Exercise is only a small part of our day
We all get the nagging message from our doctors and from the media to exercise regularly. Yet even if we do so, for many people exercise only counts for a small part of the day. How could you possibly extend the benefits and that great feeling from your short workout to your workplace and at home?
Your body's metabolism will naturally stay elevated after your finish your cardio or toning session. Your stronger abs - if you have worked on that - will likely help you to maintain better posture as well. Yet does your workout offer other portable techniques that you can use throughout the day?
Extending Essentrics techniques to daily activities / non-activity
In Essentrics we move in a way that mimics daily movements. This makes the program a functional workout. Yet many of the techniques from Essentrics can also cross pollinate outside the confines of the gym/studio. Here are some easy examples:
- Pull in & pull up. During Essentrics we often pull in our abs and pull up our spine. This engages our abs to balance and strengthen our core. It also lengthens the spine and together this pulling in and pulling up help us to maintain good posture and spinal health. (Does back pain sound familiar?) We can easily apply these techniques to sitting at the desk, standing, and walking - they aren't just for ballerinas! Even when we are running and jumping, if we keep pulling in and pulling up, we will feel lighter and land more lightly, reducing the impact on our knees and ankles.
- Feet flat on the floor. In Essentrics we keep our feet flat on the floor during movements, using the triangles of our feet like tripods to stay balanced and well supported. What this means is that we neither stand on the outside or the inside of our feet. (Most of us tend of stand on the inside of our feet, flattening and losing the arch.) If we carry this stable feet habit into our daily lives when we are standing we ensure that the inner and the outer leg muscles, plus the leg muscles in the front and the back, are balanced. By extension, the back muscles will benefit, because our muscles are connected in chains. The lower back muscles are connected to the legs through the pelvis, where some of the leg muscles originate.
- Find a way to move, even if you are sitting. The common recommendation of getting up to move every 30 minutes is impractical! Few of us can do so. But there are ways to move and stretch even if you don't have the luxury to take a break.
- Borrowing from the "Shoulder Blast" in Essentrics, you can slowly round the spine and tuck your pelvis, then pull in your abs and pull up your spine, and then go further to arch your spine and open your chest. This rounding, lengthening, and arching gives motion to the spine and helps you stay awake. If space permits you can add the arms as well - round the spine and tuck your tail bone, then as your lengthen the spine, gently reach one arm up and then the other. This opens the rib cage. Then bend the elbows, press the hands back and down to open the chest.
- You can also work your feet at your desk or while potato-ing in the couch by kicking off your shoes and rotate your ankles in both directions. Break the tension in your feet and boost your energy by pointing and flexing your feet. This works not only the muscles and joints in the feet but also the lower leg muscles, which control feet movements.
- Do stretch your fingers and rotate your wrists. Similar to what we do in Essentrics when we tone our arms, hold your fists tight and then imagine shooting a ball out. Or simply curl and then extend your fingers. Rolls your wrists around in both directions. These loosen your joints and work the forearm muscles.
Life and health are more than just about working out
These are just a few of the many ways to apply Essentrics directly to our daily lives. If we do Essentrics several times a week, we will over time naturally internalize those techniques into habits. Even if we can't do so, by extending the techniques and movements into our regular activities/non-activity, by fostering them into habits, we can maximize the benefits of the workout without laboring for hours in the gym. (If we enjoy it and can afford it, that's a different matter.) How we exercise is important, yet how we carry our bodies when we aren't working out also counts!