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I talk about balance a lot. Heck, it is this gym’s entire philosophy to be balanced emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. But breaking it down even further into physical fitness—there are so many aspects of this. What makes physical fitness?

I’m not lifting weights nearly as much as I was this time last year. This time last year, I had time. Lots of time. I was working “only” 50 hours per week, and going to the gym for an hour and a half once per day, 6-7 days per week. But what was I doing with all this time at the gym? Strength training. Just strength training. No warm ups, no cardio, no stretching, no correct breathing. Just lifting heavy things and putting them back down. I didn’t know how much damage I was truly doing.

After I took over the gym last May and continued to work my full-time job while running the gym all by myself, it was a struggle to find this much time. These 6-7 days per week turned into 2-3 days per week, and with my metabolism, that just wasn’t cutting it. At a point during the last year, I just said, “to hell with it,” and stopped for entire months at a time. 10 years of steady strength training, slowly vanishing away because of not having the time to keep up with what I wanted to. However, it was not only because of the lack of time, but because of the pain—the joint pain from lifting too heavily, and from the constant unintentional pulls of muscles that wouldn’t have happened if I had been doing the right thing in the first place.

There is only one thing that can account for bringing me back into the physical and mental willingness to start lifting again…

Yoga.

It took two wonderful instructors here at the gym, and now good friends, Alex and Carole, to show me that there are so many different sides of physical fitness other than just the obvious, strength training and cardio. Physical fitness itself has a mental aspect that I didn’t ever realize. A part that includes relaxing the muscles, relaxing the mind, and tuning into your body in ways you never have before.

In Carole’s class we are taught to mentally direct our breath into the muscle that we are trying to stretch as we hold poses.

In Alex’s class we are taught that one breath is one movement, and to utilize our breath to help us flow freely between these movements, or poses.

Both are absolutely essential, in their own respect, to showing me a happier, healthier way to lift weights. This time around, I am strength training just about half as much, but my body is so much happier doing so. Not only because the muscles are stretched and not in pain, but because I am so much more in tune with each muscle, linking each repetition to my breath. Once you are able to focus your breath specifically on one muscle, you will feel like you TRULY understand yourself and how your body works.

It is not only the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual balance that is important; but how each of these states can also help to balance out one another.