If you’re anything like me, the events that have unfolded over the past 72 hours have been at best astonishing and at worst exhausting. Being black in America has always been a particularly tenuous game: Show your well-earned frustration to others and you could be branded as too sensitive. Keep your legitimate anger inside yourself and you risk it coming out in other ways, such as anxiety, high blood pressure, constant headaches or fatigue.
Although this week was fraught with more mourning than any of us should realistically be able to deal with, hopefully you’ve been able to decompress in some way in order to maintain inner balance. If you’re like me, however, and no amount of attempts at attaining inner calm will ever be able to quench the insatiable fire inside you, don’t fear. The answer may be as simple as exercise.
The collective groan that the previous sentence just elicited is understandable.
There truly is no greater pain, barring childbirth or a visit to the dentist, than starting or restarting an exercise regimen. The temptation to listen to your inner voice telling you that you’ll just get back into the swing of working out tomorrow or the gravitational pull that your bed has on your entire body will be strong. Give in and you may kick yourself once you find climbing the stairs to be more difficult or lifting groceries to be more of a chore than it used to be. Try to commit to doing something different that not only will impact your physical well-being but also can benefit your mental health, too.
Before you rush off to join a gym replete with initiation fees and add-ons such as private training packages that you may not even use, just know that these days, exercise truly is a concierge industry. One size definitely does not fit all. Below are some options that allow you to control how you incorporate physical activity into your daily life:
There’s now no need to join a gym simply to find the right trainer for you. For the cost of dinner for two and a movie and even less for a group session (think of getting a workout partner to keep each other accountable), Fitspot and Handstand offer on-demand personal training as well as a variety of activities, including yoga, MMA, Pilates, cycling, boxing and more. A trainer can come to you or you can meet up at a private gym. Personal training is a good option for those just starting an exercise regimen to ensure proper posture and form to eliminate injury.
To eliminate boredom, another option for those who like variety is Classpass. For about the cost of one personal training session, Classpass allows its members to have monthly access to a variety of group exercise classes at participating locations. This also applies if you travel to any participating class studios in 30 cities around the world.
Fancy yourself more of a runner? Don’t forget to incorporate weight training for optimal results, and while you’re at it, why not set a goal for yourself to up the ante? Does the concept of you and a 5K sound like what happens when oil meets water? You’re in luck. C25K, which stands for “couch to 5K,” will literally speak to you through the app and coach you on when to walk and when to run over the course of eight weeks.
Once you’ve mastered that, look into finding some local 5K runs that you can do to be around others who share your commitment to fitness, as well as possibly make some friends along the way. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, start training for a 10K to challenge yourself further.
There are obviously many more ways to incorporate exercise into your daily life. Before initiating any exercise program, make sure you have the approval of your primary care physician, especially if you are taking any prescribed medications. Although more vigorous exercise is listed here, walking, hiking, yoga, tai chi and other lower-impact exercise are just as beneficial for proper maintenance of your body and mind. Taking time out during these stressful times is key. Also make sure that while you’re on your quest to fitness, you drink as much water as you can. You need to stay as hydrated as you are woke.
Dr. Imani J. Walker is a physician trained in general adult and forensic psychiatry. She resides in Los Angeles.