Updated: May 6
There is no shortage of outdoor recreation in our stunning state. From hikes and bike rides to paddling and rock climbing, the month of August brings countless opportunities for Montana women to move their bodies in our beautiful outdoors. However, if you have lived here any length of time, you know this is also the time of year when smoke from forest fires often pollutes the air.
You probably also know the best thing you can do when air quality drops is to skip the afternoon hike and exercise indoors instead. So you know what to do. You set your alarm an hour early with the intent to get up and bust out a home DVD. And when the alarm goes off, you hit snooze. And then you hit snooze again. And before you know it, you have slept through the entire time you designated for your indoor workout.
When that happens to me, my “kill-two-birds-with-one-stone” workout plan is a solo dance party in my kitchen while doing my food prep. But this only works if you are a dancer at heart, right? So what is the rest of the world to do?
One option is to head to the local gym and attend an exercise class or try out a new machine, though one word of advice: watch out for the treadmills. I have been utterly traumatized from the time I stepped onto one that I didn’t realize was already running. Needless to say, a subsequent face plant ensued followed by some quick glances around the gym to see who had witnessed the hilarious sight. Still, because fitness is important to me, I don’t let my PTSD over the incident stop me from using the machines if I can’t make it to an exercise class.
But if time allows for an exercise class, I am there in a heartbeat. Group fitness will always be my favorite indoor workout because of the camaraderie that happens inside the classroom. Classes like yoga, barre, dance, spinning, CrossFit and acrobatics always have a tribe waiting to welcome you in when you are ready for it. That tribe (once you get to know them) will help you stay committed to and accountable for your workouts.
And there are other benefits of group fitness classes, too. For one thing, the workouts are designed by instructors experienced in getting results. As instructors, the forethought that we put into each class goes beyond just picking exercises. For example, we pick music to drive intensity and/or leverage a little “all-in-good-fun” competition inside the classroom to get participants to increase speed, weights, or reps beyond what they might feel motivated to do working out alone.
So, you might be thinking at this point: “I am ready to try group fitness. How do I find MY tribe?” Honestly, I am a believer in the concept that the universe aligns us with people who have similar energy. So, all you have to do is pick a class that is of interest to you and find a way to interact with the class participants and the universe will take care of the rest. A line that works wonders for sparking interaction is “I love your gym <insert: bag, shoes, shirt, etc>.”
On the other hand, you may be thinking: “I am too much of an introvert to workout at a gym.” Or maybe my treadmill story scared you off. Or maybe all of your cute workout clothes are dirty. Never fear! Even if dancing in your kitchen isn’t your thing, you can still do at-home workouts even if you have absolutely no equipment. I am including a sample body weight workout below for you.
So, in all seriousness, before you tie on the sneakers for that trail run or load up the mountain bikes, please carefully consider if the air quality is suitable for an outdoor workout. Smokey air makes for spectacular sunsets but inhale too much and you can end up with health problems ranging from headaches and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat to increased risk of asthma, heart attacks, strokes and even death from cardiovascular disease. An extra word of precaution goes out to those with existing conditions like asthma and diabetes: check with your doctor to determine when it is safe for you to exercise. If you decide there are more cons than pros to heading out, rest assured, there will be many opportunities in the future to enjoy our beautiful state. We are Montana women, after all. ~Mindy
Mindy is a columnist for "Montana Woman Magazine." Her column "The Real Levitation Experience" shares expertise for elevating health & wellness that she has acquired through her certifications as a personal trainer and life coach. Mindy is also founder of Kalispell’s Levitation Nation Aerial Studio, where the catch phrase “fitness is fun” is embodied alongside a culture of movement & women empowerment. For more about Mindy, please visit: https://www.levitationnation.org/mindy.