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Today I would like to discuss relationships. On a fitness and nutrition website. Yes, really. Specifically how our individual relationship with exercise begins, how to assess whether it is healthy, and how to repair our exercise relationship if it is not healthy.

What is YOUR relationship with exercise?

I am a life-long mover (I’ve kind of stopped using the word exercise, because it is such a charged word for so many, and words really do matter.) In my yoga studio, the students who have been with me for three years and counting are also life-long movers, whether they began at age 5, or at age 50 when they stepped foot into the classroom. What is it that changes a start-stop exerciser to a life-long mover? It’s the relationship, every time. Here’s what I mean:

If you asked a life-long mover why they have been so consistent, they will probably say some or all of the following:

“I just can’t focus if I have not moved my body”

“Movement makes me feel good about my body”

“Movement clears my head”

“I go a little crazy if I haven’t exercised in a couple of days”

“Moving my body is fun the way I’ve chosen to do it”

“I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for the other people in my Zumba/yoga/sculpting/pilates/circuit/Crossfit class”

(Notice the lack of anything related to weight loss or how much weight someone can bench-press?)

Creating a good relationship with exercise

So, when movement works on a consistent basis for a person, it is a joy-filled, judgement-free, connection time with her body and her mind,sometimes the connection includes other humans or pets, and thusly, her spirit gets boost as well. When we describe it like that, how could exercise NOT be a wonderful place to hang out?

In order to continue to be a joy-filled experience, our movement must also evolve with us. Oftentimes the exercise that appealed to us in our 20’s is not the same as what fits in our 40’s.

For example, I hope to always be a skier. For me, there is no other activity that quite matches the exhilaration I feel when I am hurling myself down a mountain at top speed. However, if I continued to engage in hair-on-fire types of workouts when I wasn’t skiing, I would annihilate my knees, hips, and back, thereby making skiing impossible. So, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve switched my exercise from high-impact, interval, group cycling, or group strength workouts to yoga, pilates, and my own weight training sessions, plus lots of walking and outdoor cycling. Anymore, I just want to make sure everything works right the next day, while still allowing me to find some good-feeling exertion threshold and lots of flexibility.

So, if you have struggled to maintain an exercise routine, look at the relationship piece of the routine. Does your exercise plan feel like a nagging partner or an overbearing boss? Or perhaps a demanding, perfectionist parent? If that’s the case, no one can blame you for wanting to leave that relationship. Create a new one.

Base your plan off of what FEELS good in your body on any given day, and only do it for as long as it feels good. Some days, that might be a short walk on a flat road. Some days, that might be showing yourself just how strong you are with push-ups, pull-ups, and power squats. Do the things (find the things? Experiment with the things?) you enjoy, allow yourself to change what you enjoy over time, and I promise you will always enjoy the relationship you have with YOUR movement.

Take care, and see you on the mat!


Leah Murtagh

Owner, Embrace The Wobble Yoga

Robbinsdale, MN