Last week was all about the pursuit of happiness. This week, we'll be diving into balance: your DIY-way to have it all.
It had to have been the videos of handstand presses arched over an inquisitive (and handsy!) baby with two energetic young boys running circles around the mat that caught my eye on Kenzie Morley's Instagram page @yogoskenz. I mean, the amount of control and body awareness to pull this off while balancing raising three kids, running a business, and still making time for herself is no small feat. Did I mention the weight lifting, interval training, running, family time, and community involvement? You get the idea...
So I was pretty excited when Kenzie announced that she was developing The Fit Yogi Trainer which she describes as "Marrying fitness & yoga together as complimentary practices. [It] includes how to start, workouts, poses, drills, & flows."
This really spoke to me: I've been busy developing sport-specific yoga to safely regain flexibility lost in repetitive movement, improve mobile strength, prevent common sports-related injuries by stabilizing joints, and developing functional strength where it's needed most. I was inspired by the tightness I began feeling in my shoulders and hips after boxing, and the way that yoga allowed me to regain and maintain flexibility in those areas.
I'm a huge fan of my local yoga studio Connecticut Power Yoga, vinyasa classes by uber-talented Liz Caires and Michela Swartz at my go-to spot for all things recovery Remedy Bodyworks (featured in a previous blog post here), boxing with my beyond-experienced and talented (and very patient) boyfriend and trainer Raymond Montalvo, running, weight training using Alexia Clark's super-toning program... but oh my word, that was exhausting just to type it out, much less to do it all.
Let's be real: I work a full-time, super high-stress job as an ER doctor, spend half my time in hotels traveling for work, enjoy making sure Ray and I have home-cooked and nutritious meals to fuel our busy lifestyles, manage several health coaching clients, teach private/semi-private and sport-specific yoga (more info and booking here), and am a full-time fur mom to the cutest pup on the planet (slight bias).
So I was pretty stoked to learn that The Fit Yogi Trainer would combine a lot of the existing components of my fitness routine intelligently and fluidly into one hour a day, leaving me more time to lace up my gloves and get in the ring (sadly, boxing is usually the bit I end up having to sacrifice when I'm low on time). Don't get me wrong, I won't stop running to or from my local yoga studios and sweating it out with some of the best humans I've been lucky enough to know or hitting the weights hard, but Kenzie's program has been a game changer. #BONUS: little-to-no equipment is required (there's a recommended list of things that are helpful to have available) so I was able to take this on the road during my most recent holiday to Saint Barthélemy (I did check ahead and brought a resistance band to sub for dumbbells - more on the most useful and travel friendly equipment here).
I caught up with Kenzie to pick her brain about balanced workouts and - more importantly - a balanced life.
JP: Your workouts include yoga, body weight exercises, HIIT, and weights - I love the mix! What drove you to include so many kinds of exercise in The Fit Yogi Trainer program?
KM: I created the workouts based on my personal routine. I love variety, because it continues to challenge me and keeps me interested and well-rounded. I come from a fitness background and only found yoga 3 years ago. Instead of choosing to focus on one over the other, I just added yoga onto my daily fitness routine, which includes a mixture of running, HIIT, bodyweight, plyometrics, free weights, and of course yoga.
I discovered that fitness and yoga are meant for each other, and wanted to share how I correlate the two to complement and strengthen each other. I wouldn't do one without the other now. Fitness and strength training keep you active and your heart healthy. Fitness also offers a solid strength foundation for yoga. Yoga will strengthen your core and body beyond the abilities of "normal" training. Yoga also helps extinguish aches and pains, and further prevents other injuries. Yoga teaches a new sense and awareness of the body and mind, and the flexibility practiced has everything to do with our range of motion.
My fitness background propelled my progress in yoga immensely. Yoga maintains my body and mind's health and stability, and makes me so much stronger, balanced, flexible, and controlled - all characteristics any person practicing fitness should have. I KNOW yoga and fitness have to be done together now. That's the message I'm trying to share through my guide.
JP: I’m a big fan of building strength while maintaining/increasing flexibility. How does TFYT fit it all in in a cohesive way?
KM: For every exercise or workout, there is a corresponding yoga pose or flow that can help you achieve better range of motion and flexibility in the specific move. That is what The Fit Yogi Trainer and my training philosophy tap into. So let's say you do a leg work out full of lunges, squats, running, jumping, and focuses on the hamstrings and glutes. The drill, pose, and yoga flow that immediately follows this work out will specifically correlate with poses and transitions in the drill and flow that target the same muscle groups - taking advantage of the muscles' warmth and activation from the work out - and acting as not only a recovery for the muscle groups worked, but also promoting flexibility and better range of motion through the lengthening and strengthening of the muscles.
JP: I love that your workouts are for everyone: newbies, active people, pregnant, postpartum. Can you speak a little bit to the importance of modifications and staying/becoming active at any phase in life?
KM: Everyone starts somewhere, and most people, especially women, will experience some time in their life when they likely won't have all the same capabilities they once did. For example, pregnancy. I was personally able to stay fit and do almost everything I would normally do while I was pregnant for all three of my children. But there are also obvious and necessary modifications, such as nixing anything where you're laying on your stomach haha!
There is no shame is modifying for any reason though - modifications are for everyone and anyone. If you're pregnant, injured, or simply a beginner, where there's a will, there's a way. If you can maintain some physical activity - safely of course - at all times in your life, your body will thank you for it. Being fit is way more about the health INside your body and mind, than your outward appearance.
JP: I can’t help but compare your do-it-all and balanced approach to fitness with your do-it-all and balanced approach to motherhood. What advice would you give to someone who feels like she or he can’t “have it all” or find a balance?
KM: To not give up, but to not make excuses either. Your health has to be an absolute priority that doesn't get pushed down on our mom lists of things to do. I talk about this a lot in my guide, but you have to decide and commit to how you will balance your fitness with your lifestyle. Find out what works for you. My guide gives workouts and yoga to fit in ONE hour. I am a busy, working mom of 3, so I get it. I do my work out in the mornings. It's do-able, it really is. Sometimes it requires sacrifice - sleep, cleaning time maybe - but it's worth it, because WE ARE worth it. Moms need this time for themselves, perhaps more so than the average person. And this is constructive time focusing on their own physical and mental health.
And that's where all of the balance comes in: using movement (and a good variety of it) to keep your body healthy, your mind clear, and to keep us from forgetting that we truly deserve to live a balanced and healthy life!
Head to my Instagram page to enter the #giveaway for a chance to win your very own copy of The Fit Yogi Trainer. What's in it for you? In Kenzie's (tried and true) words:
The Fit Yogi Trainer focuses on bringing you over 100 videos to help you learn, work out, and begin or continue your fitness and yoga journey. It can be done from home or from the gym. This guide offers loads of content - 4 weeks worth of daily workouts meant to be re-used and mastered so you can compare your progress while staying challenged. In addition to the physical activity, there are also daily nutritional tips, and over 15 chapters of written instruction to ensure you are developing safe and healthy exercise, yoga, and nutritional habits. Not only will you reap the benefits of both fitness and yoga, you will experience how it feels to be part of an encouraging and uplifting community through unique #thefityogitrainer hashtags and engaging content on @yogoskenz and @thefityogitrainer.