Fitness · Health

The Benefits of an Exercise Practice Steeped in Routine and Focus

Jonathan for web

This post is part of our series of Fitness Saturday exercises, workouts, and expert tips appropriate to women in the second half of life. Jonathan Urla, a certified advanced health and fitness specialist, shares the benefits of an exercise practice that is steeped in routine and focus.



1578514678_b67d54e8ae_zImage by Glen Scott via Flickr. (CC

Recently, a student of mine shared that she heard it was best to change up your exercise routine every ten days. Athletes often change up their training every three months or so via an approach called “periodization.” However, the long term benefits of shifting your routine in such a short period of time are yet to be determined. Instead, I emphasize to my students that the exercises we do are more than just a fancy way to burn calories. Rather, the purpose and flow of the movements, repeated over time, are an avenue to becoming a more skilled mover.

In her review of the Tony award-winning choreographer Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit, Erika Kinetz writes, “Training the body – whether to perform surgery, play baseball or do ballet – requires repetition. You can’t just think about it, you have to do it. Over and over.” Kinetz explains how, for Tharp, the repetition of a “ritualized set of physical exercises” provides a time for reflective consciousness, which is to say a time to get in touch with the present (for example, how does your body feel today as opposed to previous days?) and to re-investigate the movements anew. Hence, through repetition, we are not just training the body, but the mind as well. This is the definition of discipline – regular practice with attention. Many people ask me how I continue to teach the same basic Pilates exercises every day for so many years without getting bored. My answer is that they always feel new to me!

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