Inner strength

Fit-Inner Strength-2

photograph by Mark Petko

by Charman Driver

What a fantastic year of fun and fitness adventures I’ve had with Walter. I’ve run, kicked, jumped, stretched, melted, boxed, danced, climbed – even joined the circus!

People often ask me how I maintain the discipline and motivation to work out and eat super-healthy every day – year after year. I tell them I am motivated by the awesome feelings of well-being I experience when I’m physical and eat well – and by the way I look, of course.

I will admit, though, there are many days when I’m less than enthusiastic about getting up at 5:30 a.m. to run five miles – in December! And I’ll confess that I hunger after dark chocolate every night, which would be OK, except that I want it melted over vanilla ice cream!

At times like these, I call on my inner strength to push me to do the things I think I can’t do – or to keep me from doing the things I know I shouldn’t (like eating chocolate and ice cream every night).

This being my last Fit column for Walter, I felt it appropriate to emphasize the building of one’s inner strength. We all have that internal force, or willpower, and I believe you can build it, over time, like a muscle. Then, when difficult situations occur, you are equipped to get through them.

It’s all psychology, right? Not entirely. Some actually think you may actually be able to physically build your inner strength through exercise, and that mental and physical strength cannot be separated.

It makes sense to me.

One’s inner strength comes from confidence – power from the inside. The inside that I associate with strength is the core.  When your core is strong through physical activity, your mental aptitude gets strong, too – and then you can will yourself to do almost anything!

There’s even a class at a gym here in Raleigh that touts this philosophy. O2 Fitness’s “Inner Strength” class, designed by Sweden native Maria Olofsson, is meant to stimulate balance, core stability, and flexibility. “The focus is also to get centered and be there in the moment of the class,” she says.

I drop in at O2’s Seaboard location one afternoon to take a crack at it with instructor Jaime King. Men and women, from 25 to 65, are standing (some shoeless) on yoga mats, and holding long metal poles overhead. The class is essentially 45 minutes of core work, flexibility, and resistance training – with a little cardio thrown in via plyometric exercises like burpies and mountain climbers.

There’s nothing all that new about the specific exercises – you’ve seen them before – but together, with the lightly weighted poles and the unusual music of African drumbeats, it’s quite innovative. It is a total body workout whose distinctive elements also help to focus your attention on the movements and keep the workout fun, interesting, and motivating.

So go on.  Find your inner strength – even at your local gym.

Like any muscle, building inner strength takes time, but it’s worth it – so when difficulty arises, you can get through it.  Chocolate and ice cream notwithstanding!  

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