Know Your Body: The Importance of Modifications in Fitness

To any of you that know me on any personal level it may seem absolutely crazy that I, of all people, would write a blog post about knowing your body. I thought it was crazy too. Until I started picking up my workouts this past week.  

I come into the gym every day knowing that it’s going to be a mental and physical battle, just like everyone else.  But unlike many gym-goers, I live for that battle.  Most of the time this is a good thing, but sometimes it can get the better of me, when I unknowingly push myself to the point of injury as I did a few months ago.  Once I recovered and came back, I really had to be mindful of how I was moving my body so that I could avoid re-injury.  This not only includes constantly checking my form, but also knowing my body and how to modify for whatever it’s feeling at that moment.

In no way am I suggesting that every person become an Anatomy and Physiology expert. I definitely am not…I’ve just barely learned the basics AFAA is requiring of me! But you don’t have to be a psychic either.  We all know what are bodies feel like when they are functioning at 100%, and we know what they feel like when they’re not. That’s where it all begins.  It took me while to know for myself when a muscle group was screaming at me because it was burning in soreness and when it was in pain, but I’ve definitely gotten better at discerning that–and everyone can in time! 

Another hugely important factor in fitness is knowing modifications for yourself! This is particularly true for me because I usually have to modify about 25-50% of any Group Ex class I take (with the exception of spin). Any good instructor will show their class participants one or two modifications of a movement, but if those are also too advanced, knowing your body comes in vey handy. Having an idea of the muscles you are trying to target will help you to come up with an appropriate modification.  For example: a skater’s lunge (think Apollo Ohno’s speed skating move); this is a movement I cannot yet complete. Instead, I do a side-to-side steps with arm movement.  This is still keeping the exercise in the cardio range, and working my arms and legs just like my fellow classmates.  If all else fails and you can’t think of an appropriate modification, just keep moving in any way, and ask your instructor after class. That’s what they’re there for and love to help people find ways to get the best benefit.

The traditional saying goes: “Know your limitations.” but I’d like to propose it be changed to “Know your modifications.” There are no limits.

Until next time, thanks for reading and keep on living. 🙂  

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