbate the desire to even do any exercise in the first place, even if I did have time!’. I can feel as you pointed out how committing to exercise does support you and your body to do every thing else you have to do. And to commit to what you feel is manageable for you, (and not push it) eg 10-15 mins, twice a week , feels also like a good place for me to start! Thank you for this timely inspiration.
I agree, start small and go from there
I started exercising and I really enjoyed it, just moving around in my lounge with a couple of tins of tomatoes.
Hi Natalie, your comment did make me chuckle I have visions of you and two tins of tomatoes rolling around exercising! Funnily enough I use a couple of tins of tomatoes when my shoulders are feeling like they need a little exercise and they really help!
Ha, I love this Natalie, it sounds fun – just how exercising should be.
I have been appreciating at a deeper level recently, that swimming is such an amazing opportunity to be with myself, my breath and each movement I make. And it shows me every moment that I lose presence and connection. So, as Matilda beautifully describes above, exercise is becoming an opportunity ‘to know me better’, with the added benefits of strengthening the body at the same time.
I really get what you say about exercise being the last thing you want to implement because life feels busy enough, but that actually exercise can help the tiredness and the busyness be more manageable. I used to swim a lot and haven’t been for ages – your blog has given me more incentive to get back in the pool.
How fantastic that you have an exercise instructor that honours how they feel themselves and she is not pushing through hard to show the class a way. Having worked in the leisure industry for 15 years I can say how rare that is. It is a great way to lead by example as in an exercise class we are far more likely to over-do it than under-do it and this is going to be far more effective in the long run when we listen to what our bodies tell us is enough.
It is true what you say Stephen and was my experience, ‘we are far more likely to over-do it’ than under do it when exercising which defeats the purpose of exercise in the first place which is to give your body more energy, not deplete it by over doing it. And as you point out, what the body appreciates is when you listen to what your body needs and to stop when it is enough.
Thank you Angela for sharing so beautifully about the importance of your regular exercise routine in gentleness and its importance to you.
I also feel the benefits and have made changes and this is constantly evolving ,feels very loving and joyful and a great change from feeling it has to be hard and is now part of my commitment to myself which changes everything and allows me to feel what feels right each day for me.
Thankyou Angela for sharing .
It is amazing how exercise is an area of life many people either go all out or nothing at all. It’s great to read a story that shows commitment to life and exercise, whilst also not losing yourself to the idea that hours of high intensity is what is needed. Thank you for sharing Angela.
Since first reading this blog something sweet and miraculous has happened. I am brushing away the last vestiges of exercise being a chore with an outcome and am enjoying the moment by moment invitations, when I exercise, to know me better.
Thank you for your blog, Angela. I especially connected with this: “This has also helped me realise that it’s the commitment and connection to myself that’s important as the foundation for exercise, not necessarily the amount of time spent.”
This connection is such an important part of exercise (and life in general) that I have found gets ignored more often than not in most exercise training and routines. The attitude of ‘pushing through’, ‘feel the burn’, and ‘just one more’ really are saying ‘ignore what your body is telling you’. I have also done classes with Danielle and it is amazing to let my body tell me how much exercise I am going to do today, instead of seeing my body as something I must overcome to achieve a result.
Well said Naren. Yesterday I joined an exercise class where the focus was on short amounts of a variety of exercises, and with each one I could choose which size weight to use, how fast or slow my body wanted to go and how much it needed to pause in between each movement. As a group we did two circuits of the routine and I could already notice a huge improvement in how my body performed the second time round, yet everything had been done gently and for a very short time. The ‘no pain no gain’ attitude that I used to foster certainly got disproved yesterday and has shown me a completely new way to work with my body not against it. Gentle is definitely the way forward from now on.
Great blog Angela. I have also experienced the going to the gym and doing what my body feels right to do that day. In the past, it was you must do so many reps and push yourself. The gym for most of my life was just some guy’s name and a class in school I hated. A few years ago I tried the Lets Get Fit thing at the gym. I lost some weight and hardened up. That kind of drifted away with other things occupying my time. Now when I don’t do the gym I do my own little workout at home. Now when I exercise wherever it is, I do what my body wants to do.
What a great, insightful blog that’s helping me appreciate how I can listen to my body when it comes to exercise – especially around consistency and the quality of my movements. I sometimes exercise but do it in a forced way rather than listen to my body and move gently in a rhythm that supports me. I find when I do do this I may even exercise for longer but I am not exhausted afterwards as I’ve not pushed myself in a quality that actually works against me.
That’s a good point , Karin. When we bring a force into the way we exercise we are actually harming the body rather than bringing any benefit to it so we are, as you say, really going against ourselves.
Actually it wasn’t until I started more of a cardio type exercising again that I was reminded how much I love to move in this way – and how much my body loves to move. Often I can spend a lot of my working day at my desk and so this type of exercise feels really supportive.
Fabulous Angela, thank you for sharing how important it is to not exercise according to a set structure but to instead honour what we feel in our bodies. Such a loving way to look after ourselves.
I have noticed that my commitment to exercise has developed and grown over time. I wanted something that would not take me too much time and that I could easily do regularly without compromising my plans for the day. So I started doing push ups, the first day I could not do more than a few push ups in a row which was fine and the same with sit ups, holding on to my leg in order to support my lower back area. I could as time went, increase this as my body naturally strengthened…. Today, four years later, I can see and feel the positive impact it has had on my body just by committing 5 to 10 mins everyday, feeling so much better and more energetic.
“It’s the commitment and connection to myself that’s important as the foundation for exercise, not necessarily the amount of time spent.” A very inspiring blog Angela. I can also say that since taking out the ‘must do’ or ‘have to’ from my exercise routine, it been so easy to sustain. When I’ve made it about supporting my body and looking after myself, it does not feel like a chore. Some days I do 30 minutes, others I may only do 10 minutes. Making it about how I feel changes everything and I feel fitter now and more at ease in my body than when I used to teach aerobics.
I’ve also had the experience of staying with the exercise for longer than I might have planned – particularly on a walk or in the pool. Its a lovely feeling to be enjoying the exercise, and not be bound by time but do what you feel.
Great blog Angela, I’ve just started to exercise with a couple of other ladies, we have fun and what is gorgeous too is to be able to see and feel each one of us working to how our bodies feel. I find it lovely to watch another person honouring their movement in this way.
That’s incredible Rosanna, and you raise an important point – exercise can be JOYFUL and fun! It need not be a burden, or just another ‘thing’ you can tick off the to-do list, because exercise offers us a way of both connecting to our body and building a physical foundation so that during the day we feel supported and able to carry out any tasks with absolute ease – therefore how could it ever be a burden? I find that no matter how I am feeling – tired, lonely, depressed, sad – if I create space for exercise I feel 100% better and my body doesn’t feel so hard and stiff.
I enjoy exercise now, I never used to, I found it a bore, I didn’t like gyms, I didn’t like the competition, so many things I didn’t like about what I perceived exercise to symbolise. However, I always loved to walk and I still do but I I have incorporated, stretching, the gym and swimming into my life and it does feel great.
I haven’t taken part in Danielle’s exercise groups, but they sound great. I have developed my own program of exercise where I swim or work out at home with weights. I have had to commit to doing six mornings a week because If I allow myself it would be too easy to bunk off a morning here and there. It has made a huge impact on my energy levels and general body strength. I used to feel the heaviness of my legs when going up stairs but now it feels very different – a lot easier and enjoyable even!
Just as Jeanette shared I too am doing the twice a week reconnect exercise program with Danielle Pirera and I love it. I had a hate/love relationship with exercising, from young age I was told to be stiff and not capable of doing gymnastics exercises. So I never enjoyed it in any way. Growing older I learned to push myself to do all kinds of yoga postures and later on in the fitness club. Never really enjoyed it but wanted to have the perfect body (this was the name of the fitness club I joined as well). Now I start to enjoy feeling me moving my body, doing the exercise I feel to do and how I feel to do it. Now and then I start to push myself and feel how my body responds with ache and contraction. Feeling what my body is asking me is everything I have to listen to, to come back to honouring myself and my body
Beautiful words, Annelies – “Feeling what my body is asking me is everything I have to listen to”. It really can be as simple as that – thank you.
Lately my exercise routine has slacked and the rigid thought of ‘I must exercise every day’ or for a set amount of time just sucks all the joy and fun out of it. Thus I have avoided picking it back up because why would I want to do something that feels like a drain and effort to do? Reading this blog from the approach or angle of supporting connection and feeling worthy in myself to give myself that time sounds much less like a drain and more encouraging to re-turn to exercise. Thank you.
I agree Fiona and such a personal relationship that I find amazing once explored.
This is a great blog. It busts so many myths about exercise and offers great honouring of ourself and our body. I love what you have expressed. I feel inspired to deepen my commitment to supporting my body in a similar manner. Very inspiring.
Thank you Golnaz, beautyfull expressed.
I always enjoy myself and my day when I start it out with some gentle exercise, it always feels like I am deepening my commitment to caring for myself when I do.
I agree Michelle – even my walk in the morning or evening I consider part of connecting with me and my body. My body loves it.
Very inspiring thank you Angela the importance of true exercise ,rythmn and support for ourselves feels lovely to read.
I agree Fiona, the same has been for me as well, I have been seeing that with exercise is it about ‘how I do it’, that way my body benefits from the exercise. I find that I actually end up with more energy and feel more present and focused throughout the day when i have done some exercise in the morning.
I’ve loved reading your blog Angela. It really strikes a cord with me as I relate to a lot of what you say about exercise. For me it tends to be the last thing I want to put into what already feels like a full on day. Now and then I begin a routine but after a while it soon falls by the wayside as there always seems to be other more important things to do. I’m oh so great with the excuses! I can really feel in your writing how developing this rhythm for yourself has supported you in connecting to and feeling more of what your body has to say. It’s great to hear that exercise can be playful too, and to be reminded that it’s not what we do or how much, but the quality in which we do it. Very inspiring – thank you.
Angela, your words have inspired me to start a more consistent exercise routine as I feel like I have swung to the opposite side of the spectrum after letting go of all the competitive sports I used to be involved with. What I notice is that when I do exercise,
it really gives me more energy and I feel better mentally too, as I have a physical job and it does support me to do so. I love how you have listened to your body and not allowed yourself to be driven by things like duration, reps, or other external pressures. It feels so much more natural!
Yes, Michael, I find different types of exercise support my body depending on the day I have had. If I’ve been sitting at a desk all day, there is nothing better than going for some cardio exercise like a swim. But if I have been very active and feeling physically tired, a nice walk at the end of the day can be just right.
Many years I went to the fitness club twice a week and I really went for it! I wanted to have a strong body and a good looking body, so I used a lot of willpower in the exercises I did. Now I know it increased the hardness I had all ready in my body, by wanting to be a superwoman: career, family, spiritual work and sports. All by pushing through with coffee, smoking, the occasional alcohol etc. Since 5 years this pattern has changed. I started to actually feel what my body needed and slowly developed another way of exercising. I don’t push anymore and can actually enjoy more what I do.
I also did several courses with Danielle and can feel that my body gets stronger. I still work on exercising regularly, and yes better to do 10 minutes twice a week than nothing at all! I hardly go to sportclubs anymore, just doesn’t feel supportive for now..
Awesome Simone, I can totally agree, and say that when I was exercising for a type of body, it was never enough because I wasn’t doing it for me and my general health.
“This has also helped me realise that it’s the commitment and connection to myself that’s important as the foundation for exercise, not necessarily the amount of time spent.” This is such a key point, once we’ve made the commitment to self then the pressure is off because you know you are doing something that supports you. Otherwise you are left constantly feeling a little worse for wear because you know you are abandoning yourself and it hurts. The excuses come but they never replace the feeling of truly honouring you.
This is a really great article busting the myths of how we have believed exercise to be.
Thank you Angela, I really enjoyed reading about the honouring of your body in how it feels each day, and to move and stretch in respect of this feeling, not to push through or override it.
Thank you for sharing Angela, I know exactly where you are coming from as I have found the same as you say: ‘I noticed that the busier I was, the more I was neglecting my exercise rhythm and routine’. It is a crazy trait we seem to carry that when things get busy we stop doing the things that most support us.
I agree James stopping something that can support us like exercise, because we are too busy does not make sense. I did this a few months ago and I noticed how much it affected not just my body but the rhythm of my day as I didn’t have the same focus that I did when I started my day with some stretches.
Exactly James, the more I delay or put off doing my exercises then I also feel the lack of support for my body in the day. To me I can feel the exact opposite is required, – the busier I am the more my body needs to stretch and exercise. Especially when I know the exercises are light and play-full as presented by Danielle Pirera. Thank you Angela great blog. As you suggest Angela !0 to 15 minutes is enough!
Thank you Angela for sharing this, I have been struggling with where to fit my exercise programme in to my day and I have realised I went the overwhelm of trying to do too much. Knowing that it is does not need to be done everyday or for any length of time takes the pressure off trying to fit my exercises in. After reading your blog I am going to start with just a few exercises and build from there so that they become a natural and enjoyable part of my rhythm.