I’m writing this article out of personal experience; I’ve been presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity that requires me to drop a few pounds and tighten up. Only problem is: I haven’t seriously worked out since 2018… jaw dropping, I know. Well, I’ve spent the last two weeks finding ways to ease myself back into exercising without my body going through anaphylaxis. 

Step One

Download the Calm app and practice deep breathing exercises,; this has been the most beneficial thing with me jumping back into working out. Mindful breathing allows you to tune out the discomfort of the burn. I feel as though it allows me to get through the workout because that’s my center focus. Your mentality dictates how the workout is going to go, literally turning the focus from the act of working out to just breathing helps you more than you will ever know.  

Step Two

Find two forms of exercise you love that don’t exactly feel like working out. For me that’s swimming in my neighbors amazing pool and any form of dancing. I typically engage in these activities and wake up the next morning extremely sore, but because I enjoy it I don’t feel so bad. Think back to when you were a kid; what were some outdoor activities you enjoyed? Things like nature walks, jogs, rock climbing, bicycling, jumping on a trampoline, playing on your grandma’s elliptical machine you had no business on or dancing at your local dance studio; find those previous loves and be sure to add to your repertoire of exercise. There are so many wonderful parks like Carrier Park located in the West Asheville area; what’s so cool is that they have areas where you can roller skate and bike for your afternoon pleasure.

Step Three 

Working out with a group helps you push through and creates a sense of community. The best thing is they all started where you once were. I was extremely embarrassed because my body and health had declined drastically since pageantry. I’d put on an additional 40lbs and I knew my weight would continue to accumulate if I didn’t start somewhere. Day one I was deep breathing and on the verge of quitting multiple times; what helped me the most was others in the group cheering each other on. My two trainers Devonte Penland and Larry Grant have also created an amazing safe space that allows us to feel comfortable in the grueling uncomfortableness of working out. It’s awesome because my trainers encourage you to take it day by day. If you are looking for a workout community I recommend going to any Asheville Parks and recreation community centers and picking up a seasonal brochure calendar. It will outline every citywide event and class taking place within the city parks and recreation division. They have pickleball, line dancing, rock wall climbing, etc. This is a perfect tool to see what piques your interest and find community.  

Step Four 

Know your body and its limits. If you have bad joints, swim due to the low impact on your body. Find a trainer who is reputable and let them know your body’s previous health record so they can modify exercises for you. I recommend you hire a personal trainer to get you started and show you easy things you can do at home. Some of the individuals in my group are preparing for their upcoming sports seasons. I know that I can’t physically keep up because I will be coughing up a lung; with that being said, know your limits. This step requires you to be honest with yourself.

Step Five 

Change your attitude and embrace exercise, because it truly is a beautiful journey for your mind, body and soul. I go into every workout with a little hesitation, questioning if I can even complete the workout and I leave feeling empowered like a superhero! I’ve enjoyed this journey so far because I feel the small gains, even if it’s just running one more extra lap. You have to celebrate and feel your body throughout the journey. Everyday I feel happier seeing where my body is changing; as rapper Drake says in his song “Fancy”: 

Hit the gym, step on the scales, stare at the number,

You say you dropping’ 10 pounds preparin’ for summer, 

And you don’t do it for the man, men never notice, 

You just do it for yourself, you’re the f**king coldest”. 

Your fitness journey is about feeling your best and maximizing your full potential. 

Hopefully these tips will help you ease back into working out or finding fulfilling movement. It takes time, dedication and patience, so be gentle with yourself. If you want more content, be sure to watch The Asheville View where I will be interviewing different people throughout Western North Carolina who are tied into health and wellness.