Today, I'm going to tell you how you can get healthy, strong and lean without pain.
Because as we age, one four-letter word can stop us from taking the healthy, strong, lean path. And that four-letter word is:
If you're like me, being more mature can mean more aches than when you were younger...
No matter how active you used to be.
Growing up, my family was always on the move. Exercise was a regular part of our daily activities...
Whether we were riding the bicycle-built-for-two or hitting the tennis ball or walking around the track that was down the hill from our house.
In high school, I was a cheerleader and tennis player. In college, I played intramurals and had a great time participating in flag football with my dorm-mates. I also became a runner, and a racquetball and handball player.
Exercise has always been my “go-to” for getting my blood pumping, relieving stress and making me feel confident and powerful.
Initially, it was all about how I felt. But I wanted to use exercise to shape my body as well.
Have you ever noticed how dancers have long, lean muscles and impeccable posture?
That’s what I wanted: to look like a dancer who was healthy, strong and lean.
Then, as I got older, parts of my body didn’t move the way they used to.
I’d have shoulder pain from being hunched over a keyboard all day…
I’d wake up with a cranky back or neck because I had slept wrong…
And my knees weren’t up to the challenges of high-impact anything anymore.
I knew I needed something that would stretch my muscles and strengthen my core...without pain.
One day, I picked up a free local magazine at the health food store. I saw an ad for a new Pilates studio that was opening right down the street from me.
I was intrigued, so I decided to give myself a 40th birthday gift:
6 weeks of private instruction with a Pilates expert.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. All I knew was that dancers did Pilates, so I figured that was a good start.
My instructor was named Robin, and I liked her immediately. We rolled out our mats, and she began teaching me the basics of Pilates from breathing to the way I held my body.
As we went along, she used imagery to help me picture what I wanted my body to look like as I moved.
That visualization helped me move my body in new ways, using muscles and joints that I never realized I had, even in yoga.
I was moving in a completely different way than I was used to.
Not painful, just...
At the end of my first lesson, I thought I was going to be sore the next day but I wasn’t. I actually felt refreshed.
During the week, I found myself gravitating toward the mat so I could get that feeling again.
I eagerly anticipated my next lesson because I felt so good and I just wanted that feeling to continue.
After a few weeks, I noticed my constant shoulder pain wasn’t as intense…
I didn’t wake up as often with back or neck pain...
I started walking differently. I felt lighter...
And my knees didn’t hurt!
Then, after a few months of doing Pilates, I went for my annual physical and my doctor told me I had grown an inch.
Yep. Pilates improved my posture to the point where I grew an inch. At 40 years old!
It also trimmed down parts of me that I had given up hope for.
As a pear-shaped woman, I carry my weight in my hips and thighs. But doing Pilates tightened and toned those saddlebags and wobbly bits in just a few months.
I kept doing my Pilates practice at home. Later on, I went to the studio to try out the apparatuses: the Reformer, the Chair, the Tower and more.
While I enjoyed the variety, I still loved matwork the most. I could fit 15 minutes of Pilates easily into my day.
I noticed it was also making me stronger for the other activities I enjoyed while living in Colorado: hiking, cycling, skiing, etc.
Though I kept doing the matwork over the years, I wanted to "spice up" my regular routine.
So in 2019, I started looking for some online Pilates classes. I wanted something I could do at home when taking a break from my work day.
The first membership I found was overwhelming — there were just too many videos and not any organization to them.
Another only provided visual cues — They didn’t give verbal cues, which is really important if you want students to continue moving without having to look at the screen.
The last one was just unsafe instruction — She was saying to do things that I knew were potentially dangerous and could cause injury.
Disappointed, I went back to doing my matwork routine on my own.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, I kept asking myself, “How can I be better at the end of all this?”
(Of course, that was when we were thinking it would be only a month or two.)
I was determined to find Pilates classes online. I needed a way to get a daily energy boost beyond walking, plus I needed something to help me survive the boredom of the quarantine.
That’s when I discovered The Balanced Life.
I signed up, rolled out my mat and hit “play.” When the instructor started talking, I liked her immediately just as I did my first Pilates instructor. (Fun fact: Both of them are named Robin!)
I started following her instructions and was impressed with the way she guided me from one movement to the next.
After that session, I investigated the membership and realized it gave me everything the other memberships didn’t:
I joined The Balanced Life in March of 2020 and now, I feel stronger and healthier than I did in my 50s.
In spite of what our culture tells us, life is more about how you feel and the quality of life you enjoy than how you look.
I believe The Balanced Life can help you like it helped me, no matter where you are on the workout spectrum…
Pilates will benefit you whether you’re an exercise beginner, a weekend warrior or somewhere in-between.
The Balanced Life instruction is top-notch, offering you a starter series and tutorials to show you the correct way to do the exercises.
The membership provides modifications for those cranky parts of you (the knees for me!), so you can workout effectively in spite of things like hip replacements or shoulder issues.
It’s also great for rehab from injuries. I did Pilates when I was recovering from a compound fracture to my tibia and fibula (ouch!)...
I couldn’t walk, but I was doing Pilates daily to refresh my mind and body!
One of my favorite things about The Balanced Life is the mantra of “Grace Over Guilt.”
This is a beautiful way to approach the health and wellness journey, especially as we age.
It means you choose to extend grace to yourself as you learn new things and create new habits.
It also means you don’t beat yourself up for skipping a workout or not doing everything perfectly. If that happens, you release those thoughts, get back to the mat and start fresh.
There’s a wonderful community on Facebook where you can ask questions and get support, and the membership also provides new healthy recipes every month.
There are 2 advantages to using my affiliate link when joining:
I don't offer recommendations lightly. I only recommend products or services that I've thoroughly evaluated, to make sure they're providing great value. And value is what The Balanced Life is bringing to the table.
This membership can help you “do the things you need to do so you can feel the way you want to feel.” (another Balanced Life mantra)
Because at this age, strengthening our bodies and our minds play a huge role in how we feel.
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Until next time...
Have a Refreshing and Peaceful Day, Z
#thebalancedlife #pilates #nopain #antiaging