Options abound for those exercising their independence as well as their bodies

excerpt The Seattle Times, Northwest Source- Molly Martin

Mary Hunter, Farah Nousheen and Marti Morrison were bored with aerobics. Duane Best wanted to gain strength but kept getting injured lifting weights. Gregg Rogers felt chronic pain in both shoulders. Reynaldo Burmudez was expanding a lifelong passion. Rose Burns was looking for energy. Syed Taqi just wanted to get into shape.The fastest-growing segment of the fitness world – not counting the dropouts – just might be those people exploring alternatives to conventional weights-and-cardio workouts. Yoga studios have stretched into neighborhood shopping areas and suburban strip malls. Pilates is common enough that people are more likely to correctly pronounce it “puh-LAH-teez” instead of “PIE-lats.” Among the 146 listings under martial-arts instruction in the local yellow pages are judo, karate, kung-fu, kickboxing, tai chi, taekwondo, aikido, hapkido and chung moo doe. There are dance clubs, swimming clubs, bicycle clubs, golf clubs, tennis clubs and rock-climbing clubs.

Fitness isn’t like a pair of tube socks – one size does not fit all. Fortunately, the more researchers learn about the benefits of movement, the broader exercise recommendations become. In 1973 the American College of Sports Medicine told us that for cardiorespiratory fitness, we should exercise three times a week, 20 to 30 minutes at a time, at 60 to 90 percent of our “heart rate reserve,” whatever that is. Its 1995 guidelines, for general health promotion, advised moderate to hard intensity all or most days of the week, 30 minutes or more each time, which could be broken into bouts of eight to 10 minutes. Recommendations tailor-made for fitness alternatives.

In one sense of the word, “alternative” isn’t a fair description of some of these approaches; after all, yoga is 2,500 years older than, say, step aerobics. “Exercise” doesn’t adequately describe many of them, either, since mind as well as body often are emphasized (as if they ever were really separated) and some interweave spiritual and cultural components.

They attract people of all ages, from all communities, from nonexercisers to elite competitors. Different approaches suit different bodies, temperaments, inclinations. They offer variety for the mind and cross-training for the body. Some systems take no special equipment or classes, others have custom-made machines, private trainers and infomercials for home equipment. Many involve slowing down, identifying and remedying weaknesses, paying attention to breath, altering the way we think about exercise.

Perhaps this kind of “alternative,” then, is simply a fitness choice that suits the individual. On the following pages are just a few local people who have found something that works for them…read the complete article

Posted on: 11/07/2007, by : Jacqui

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