For the majority of my life, I have been obsessed with exercise. I was a ballet dancer, competed on a national dance team and began group fitness classes as a young teen. When I was in my 20s and 30s, I was devoted to two-a-day-workouts. It was all about competition, how many workouts I could get in and how many calories I could burn. Once a week, I did barre, yoga or Pilates as my recovery and to balance the hardcore, intense workouts I was doing. I didn’t need anyone to motivate me. I just did it myself every day.
But now, a few weeks from turning 45, my body can’t endure the pounding of box jumps and running, and I’m not going to risk injuring myself trying to keep up with my younger self and the workouts I did in my 20s. Now, I have to ask myself, “Can I do it at all?”
Exercise is not about competing to the point of injury, it is more about creating strength, stability and flexibility. It is about what I can do, reconnecting with my inner core, not about burning calories or competing.
Honestly, I began dropping the no pain, no gain outlook in my early 40s. I began to listen to my body and realize that as I get older, I will be benefit in the long-term by accepting I have limitations that I cannot ignore.
Now, I enjoy more barre, yoga sculpt and spin. Rather than barre and yoga equalizing the intense attack of impact to my body, I try to make them a regular part of my fitness routine. I find that I need a little more push in my 40s; group fitness classes keep me motivated. I schedule my classes for the week on Sunday, then mark them on my calendar as an appointment.
Realizing the workouts of your 20s aren’t best for your body today? Here are a few things that worked for me:
Accept who you are now.
It’s a fact of life that we all get older. Get honest with yourself about what your body is really capable of. To avoid injury, modify the workout you did in your 20s for something lower impact and more suitable for a 40-year-old body. Accept and celebrate what you can do and let go of what you can’t.
Stop competing against your younger self.
Exercise doesn’t have to be what it used to be. Sometimes, I get frustrated for not being as strong or as fast as I used to be. But I found exercises that are still challenging without the risk of injury. The key is consistent exercise that works for your body where it is – not where it used to be, or where you wish it were. As long as you’re getting a good workout, that’s what counts.
Figure out the right exercises for where you are now, and try something new.
Were you a runner and now you feel it in your knees every time your feet hit the ground? Try a spin class instead (those spin instructors are crazy – wink wink)! You’ll still get the cardio benefits, but your knees won’t be in agony when you’re done.
If you need to watch pushing your heart rate too hard, take a full body sculpting class. Your whole body will be moving and your heart rate will go up without pushing it to the limit.
Exercise is supposed to support your life, not be the thing that sets you up for knee replacement surgery in your 60s. It’s about taking care of your body at whatever stage it’s in. When it comes to exercise, it’s important to act our age.