Finding your perfect exercise
Number three: Body-balance
If you love the thought of developing the flexibility of a child, while adding the toning of Pilates, along with the uplift of movement and soul-calming music – and then add a good dose of relaxation, then Body-balance just might be for you.
This is not a classic fitness exercise and so might be best done in combination with weight training for bone density and aerobic exercise for cardio-vascular health. That said, two sessions of this a week will certainly enhance the other critical factor to fitness over 45 – suppleness.
Most of us look back in wonder at how we used to leap out of bed, run up the stairs, lift things off shelves, wiggle our hips when dancing (or even just dancing). As we get older, cricky knees, sore ankles, creaky backs and stiff joints become more common. There is some evidence that much of this is due to internal inflammation. If you want an excellent biological explanation then read Dr. Frank Lipman’s book, 10 reasons you get old and fat. However, the other reason is that we stop moving, stretching and using our joints properly. We lug around lap-tops, slouch in front of screens, drive rather than walk. How often do you really stretch your muscles? Probably only after exercise and sometimes not even then. The result is that our muscles bunch, our joints seize and we get stiffer day by day. If you do not address this then one day you will walk past a shop window and think ‘who is that old lady?’ – just by the way you are walking.
So – get moving.
Body-balance sessions last an hour and start with a warm up exercise of stretching, swinging, sweeping your arms and lengthening your spine. Then into classic yoga with the sun salutation. If you think this is a hippy-dippy exercise, think again – it requires flexibility, upper body strength, leg strength and strengthens the core. First time Body-balancers often cannot do the full five repetitions.
The mid-section of the session is a series of exercises including core crunches, balance, limb-stretching and lengthening. A rhythm is kept going by moving with the music and the lilting instructions of the leader. Yoga poses are blended with Pilates and stretch. If you look around there will be a whole range of ability from those who barely tough their toes to others who can bend their limbs into The Mermaid while most of us are delighted to manage a DownDog and Cobra.
The final section is a guided relaxation. Filled with positive affirmation. By the time you reach the peaceful wish of Anastai you are floating on air and feel as if your limbs are inches longer.
So, in short, Body-balance will not turn you into a cardio-vascular champion – aut it will move our limbs, increase flexibility, lengthen muscles and help you sculpt.
A good and gentle addition to any exercise regime and definitely one for any Sassista who loathes the sweat of the gym.