Yee-es We Can
May 21, 2014 5:20 PM   Subscribe

I have a tough time finding the exercise routine I'll stick with consistently. I'm hoping for some recommendations of things to try based on some likes/dislikes – particularly keeping in mind my love for Rodney Yee's "Yoga Burn" video...

- Dancing. Even cardio routines that are even kind of verging on dancing (for example, I tried a kettlebell + cardio video which had one too many "toe taps" in it for my liking)
- Running. I wish I loved it because I like long walks in the neighborhood, but nope
- Too much kneeling. I bruise very easily and this tends to DQ some yoga routines
- Cultish environments, yelling, club music, "spin class"
- Nike Training (and similar apps) is a bit too scattershot for me. I don't feel like I'm doing any one of the moves well enough to be worth the time

- Slower paced yoga, especially the aforementioned Yee video, but also "basic" IRL classes and vanilla yoga studios - not sure if there are other varieties better suited to my needs
- I don't mind lifting some hand weights or doing squats at home, but yawn
- Small group instruction. Too small and I am terrified, too big and I feel like it's a competition

- Find a specific type of class or studio (Brooklyn or downtown Manhattan?) that I can stick with
- Try out some more at-home videos I can do with a yoga mat, some blocks, and some dumbbells
- Work on core/back strength to help some back pain
- Get rid of my wee pot belly

What do you fitness folks think?
posted by thirdletter to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Let's talk about the phenomenology first.

It's often told that the timeline to make a habit is 21 days. This bit of intellectual history is owed to Maltz's Psycho-Cybernetics, which took it from the author's experiences with amputation patients and the like, and how long it took them to adjust.

Now, imagining that you're not an amputation patient, somebody ended up doing a regression on how long it takes for a habit in the abstract: that is, somebody took people who wanted to start doing a bunch of habits and asked them how habit-ish the habit felt. The average time to actually make a habit feel like one is 66 days, but the range is from 18 to more than 84 days. (, it's behind a paywall I think) Missing one opportunity doesn't affect the habit formation process: missing a week does. A steady progression towards the desired goal of automaticity (that is, having it be a real habit, something that you specifically don't need to think to do) only happens in about half of people: in the other half, the story is less clean.

Using a statistical regression method, because the study only lasted 84 days, it turns out that if automaticity increased as slowly as it did in some people, and assuming an asymptotic progression towards automaticity in your habits, habits can take up to 250 days to take. So that's the pessimistic estimate. Don't give up.

That is a very abstract point, but probably the first point to take into mind if your goal in exercise is consistency. Consistency in exercise is strictly equal to making the exercise a habit, do you not agree? Therefore, keep that expectation in mind when you choose. You won't get a full habit from some 1-month class, or it won't be likely.

I've seen women have more progress with heavy weights than light weights, because they are significantly less boring than light weights, and not that dangerous if you learn them right. To look like female bodybuilders is probably not a desired end state: to avoid this end state, avoid taking supplemental testosterone. One of the better resources on the web is
posted by curuinor at 5:57 PM on May 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

I used to lift weights, go for long runs, nothing came of it... so I'm not "fitness folk". Personally I don't think gym-based exercise can ever become truly habitual given it's away from your everyday life and requires self-compulsion and drive to both get to and accomplish... if I could only brush my teeth in a gym I would struggle to develop tooth-brushing as a habit, no matter how many mornings in a row I did it for I would still need to motivate myself to get to that gym, pick up that brush.

Every weekday morning though my partner and I will do the 7 minute workout together. All up, about 10 minutes of fun and a burst of energy that we've stuck with for a year now.

It's worked for us because it is quick, simple (really the same calisthenics my grandfather learned in the army) and provides what feels like the ideal balance between exertion and basic toning, as part of a normal daily routine rather than a separate "sacrifice". I now regard getting and staying fit as just part of a rewarding and ongoing daily habit, not a goal or campaign.

Results may vary and exercise seems to really wind up the internet, but for me: I was slightly tubby and wheezy, I've lost about 10kg, can happily do a hundred pushups and feel fit and refreshed, my partner looks and feels great (far stronger and leaner), and we both still "hate exercise". I don't think I could have formed the habit if we'd needed equipment, or to visit the gym... the secret has been that it's a very small and beneficial block of your time that adds to your day, not distracting from it.

We supplement our exercise with long walks, and occasional yoga for flexibility and to relax, the social aspects of a good workout/sports/gym etc are great and I think should be embraced but separate from your new "habit".
posted by Wonton Abandon at 6:50 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I noticed that you said you like walking. Why not just experiment with doing a serious walk 5 x a week? And maybe stop trying to get rid of your pot belly. Just exercise because it feels great! Your pot belly will resolve itself. Self loathing isn't required.
posted by Gray Skies at 8:22 PM on May 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Fair responses, but I was really hoping for some fun classes, specific yoga studios/styles to try my hand at...
posted by thirdletter at 5:35 AM on May 22, 2014

I'm a yoga beginner, but I avoid Vinyasa which means there's a lot more flow/movement and up/down. I look for the classes that are just called Yoga or Hatha.

I know one of the people that run this studio in the NYC area, and their focus seems to be fitting to different body types/styles, so they may fit or may be able to tell you a place that would. (I have never attended as I don't live in NYC anymore.)

I have some similar preferences and enjoyed pilates mat classes. This book/CD was helpful if you do a pilates mat class. It's not a DVD but the illustratations and audio are enough to follow if you have taken a beginners pilates class recently.
posted by typecloud at 8:11 AM on May 22, 2014

I think I am somewhat like you exercise-wise in terms of likes/dislikes. Like typecloud above, I don't care for vinyasa, which is sometimes marketed as "power yoga" and offered in health clubs. Those classes are full of 20 year olds who can lick their spines where I live. When I have taken them out of desperation/convenience the teachers are like "R U OK?" every time I take a break. Yeah, I'm fine, I just cannot pinwheel into a headstand without breaking a hip, ok?

There's an offshoot (sort of, I am not a yoga pro) of older practices called viniyoga. It has somewhat of a "flow" style, but it's slower paced and my classes have always been with people of various body types, from slim to fat to injured, and a mix of ages, but skewing from 30s to 60s here in my city. I've never been to a viniyoga class where they insisted I read some literature, eat only lentils, tithe half my savings, or hold down dog longer than my body will allow that day.

I found a maybe helpful page here about types. Now if I could only find a good viniyoga DVD. My closest and favorite studio that offers early morning immersion classes has been taken over by some teachers I don't care for.

Good luck OP!
posted by Lardmitten at 9:03 AM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

You are looking for Pilates. I think that would be the exact match for you.
posted by 3dd at 9:11 AM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Traditional yoga classes would be great for you. Sorry, I don't have recommendations in New York, but classes that are labeled "hatha" or are traditional in some way should be good; you probably want to avoid power yoga, Bikram, etc (IMO not good for everyone anyway.)

Also, how about Tai Chi? Swimming?
posted by bearette at 9:26 AM on May 22, 2014

You can try out "yoga to the people" studios. You pay a donation instead of a class fee, based on what you can afford. Couple locations in Manhattan. At least you can try it out without shelling out a huge amount of money. They are usually packed but pretty judgement free.
posted by kmr at 1:33 PM on May 22, 2014

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