Workout of the Week: Body in Balance

Life truly is one big balancing act, and if we really want something, we have to make it a priority. We are very capable of finding the way to make our wishes come true through hard work, determination, and commitment—not waving a magic wand. 

If we want to be healthy, fit, and vital, we need to go after these things with enthusiasm, passion, and the reality check that along the way there will be setbacks and tribulations to pass through. 

Fitting in regular exercise is a challenge for most people, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy. I’m not saying your sessions have to be grueling or spirit-breaking, but there will be tough times, and you will have to put in effort in order to progress. 

When I am experiencing the tough times, I remind myself of the simple but profound principle “no loss, no gain” to help me endure. So next time you don’t feel like exercising, remind yourself that painstaking effort and adversity mean reward and progress are around the corner. 

Seeking Professional Advice 

If you want to take the website for your business to the next level, but have absolutely no experience in web design, you will inevitably outsource to someone who does. Hopefully a great designer who will make you a great website.

By the same token, if you want to take your fitness to the next level, you need to invest in the professionals who can help you make this happen. Physical health includes both nutrition and exercise, so you should consult a licensed nutritionist or dietician, as well as a personal trainer or a supportive health club or gym.

Of course maintaining or improving all comes down to you and your own priorities, commitment, and determination, but having the right people at your side will make your journey a lot easier and more effective.

Do this week’s workout to improve your balance. It’s surprising how many really strong and fit people struggle with basic balance. By incorporating balance-specific movements into your weekly routine, you will reduce your risk of falling and tripping and be better able to maintain control when you do movements that take you off your normal center of gravity. 

There are many balance exercises to choose from. These three will get you started. Do them at least once a week for six to eight weeks. Once you have mastered these, you will be ready to move on to more challenging ones.

Star Pose 

This will strengthen your stomach, hips, buttocks, and thighs as well as improve your balance.

1. Start in a wide squat position with wrists crossed in front of your lower abdomen.

2. As you press out of a deep squat, reach your arms above your head and extend your left leg out behind you. This will leave you balancing on your right leg only. Reach your arms out to stretch your upper body and help with your balance. 

3. Hold for three to five seconds. 

4. As you place your foot back to the floor, lower into the wide squat position. Then press up and over to repeat the star position on the left leg. 

Repeat six times in total (three holds per leg).

Challenge yourself by doing an extra hold on each side and lowering and lifting your extend leg six times. You can let your foot gently touch the floor as you lower, or keep it just above the floor. Not touching your foot down will be more challenging. 

Tree Pose 

This pose is good for strengthening your legs, as well as balance. 

1. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart, palms pressed together so your forearms are parallel to the floor.

2. Lift one leg and place the bottom of your foot on the side of your calf. You can also rest your foot on your inner thigh to make the pose more difficult. 

3. Hold the position for 15 seconds. Lower your foot and change to the other leg. Repeat twice on each leg.

Once you have mastered this position, close your eyes. Standing on one leg with your eyes closed is a true test of solid balance.

Toe Squat 

Along with improving your balance, toe squats give your quads (front of the thighs) a great workout.

1. Warm up before this exercise by doing 10 basic squats with your thighs parallel and your palms pressed together as in the tree pose.

2. On the tenth squat, hold the squat as low as possible. 

3. Lift both heels away from the floor so you are balanced on the balls of your feet.

4. Hold the pose between 10–30 seconds. Then lower your heels and press back to a standing position. 

Repeat the toe squat two more times. 

Emma-Kate Stampton certifies Pilates instructors and is a certified personal trainer. With 10 years of industry experience, she is passionate about sharing the gift of health and well-being. Emma-Kate is based in Brisbane, Australia.