Health

The Lowdown on Intuitive Fitness

Stuck in an exercise slump? It’s time to start listening to your body!
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At the start of a new fitness program, it’s normal to ask a few questions. Am I training enough? Should I be doing more cardio? How much is too much?

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While trainers and other experts can certainly help answer these burning queries, it may also be time to start listening more to our own bodies. It certainly makes sense as the main focus of fitness shifts from weight loss to overall wellbeing.

“Intuitive fitness describes the act of listening to your body’s intuition and tapping into how it’s feeling before, during and after exercising,” explains Adala Bolto, director of ZADI Training.

Chances are you’ve already heard of intuitive eating. An alternative to the gruelling eating plans and kilojoule counts that many of us have become used to, it’s the concept that becoming attuned to your body and hunger patterns is the best way to adopt healthy and sustainable eating practices.

But can the same ideas apply to exercise, and is it the right approach for you? Bolto delivers the lowdown. 

Brittany Hockley
Intuitive fitness essentially helps you avoid overtraining, injury and exhaustion. Pictured: Brittany Hockley, Tash Oakley and Jacqui Kingswell. (Credit: Instagram)

What is intuitive fitness and why is it getting so much attention now?

Intuitive fitness essentially helps you avoid overtraining, injury and exhaustion, but it does require quite a lot of self-motivation.

This intuitive approach to training could help to determine how hard you train, what type of training you do and how long you are planning on training.

Ali Oetjen
Intuitive eating is an alternative to the gruelling eating plans and kilojoule counts that many of us have become used to. Pictured: Ali Oetjen. (Credit: Instagram)

How is it different to structured exercise? 

With intuitive fitness, rather than having a super-structured program, you would go to your workout space or gym and just do the movements and exercises you feel like doing in the order that feels right in the moment.

If you do prefer to exercise in a fitness class that is structured, you could still schedule your classes and go as hard or as easy as you like.

Tiffiny Hall
With intuitive fitness, rather than having a super-structured program, you would go to your workout space or gym and just do the movements and exercises you feel like doing. Pictured: trainer Tiffiny Hall (Credit: Instagram)

What are the pros and cons of doing intuitive fitness?

The pros are that it’s good for your wellbeing, body image, mindset and your body in a physical sense, as you are not putting too much pressure on it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a structured program, this could be a great start to take the pressure off.

The cons are that if you do have a fitness goal in mind, it may not be the best way to train. [Improving] your muscles will feel a little sore, especially when you’re starting out, so if you’re not familiar with what exercise actually feels like, you run the risk of undertraining.

Michelle Bridges
If you do prefer to exercise in a fitness class that is structured, you could still schedule your classes and go as hard or as easy as you like. Pictured: Michelle Bridges. (Credit: Instagram)

How can we become better at listening to our bodies?

Take a minute before you train to be still, do some deep breathing and move your body around softly to see if you have any aches or niggles. Also check in with how much energy you have.

As you start training, pay attention to how the movement is feeling. Can you feel the exercise in the right places? Or are you getting pain or tightness during the exercise? You may even need to stop and do some mobility exercises prior to doing the exercise that you want to do next.

Tiffiny Hall
As you start training, pay attention to how the movement is feeling. Pictured: Tiffiny Hall.

Do you have any tips for getting started?

Have a basic idea of the workouts you plan on doing when starting out, and as you exercise, if you feel the need to do something else, do so. Also, continue to schedule your workouts in.

Remember, it takes around three weeks to build a habit, so make sure exercise is part of your life before taking your foot off the pedal to do it intuitively.

Adala Bolto is the director of ZADI Training in Sydney. Visit zadi.com.au

Brooke Jowett
Remember, it takes around three weeks to build a habit, so make sure exercise is part of your life before taking your foot off the pedal to do it intuitively. Pictured: Brooke Jowett. (Credit: Instagram)

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