Just move folks and quit arguing about what is the best form of fitness!!
Fitness, a 7 letter word which I get asked about on a regular basis. What is fitness?? Simply put, It's the quality or state of being fit. There are a boatload of options which we use to achieve a high level of being physically fit. Kind of like being an athlete: we think of it as running, jumping, swimming, lifting, hand eye coordination, endurance, stamina, breathing as well as the mental aspect.
I'm going to include a handful of options, which in some cases aren't considered "fitness." Among them, Barre and Yoga. The other's I will feature are running, strength training and CrossFit. Without a further ado:
Barre Class- It is an activity that's for sure. Fairly low impact on your joints, it will absolutely increase your flexibility and will probably cause you to break a sweat in 60 minutes. That being said, it's difficult to build strength, power, an increase in speed or pure functional movement.
There isn't enough going on from a muscle stimulation standpoint to truly "tone yourself" just doing Barre. Is it fun?? That's relative and i'm sure it is to quite a few. If you are looking to sweat a little and become limber, this is for you. I will say NOT to expect toned body parts after weeks of this class however. I also have never seen a male in a barre class (am I judging here ladies??)
Yoga- I am personally a fan of yoga. It also will increase your flexibility and mobility. It teaches you to breathe properly, relax your mind and find your "Chakra". You will be restored physically and mentally after a few sessions and I'm impressed by the balance demonstrated by the teachers and advanced Yogi's.
This being said, it's also quite difficult to truly build strong, lean and toned muscle tissue. Your cardiovascular system is also spared here, so you probably won't see a performance boost running, biking etc. I advocate Yoga for those who are looking for a low impact activity to do and are looking to improve their general flexibility and relieve stress. Just don't look for a dramatic change in your body's muscle tissue.
Running-You can get in phenomenal aerobic shape by running. Whether it's sprints (which will increase your metabolism/anaerobic base) or jogging which is quite healthy for your ticker.(heart) You do have to be careful about overactive quadriceps and knee issues from consistent pounding on your joints.(especially in 5K runners all the way up to marathoners.)
Balance this by incorporating hamstring exercises in a bodybuilding program. Work smarter not harder, listen to your body's cues. Run at different speeds, allow your nervous system to recover and take a day or 2 off. There are a fair amount of cons to strictly running:
1. If overdone, can cause muscle loss, power output and strength loss.
2. It can decrease good hormones such as growth hormone, testosterone and can increase bad hormones such as cortisol.
3. Running also can convert your body to rely on being a “sugar burner” instead of a “fat burner”. Train the appropriate conditions according to your body and add some weight training in as well!
Weightlifting- This is where it all started for me. Granted when I achieved losing 60 pounds all those years ago, it started with Pushups, sprints and running (Plus quitting drugs, severely limiting alcohol consumption, stopped eating junk foods, quit drinking soda, drank water more than anything and consumed many more vegetables. Let's add protein in there too: See...it can be done 🙂 )
Back to weightlifting, strength training increases your bone density, improves posture, retain and gain lean muscle (toned) tissue, decreases body fat, provides functional strength for everyday activities. (Hey, those 4 grocery bags are a LOT lighter and easier to carry!).
It also increases muscle endurance and can prevent some cardiovascular diseases such as Sarcopenia from invading your body.
A couple of cons I see in this would be lack of proper form would prevent injuries (lifting too heavy and in an awkward fashion) as well as your aerobic capacity isn't finely tuned. (A.K.A. you're not Usain Bolt)
Mix in some form of cardio (your choice) to maintain a healthy heart and superb aerobic system.
Crossfit- What I mix in for my training. It's a combination of weightlifting, gymnastic movements and cardio exercises to maintain and "Forge Elite Fitness". For me, I love the athletic and competitive component. Going against a clock to finish your workout is part of Crossfit. You HAVE to maintain correct form to ensure your repetitions count. It's a test each and every single day to improve your overall fitness and your weaknesses will be exposed quickly.
You may be an average indoor rower or can't do a handstand pushup but you may be able to squat 500 pounds. If you are great at everything, you'll be able to compete at a high level. If you aren't afraid of pushing your limits nearly every day, this is for you.
They also DO perform strength training movements.
Strict pullups, pushups, squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, hamstring exercises, sometimes bench pressing. The strict pullups build the strength so you can execute "kipping" pullups if there is a workout which requires doing a lot of pullups in the quickest amount of time. Stretching and warming up is about 15 minutes of your 1 hour class which helps prevent injuries.
Cons- quite simply, injuries. A misnomer is also that proper form is rarely executed. (which is sometimes false) I will tell you that injuries are apart of it all, with that much stress on your body, they most definitely can occur. Sometimes your nervous system is overloaded and you take on too much. If you have great coaching, the injuries are minimized dramatically.
Another potential con is individualized programming. You will probably have to hire a Crossfit coach to specifically design a program for you to work on what YOU want or need to. Often times, Crossfit classes won't provided that "customized for you" programming. Lastly, if your fundamentals aren't developed (body-weight work, core strength OR you have a serious injury or injury history: this may not be for you.)
All in all, fitness is relative to what you LIKE to do and what you classify as fit. Please, do NOT knock the "bro curling in the squat rack". Or the person who does yoga every day and doesn't touch a weight. Do what's best for YOU, enjoy yourself and what you are doing to improve yourself physically!!
These are mostly facts what I am telling you today and what you should expect from your own favorite fitness activity. Do not knock something unless you have tried it. There is a time and place for any type of physical activity of your choosing, just don't bully someone because they don't like your own personal preference.
If you have something that you want to improve as it pertains to your own figure, read this blog and look to learn about the benefits of targeting your weakness. Again, fitness is half of the battle, nutrition is the second half. THAT is a byproduct of how you look and what lifestyle you lead.
Just do me a favor, ENJOY what type of fitness you choose. PLEASE don't ever criticize someone because it's not your flavor.
Jesse Velasquez is the writer of this article. His views are HIS VIEWS and any of these thoughts that were conveyed to this blog shall not be posted anywhere else without his permission :).