fitness, yoga


game boxes for SmashUp NetRunner and Unexploded Cow

Okay for a card game, but …

“Jillian Michaels’ BodySHRED class is coming to the Y!”

So read the post for one my local Y locations, in Facebook. A few months ago there as a similar post for a class called “R.I.P.P.E.D.” I expect BodyREND, then BodyDETONATE to be on that schedule in the future.

What is this love affair with masochism, with fitness marketing? Do we all need punishment? Does bleeding offer a kind of romance that is otherwise unavailable in this life? Have we all suddenly found destruction to be as utterly fascinating as little boys do?

It’s just … funny. For the most part, I enjoyed the R.I.P.P.E.D. class, but it took some heavy lobbying from a favorite fitness instructor to get me there. As a yoga teacher who sometimes struggles with what to name my classes so that they appeal to a wider audience than “Vinyasa Yoga” would, I understand the struggle with naming a class. Still, for me, something simpler like “Kettlebells” or “Strong” would have stronger appeal. Keep it simple, and don’t remind me of the temporary soreness that will likely ensue. Let me focus on the task at hand or the end goal. Invite me to keep my intention in mind.

I’m now in the middle of a 12-week stress reduction course at work. The weekly class and daily home exercises have me exploring various mindfulness practices and reading Search Inside Yourself. The book offers up several useful tips or perspectives, including a new one on “intention.”

hanging basket flowers

Farmer’s Market Fleurs

“Setting an intention” is something I’ve written about on this blog once or twice. It has been kind of a murky area for me in my yoga teaching, as I want to provide guidance in my classes that gives people options, but I also want to add some specificity to keep things interesting and timely. It’s also been a little spotty in my own practice. “Intention” sounds an awful lot like “goal” to me, and isn’t yoga about being in the moment? Aren’t goals about keeping score? More often than not, my intention is more of a devotion or an inspiration: some mechanism to get me focused for at least a breath or two, possibly even for part or all of a class. Some devotions I’ve chosen include: gratitude, contentment, a beautiful flower that I saw that day, thoughts about or toward a friend who is battling sickness or terrible news.

In the book, Meng suggests that an intention is a way to orient your mind, while preparing for a mindfulness practice, such as meditation. The idea is to consider what brings you to your practice that day – what is the reason (picking just one) you are practicing?

This opens up a lot of options, such as: I’m taking care of myself. Joy. I need some time for me today. Celebrate the warm sunshine, finally. I need to stretch. I need a break from my desk. Calm. 

So, the class has been beneficial in at least one way. I signed up for it not so much because I have high stress that needs attention, but because I like to learn. The most surprising revelation, lately: how my training in art school (and possibly in liberal arts college as well) was particularly similar to some of the exercises we’ve been doing. Artists need to be aware, and to understand perception… no real shocker, there. I feel fortunate to already have this in my toolkit.

What motivates you to choose a fitness class, or any other kind of new wellness activity, for that matter? Please share in the comments!