Forget high-intensity interval training. More and more people are realising that easy-going, thoughtful exercise can have surprising benefits
This year, the Harper’s Bazaar list of” best new fitness trends and classes to try for 2018″ included an incongruous addition. At No 7, wedged between hula-hoop body-toning sessions and trampoline fitness classes, was ” walking”- plain, old-fashioned walk-to, that anyone can do for free. It seemed an odd option of “new” activity to highlighting in a list of fitness trends.
The idea that walking is suddenly fashionable appears, at first, to be at odds with everything we’re told about where fitness is running- and the pace at which people want to be doing it. A worldwide survey of fitness trends shows that high-intensity interval educate( HIIT) is the most popular fitness tendency in the west this year. In the UK, spinning is most popular, according to an industry report from UKActive and DataHub.
Of course, the idea of fast, intense, time-efficient exercising that delivers insta-results fits in with how we find ourselves: as people whose lives are the busiest in world history.” I went for a walk” absence the heroic ring of:” I merely killed myself doing 50 burpees .” However, a deeper look at how people are exerting or, more importantly, want to be exert, indicates a different tendency: a move away from the quick fix, back to slower( although not inevitably less difficult ), more measured forms of fitness. “Conscious” is the word I kept coming across while researching such articles:” conscious motion”,” conscious flowing”,” conscious control “. Imagine the opposite of lunging your, perhaps uncoordinated body around a fitness class at high speed: that’s conscious motion. The idea is that, if you’re “conscious”, you’re doing whatever it is that you’re doing to your body with accuracy and a full awareness of the physical mechanisms at work- yin yoga is conscious, rugby is not.
More importantly, it’s also about being self-aware enough to see the big picture, diagnosing your physical, spiritual and emotional requires. As you step back from your once-a-week spinning class you might become aware, for example, that you’re still a stressed, underslept passenger with a bad shoulder, dull scalp, uneven muscle tone, a spine that has morphed itself into the exact shape of your office chair, an iffy diet and a soulless box-set habit. Having ascertained these things, consciously, you would then go about, best-case scenario, reconfiguring your lifestyle accordingly.
The upper-class trainer David Higgins delivers bad news, however, for anyone who is hoping consciousness might mean not having to do any workout at all.” The gym ,” he says” is not a substitute for lack of activity during the course of its week. It’s not,’ OK, I’ve been sitting on my arse or lying on my back for 23 hours of the day and then I’m going to go to the gym for an hour .” Higgins was the first person I heard use the word” conscious motion “.” I don’t think most people have heard of it. I think it’s a new thing even though it’s been around for ever. I believe, eventually, people are realising that they don’t have to necessarily kill themselves to get major, meaningful outcomes .”
Higgins develops performers and stuntmen and women for feature films( including Wonder Woman and Mission Impossible ). Samuel L Jackson says he was physically violated when he began working with Higgins and credits him with” patiently and caringly[ putting] me together again “. I feel that, because of this and his pilates and yoga background, Higgins probably knows more about health and wellbeing than the average trainer. His favourite two terms are” mitigate against”- something he insists you must do to whatever in your life that may be damaging you. Whether it’s the amount of blue light radiating from your computer screen or the strain put on your back by your desk job, you need to mitigate against it. This, he acknowledges, probably means giving your life” a bit of a reset “.” Get your arse out of the chair, pull your chin back, give yourself a bit of a doubled chin when you’re on the phone or the computer. Pull your shoulders up and down. Stand up and go for a stroll at lunchtime: get 20 minutes of sun on your skin. It’s the little things that are going to stimulate the biggest change and if you do go to that spinning class, that’s the cherry on top. The big win is what you are doing outside of the gym .”
The way we’re living is not anatomically sustainable, he says. We should be integrating conscious motion into every region of our lives: lateral lunges in front of the TV; rolling on our backs like children to loosen up our spines, to give two examples.
” If you can find something that maybe takes you into your body a little bit more, then I’m all for it, rather than trying to fleeing from the tensions of life. Kind of internalise things a little bit and say,’ How do I feel? What is my body saying to me right now ?'”
He says that HIIT is a quick fix whose practitioners often don’t have adequate control over their bodies to execute it safely.” That’s not where I’m coming from. I’m interested in longevity, postural control and a pain-free lifestyle. We are all going to have to look a little bit more inwards if we are going to survive and live a happier, healthier, more pain-free life .”