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This Is The Most Important Thing You’ll Read Today

Categories: Fit, Happy | Posted by: Suzy Shulman

I am incredibly lucky. I have the most amazing women and men attend my classes and fill my day with awe and respect. Many show up wanting to move but are trepidatious because of age or injury or combination of both. Every so often, a person comes to class who changes my opinion of what is possible.

 

This month’s post is about a specific woman who through hard work, determination and beautiful spirit overcame what would have set many mere mortals back a lifetime. This amazing woman sent me a testimonial that I felt compelled to share, partly out of shameless self promotion and partly as proof that anyone can do anything they set their mind too.

 

This is her full testimonial:

I’m a 53-year-old woman that is finally able to start enjoying life again.

 

Five years ago I was a gym rat. Monday through Friday, 5:00 AM, I was there. I worked out on the machines religiously. A year in, I began having back problems; turns out I had both a compressed disc and a bulging disc. I put on bed rest for three months, then only allowed light work and some walking. My weight was spiraling out of control from a lack of exercise and menopause. I was working my way back, but due to continued pain, I was significantly limited in what I could do.  

 

My sleep was also significantly impacted as well. The most I was getting was four hours before the pain woke me up. My doctor’s only and very frustrating response was, “It’s going to take time.” Then I broke a toe.  

 

Once again, my movement and ability to workout was seriously altered. By this time, my core strength was gone, my back was worse than ever, and my quality of sleep was abysmal. More weight gain, and less muscle. This was a horrible downward spiral, I was resigned to just live with it.  

 

Through all of this, I lost the ability to do all the things I loved—horseback riding, snowmobiling, fishing (the back twist when casting would put me in spasms), and gardening. I started working out again and re-broke the toe. Back to square one.

 

After an additional four month of healing, I was determined to try again.  A co-worker mentioned Suzy’s class. It’s during lunch, and I felt secure having a buddy to go with. At this point, I was shaped like a weeble and thought “WTF.”

 

The very first class I was impressed. First, Suzy came and welcomed me to the class, and she meant it.  Second, she asked if I had any injuries. When I gave her the short version of what had been going on, she didn’t flinch; she didn’t snicker; she just listened. It felt good to be heard and not dismissed.

 

As class progressed, I discovered that there was no “You must do it this way and this many times.” It was empowering to have alternatives for the moves that weren’t working for me. She would call out, “Lois, do it this way instead.” I may have been pitiful at planks and squats, but with Suzy’s encouragement, it all seemed very doable.

 

I continued to go to the classes, and slowly I found that I was able to do more and my form had dramatically improved. Suzy noticed every improvement, and let me know: a quick thumbs up or a quiet “Nice.” If I am having trouble with one of the moves, she is right there showing me a better way or correcting my position. When she introduces new moves that are hard, she will quickly quip, “Just try it,” and if it doesn’t work or feel right, she is right there with alternatives. And then just like that, I can seemingly do anything.

 

Suzy creates a positive atmosphere without a whiff of competition; do only what you can do. Listen to your body is the mantra. I have found that the goal for Suzy’s classes is not how much weight you have lost but rather what you can achieve at your own pace.

 

Did I mention there’s laughter? Lots of laughter. A fitness class where you laugh? Who knew? We groan at some of the moves, or giggle, or some weird and funny groan/laugh combo, and that is OK. Actually, it’s encouraged. We are there to improve ourselves, and we get to have fun. It’s a win-win.

 

Within the first six months of attending Suzy’s classes bi-weekly, I was able to sleep for six or seven solid hours a night. I’m unable to put into words just how significant this is.

 

I was also able to start helping with chores around the house, stacking wood and gardening. This past winter, after being in the class for eight months, for the first time in years, I was able to go snowmobiling with my husband. It was a four-hour trip on a glorious bluebird sky day. The next day, my husband and I had to clean the snow off the roof with roof rakes. Monday I woke up and was just a little stiff, but no pain. None.

 

Wanna know why I had no pain? Suzy. Her method works.

 

I have regained parts of my life that I thought I were gone forever. I have gotten my life back. What else could you ask for? Going to the gym doesn’t even come close to the full body workout that I get and enjoy with Suzy’s method.

 

And now you know why I had to share. Her words reinforced my belief that my method of exercise really is for EVERY BODY.
She is why I do what I do.

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I don’t want fixes for anything that jiggles

Categories: Fit, Happy, happiness in life, Happy | Posted by: Suzy Shulman

Between teaching classes and seeing private clients, I have plenty of downtime to research the latest and greatest in fitness and what diets are trending and what’s falling out of favor. I spend an inordinate amount of time on social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest (in addition to reading NYT and LAT wellness blog like it’s my job, which I guess it is). These are invaluable sites for me because they give me a greater understanding of what people are looking for in terms of weight loss and fitness.

 

The problem with a lot of the stuff out there, especially on places like the Health and Fitness board on Pinterest, is that many women believe that the images looking back at them are what they themselves are supposed to look like. Even I have fallen victim to this multiple times. These sites remind me very quickly that my body doesn’t measure up. I am clearly too short, too thick, and far too large to possibly represent what a woman in the fitness industry should look like.

I stare at my computer screen and wonder: if I, who LOVES my body and is PROUD of what it can do, can fall victim to such images, how do women who have lower self esteem deal?

 

Reading widely has also shown me that most people want to reap huge rewards from spending as little time moving as possible. Recent headlines include things like “Drop 10 LBS by Friday,” and the post was from Wednesday evening. Other favorites include: “How to have a better butt in 3 min, 6 fixes for anything that jiggles, get killer abs by doing nothing at all!” (This was actual headline from a magazine that I will let remain nameless.) It seems to go on and on and on.

 

I think about my journey into the fitness world, and  why I started to work out. It was  of a pure desire to change the external (only to learn that I needed to change the internal voice before I could possibly enjoy the external image). I actually believed some of things that I read. More important, I believed that the pictures staring back at me were accurate depictions of what truly fit women’s bodies look, and that I, too, would look like that.

 

Here’s the cold hard truth: I will never look like them. I will never have long, lean limbs. My strong, thick thighs will gobble up shorts that get in their way, no matter how many inner thigh exercises I do. I will not weigh 120 lbs.  The more I exercise, the more muscle I gain. I will not get “skinnier” if I run more.

 

I don’t want fixes for anything that jiggles. I want exercise moves that turn me on and makes me feel good. I want the internal and external to both be happy. My body will always have curves.  I will fluctuate in weight and will still love what I see in the mirror. I will do more than 3 minutes of exercise because I love to move and want to do more than that.  I want to think, breathe, and sweat.

What I really want is an accurate depiction of fit women. Long, short, thick, thin, brown, black and white.

What helped me to quiet the voice that is so strongly affected by these images? Im lucky, I have an incredible ego. Seriously, no joke, I have always really liked myself, even when I have been a different size and shape.

My self worth is defined by my inner dialogue. Outward appearance is a by-product of a strong mind and set of deep seeded morals and ideals that I own and make work for me.

If you are having trouble hearing that voice than listen to mine. I will tell you that I love what stands before me. You are a force that takes up space and its awesome.

 

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Get the F*#k Out of the Gym

Categories: Happy | Posted by: Suzy Shulman

Get the F*#k out of the gym!

Yah, you heard me right. Go. Right now. Run. Don’t walk. Seriously – you’re wasting your time.

You hate what you’re doing.

You’re bored beyond belief.

You can’t understand how that guy next to you has been running on the treadmill for 45 minutes (neither can I).

Does this describe most, if not all, of your trips to the gym?

I can sympathize.

For years I believed that I had to hate what I was doing to reap all of the benefits. I genuinely believed that working out was supposed to suck.

I was so wrong.

I became a teacher and personal trainer to show others that they can should love to workout the best thing they can possibly do for their bodies and minds is to find a workout that they enjoy.

You should associate working out with misery.  You shouldn’t cringe when, halfway through your day, you realize you need to go to the gym in a few hours.  In fact, you should never associate the word “need” with the word “workout”.  Instead, you should always focus on the word “want.”

You don’t need to get in shape. You want to get in shape.

You don’t need to lose a few pounds.  You want to lose a few pounds.

You don’t need to become more flexible. You want to become more flexible.

You want to become a happy, healthier, more fit you.

Those who determine which exercises, workouts, and fitness classes they enjoy are 90% more likely to succeed in attaining their health and fitness goals than those who force themselves to engage in forms of exercise they loathe.

If you’re reading this on your way out the door to suffer through another dreaded hour-long session at the local gym, put down your shoes, look in the mirror, and make a promise to yourself that you will find a way to workout that makes you happy – not just fit.  Because, let’s face it – if you don’t, you’re not really helping yourself, are you?

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What Goes Up Must Come Down

Categories: Fit, Healthy | Posted by: Suzy Shulman

I love the “up”.

I live there, teach there, practice there.

“Up” allows me to be here and now and yet not at all.

But here’s the thing…

What goes up, most come down.

A person cannot live in a constant state of “up”.

Embracing “the down”

Before I began practicing and teaching restorative yoga, I was constantly focused on being “up”. In fact, I’m not certain I even considered the possibility of a “down” state existing.

But, I always had this nagging feeling that this constant “up-ness” I lived by was not sustainable.

Through restorative yoga, I have learned the value of being down, coming down, and even…gasp…enjoying “the down”.  It provides a juxtaposition to my typical state of being.  My life is the yin; Restorative yoga, the yang.

Discovering Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga has been an evolving practice for me that has spanned nearly a decade.

I attended my first class because I was “at the end of my rope”.

I was a full-time waitress and my body and mind were spanked, done, finished.

I was tired and irritable.

My patience with myself, and others, was nonexistent.

In the hopes of reversing or counteracting the negativity, I began attending more “power” yoga classes.

Hey, it’s yoga. It calms you. Right?

Wrong.

I was so wrong.

What I came to realize was that my body and mind needed time to just be, to release, to find ways to finish on going conversations in my head.

Through supported poses, I found calm for my overused and sore muscles.

Through breathing practices, I found recovery and an understanding of the need to train smarter, not just harder.

As a result of my practice, I found that I now recover better after intense workouts and weeks.

I found that as long as I find my “down”…every once in a while…I can go up exponentially.

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What Does Inflexible Really Mean?

Categories: Fit | Posted by: Suzy Shulman

Why say it? Do you mean “I just dont want to?”

Because as teacher and personal trainer I would rather hear that than the latter excuse. It drives me crazy when students are so quick to quip, so many already took the biggest step of showing up, why not fully participate? Why not do the best your body can? I as the instructor I have given you the freedom to work at whatever level you want, to push yourself as hard as you want, with no question or push from me. Allowing yourself to believe that your inflexibility is the reason class sucked today is just an excuse you gave yourself to not fully participate, to not fully give all you got. I have plenty of days, nay, weeks when I swear that I’m not gonna make it, workouts seem to last forever and every fucking push up was worse than the other. There are times I go to class and I am the only one who can’t seem to do what the instructor is asking of me. It sucks, I go to the bad place, I tell myself that’s because I’m inflexible, because Im not built for that. Bullshit. My mind is what stops me. I hold myself to what others around me are doing. I search their strong, limber bodies and hate mine. My mind convinces me that I’m just not ment to do this kind of work. Bullshit.

I’m calling you out mind, I’m telling you right now this relationship between what’s really hard and what seems impossible and your ability to convince me stop is over. I’m done believing you, I’m done letting you tell me I’m inflexible. You’re inflexible, my body is cable of anything, basically.

Today I will show up. Today I will go the distance. Today I will do all that my body is capable of. Today I will shut my mind off and go hard.

 

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