Self-Care Experiment Week 2: Let’s Get Physical

At Handled, we run around a lot during an average day. Probably more than most people – that’s just part of the job! Easily clocking an average of 10,000 steps a day sounds pretty impressive and while walking is great exercise, it doesn’t do a whole lot to take care of excess stress. Plus, since it’s the only kind of exercise we’ve been doing for the past few months, we’ve been feeling less tight and toned than we’re comfortable with – especially as Spring comes around.

Most sources suggest that about three hours of vigorous activity is sufficient on a weekly basis, and honestly that seems just about the maximum any busy person could fit into their schedule. But we’re all about getting the most out of this Self-Care Experiment so we thought: what would happen if we did an hour a day – every day – instead? That way we could try seven different types of workouts and see how well each of them served our Self-Care purposes. Sound crazy? Crazy like a fox! So that’s what we did.

A normal week when we’re at our most consistent has been a schedule of sweaty strength training, yoga, and as little cardio as possible. With all the walking we do, extra cardio is well, extraneous. And, we really hate it so we just don’t do it if we don’t have to.  

So this time around, considering that we’ve been off our game and need a Spring reset, we decided to raise the stakes just a little more. Instead of going back to our old routines – the ones we haven’t been doing – we would do a different class or activity every day. Ones that we would never ordinarily do.   

How’d we do?

Day One – We were all set to go and thinking about the exciting activities we were going to try this week when all of a sudden – ICE STORM.

Mother Nature’s first name must be Cher, because she really turned back time this April. We had already had more than enough of the winter hibernation and there we were, face to face with another bout of January blues – in April. Suffice it to say, we didn’t do anything on Day One but stay inside and order in Chinese. Things were not looking good.

Day Two – Pilates Mat Class

To combat any possible “I don’t think so” moments, we took our own advice and booked an appointment with ourselves by signing up for a pilates mat class the night before. Having taken one Pilates class many moons ago, the only memory we had was of the endless pulsing sit-ups known as the “Hundreds.” Instead, we were surprised by seemingly endless variations of exercises that could be done with two little weighted balls and a foam roller, led by a softly attentive teacher. We left feeling uplifted and confident, without having broken much of a sweat. Maybe it was a good reintroduction, we could have stayed on for an extra hour!

Day Three – Spinning

Again, we booked our spot the night before and read the recommended ‘things to bring’ to class: no shoes needed, they’re included in the class fee, but definitely bring a water bottle because you will get thirsty in class. Perfect. ‘Big Red’ (a trusty 1.5 litre water bottle) was carefully filled with water and sliced lemon for class and was exactly where we left it when we got to the studio – at home. *wah wah wah.* Spinning has always been intimidating. Besides not being the cardio-adrenalyn type, there’s a lot to learn. Between the special shoes (we love fancy gear but this is a different level), all the different adjusty-things on the bike, and the twist knob resistance setter, we seriously wondered if we’d be able to keep up.

Running into a friend unexpectedly was exactly what we needed to calm our nerves. Three different people helped us out, hooking us up with hair elastics (the studio has them on hand), helping us navigate the specialty shoes, even setting up the bike and getting us locked into it. Oh my gawd – we were locked onto an actual bike. The instructor arrived, the lights went down, and the music went up.

We survived! An hour later we were proud that we were able to ride through the entire class, even if we weren’t totally coordinated with the moves and really regretted not having Big Red with us. Later in the day our quads were already starting to burn but our energy remained higher than it has been….

Want to try a class? For a limited time you can try out SPINCO via Class Pass, gratis!

Day Three – Intensive Reformer

We woke up with a familiar, happy sensation. Could we really be feeling the benefits only two workouts in?

We’ve always wanted to try out the mysterious Pilates Reformer. All the pulleys and springs and lithe, long, aligned bodies that result from them. Sounds good. Of course there’s the accompanying visions of getting tangled up and snapping all the pulleys….

Planning didn’t go well the night before, so we just showed up for the 8:30am session. In spite of it being intermediate level and we’d never used a Reformer before, the studio receptionist insisted that this was the class to try. With only two other people in the class we basically had a semi-private session!

It was as much fun as we always thought it would be and we felt like a ballet dancer in training! We started feeling little muscles we didn’t know we had and by the end of the hour we left standing taller and with our core pulled in. Now we’re talking.

Day Four – Beginner Beyoncé Dance Class

On day four we thought we’d change things up again – this time with a dance class. Even through our 20s and 30s we were dance hall and salsa queens, so why not, right? So, after post-work smoothies with friends, we trekked over to an underground dance studio downtown. The barest bones of all of our fitness classes this week, the studio was actually underground. Pushing away the internal “I don’t think so” when faced with a common change room and ill-kept washrooms, we donned our bra tops, baggy pants, and kicks and got ready to get down with Bey.

Nine at night and the class was packed. The instructor, a very young, very slight man came in clapping and asking us if we were ready to get down. For sure! We were doing great, picking up the moves, and feeling fiiiiiiine – that is – until the music came on.

Suffice it to say: there is no “beginner” in Beyoncé. We did the class, but can safely say, this is one part of the experiment we might not repeat.

Day Five – Long Walks on the Beach

OK not so much on the beach, but we finally had a morning to laze around and just didn’t want to haul butt to a class. Extra bonus? The weather finally felt Springlike! So, we relied on an old faithful: walking. We took ourselves all across the city, latte in hand, enjoying the day and catching up with friends. It might not have been the most vigorous day of the week, but over 15,000 steps later (that’s 10 km, thank you very much) and a good dose of vitamin D, and we’d call this old faithful a reliable feel good activity.  

Day Six – Spas Are Exercise Too…?

We really wanted to come out on top in this experiment and say we worked out every single day without fail but the truth is that 3-4 intense workouts per week is actually all that’s needed to maintain your physical and emotional health. More than that and the body doesn’t actually have time to recover enough to perform at it’s best. So we didn’t feel too guilty deciding to take the last day to cash in the reward we’d promised ourselves if we journaled for seven days straight.  

We headed to the spa with our bestie and luxuriated for the afternoon! A glorious massage and then out for a healthy lunch and we felt soothed and pampered. Just as important to the body as a vigorous sweat sesh, in our books!

The result?

We didn’t quite make it to the full seven workouts, but we did give it our best effort. What was most important was that we switched up our routine by tried a bunch of new activities we’d always wanted to, and found some new ones that we would definitely do regularly going forward. Perhaps even more importantly: we listened to our bodies and paid attention to how we were feeling, finding activities to match our energy levels without making excuses and giving up. That in itself was a major change in the right direction.

Will we stick to it after this week?

Yes – and no. We won’t be committing ourselves to daily fitness classes or to running around the city to find them. Finding ways to put fitness on our daily ‘flight path’ is key to making sure that we actually do them. But, we’ll definitely be adding in new activities to the mix on a regular basis. Even after only a few days of consistent fitness, our mood brightened, and we felt taller, tighter, and more powerful in our skin – and more relaxed over all. Definitely all the good reasons to keep it up!


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