When it comes to training – one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year — It’s easy to fall into self-doubt.
However, moving the body and finding ways to get active can be achieved without beating yourself up with unrealistic training plans or extreme dieting. The meaningful part of resolution is trying something new that feels right to you.
The Inquirer spoke to personal trainers, yoga teachers and an integrative hiking group from the Philadelphia area to understand how you can achieve your exercise resolutions without fear.
keep it simple Mariel Freeman, a leading Philly yoga teacher and founder of Yoga of the Three Queenssaid remembering that this process is simply “putting one foot in front of the other” and celebrating small victories is what will get you started.
“It doesn’t have to be grandiose, it just has to be habit,” Freeman said. “Rather than say, ‘I’m going to work out seven days a week for 30 days and do some kind of hardcore fitness challenge,’ think intent [with trying something new] – like going somewhere every day or stepping foot into a yoga studio or gym.”
Ask yourself how your goals will affect other areas of your life. Brandi Aulston, an avid hiker and founder of the women-led hiking group Hike and healsuggests analyzing how you will benefit from your goals and take action.
“What are your physical, mental and spiritual desires that affect all the other things you desire for yourself, your career and your relationships?” Aulston said.
Whether it’s being healthier, getting more time in the sun, or finding ways to meet new friends — nothing will work without knowing what you want for yourself, Aulston said.
Every routine will look different, but every expert we spoke to said that working on your body starts with working on your mind.
At the beginning and throughout the day, give yourself a chance to take three of the deepest breaths you can, Freeman said. Breathing is an integral part of yoga, but it is what it is relieves stress, lowers heart rate and stabilizes blood pressure.
Brandon RaSean, personal trainer and owner of for nearly a decade Brandon RaSean’s Gym, suggests reading more. Reading, especially fiction, stimulates the mind and lets the imagination run wild — which RaSean says will help you believe in yourself.
“Remember when you were a kid and you only read one book? You might wake up and be like, ‘I’m going to be an astronaut,'” RaSean said. “I feel like with that imagination, we can release self-doubt.”
Start stretching. With many working from home, there is a lot of sitting throughout the day. Freeman suggests “pandication‘ – which you’ll often see in cats and dogs – it stretches in a way that feels good, like a wake up and yawn stretch.
To stimulate these muscles by sitting all day, RaSean loves the overhead “broomstick” stretch. You don’t need a broomstick to do this, but it can help you get an idea of the intended movement.
“Imagine you’re reaching for a broomstick [horizontally], with your hands slightly wider than shoulder length, and just stretch them over your head to the back of your waist,” he said. “Basically, relax your shoulders and pull them back. It’s a great exercise to counteract imbalanced posture.”
For a bit of strength training, RaSean suggests the Farmer’s Carry. Grab two dumbbells or two bags and put some weighted objects inside and carry both with your arms fully extended. Keep your shoulders relaxed, chest back, and posture straight—then just take a short circuit around the block or on a trail.
A “glute bridge” is a great exercise to work the core muscles (abs and back), which helps with posture, balance and improved mobility, RaSean said. Lie on your back with your knees bent and use your heels to push your hips up and lift your stomach up with your core.
And for an all-time classic: walking. Erick DuPree, yoga instructor at Three Queens, suggests “a walk that might lead to a run [when you pass a] telephone pole, then on foot [when you reach the next] Poles. You run one pole and then walk two poles. Just starting to build into your body to do more.”
As you begin to engage in exercise, you are presented with so many tips, techniques, and rules. The experts break down some of the biggest misconceptions they encounter:
Mariel Freeman: You don’t have to be rich to exercise or do yoga—it’s free to do at home. “And if entry cost is a barrier, don’t be afraid to reach out to where you want to go and ask if there are other options,” Freeman said.
Erick DuPree: You don’t have to have a specific body to practice yoga. “There is a yoga class for each individual. There are yoga classes for people who have no limbs or who are in a wheelchair. It may not be in your nearest yoga studio, but there is a yoga class out there for you,” DuPree said.
Brandon RaSean: You don’t need a lot of time to train. “You don’t have to work out at 5 a.m. You don’t have to exercise five to seven days a week. All you need is about 15 minutes a day,” RaSean said. Also, sunlight is always good.
Sharne’ Burrell: Sport doesn’t always have to be work. “You should always find an activity or exercise that you don’t find work,” Burrell said. “I just love to dance through my house and my kitchen.” Roller skating, hula-hooping or walking – just move.