Does your workout care about you? 5 Elements of a workout that cares for your body.

I have been thinking a lot lately about care, and what it means to take care of our bodies with movement.

Care is an act of devotion and gratitude. When you care for something, you acknowledge that something ~ that person, plant, building, bicycle, guitar, pair of shoes ~ as valuable and worthy of your benevolent regard. When you care for your own body, you honor all that comes along with being an embodied creature. You say, "These muscles and bones are worth keeping strong. These teeth are worth keeping clean. This stomach deserves healthy food. This brain deserves time to rest. This skin matters. These hands matter. This ability to stand and walk and see and hear and sing and taste and feel and think and create… this matters." When you care for your body, you care for your life.

When we make care our primary concern, our workouts take on a unique quality, different than if our focus was solely physical appearance or sports performance. This isn't to say the that you can't create a beautiful looking body or achieve great athlete feats while caring for you body. You can. But you can also create a beautiful looking body and achieve great athletic feats while treating your body poorly in the process.

What are some ways to elevate a workout from an average day at the gym to a devoted act of care?

A workout that cares for the body…

  • Is a lot easier than you might think. Fitness culture would have you believe that exercise needs to be extremely intense and leave you exhausted and potentially sore for days in order to "count" as an effective workout. This isn't true. My clients make tremendous progress and I never aim to kick their proverbial butts. This applies to my own workouts as well. Sane and steady exercise is the best way to care for your body.
  • Takes place {nearly} everyday. When it comes to caring for your body with exercise, consistency matters more than intensity. You can't floss your teeth just once and expect them to stay clean for the rest of your life. You can't water your garden just once and have it thrive for years. Likewise, you can't workout sporadically once in awhile and expect your body to reap the rewards of exercise. A body is meant to move and do so daily.
  • Begins from a place of gratitude. A caring workout emphasizes what you have and does not obsess about fixing your perceived body flaws.
  • Leaves you wanting more. It isn't caring to force yourself to do something that you hate because you feel like should do it. There are so many ways to exercise and no reason you can't find something to do that you enjoy. This isn't to say that exercise has to be the most exciting thing you do all day {although it's pretty great if it is the most exciting thing you do all day}, but your workout shouldn't bore you nor should it be something that you dread.
  • Balances and refreshes your nervous system. If you are tired, you should leave your workout feeling energized. If you are stressed, you should leave your workout feeling calm and clear. You should not feel deflated or agitated after a workout. Movement should always follow the Goldilocks principle: Not too easy, not too hard, just right.