By Kira Stokes
Ironically, the majority of my thoughts for this piece were constructed while on a run — alone with my breath, the sound of my feet, nature, and my thoughts. As with many fit-pros and fitness lovers, I think and create best when on the move. Movement is my meditation.
My personal story is evidence to back up the fact that we are all "made to move." Without going into too much detail, I was born with a partially formed hip socket. Not uncommon, but mine was not diagnosed as it usually is immediately after birth, but at two months old. I was also "pigeon toed." Long and short, I was a hot mess. These issues caused me to have casts on both my legs for 9 months (new ones put on every 4 weeks), along with wearing a pillow device (like a brace to keep my legs in the proper position) to help the hip socket form completely.
"As with many fit-pros and fitness lovers, I think and create best when on the move. Movement is my meditation."
Fast forward to the first night my mother laid me down to sleep after being "freed" from my casts. Apparently, she left my room and heard a loud, rhythmic banging sound. She ran back into my room to find me flailing my arms and legs. Despite her many attempts to calm me down by rubbing my back, my movement continued. Concerned, my mother called the doctor and explained the situation. His response, "Your little girl has been trussed-up like a turkey for 12 months... she's finally free to MOVE, this is the most normal reaction one could hope for.” My mother and father will tell you that I simply haven't stopped since... which I'm incredibly thankful for. The takeaway: Movement is in our DNA.
Our bodies evolved over millions of years to enable us to stand upright, and to move more efficiently. For generations, our environments demanded physical activity in order for us to prosper. Human movement was a necessity in everyday life. While the majority of the inventions over the last 50+ years have made our lives easier and seemingly more productive, they have also caused us to lead more sedentary lives. We are becoming products of technology. Instead of movement happening without us having to think about it, we now have to plan times to simply get up and move. I'm not just referring to scheduling workouts, but planning moments to step away from your desk, computer, mobile device, car etc. to shake off the stillness.
"Instead of movement happening without us having to think about it, we now have to plan times to simply get up and move."
There are many obvious side effects of lack of movement — obesity, heart disease, diabetes, slow metabolic rate, reduced circulation, and depression (less blood flow means fewer "feel good" hormones reaching your brain). A few are perhaps less obvious — poor posture and spine health. When you spend extended periods of time sitting, your hamstrings shorten and tighten and the muscles supporting your spine become weak and stuff.
(Anyone want to get up and walk around while reading this yet? Just do it.)
The benefits to moving are countless and can reverse the majority of the side effects listed above. Like magic, moving turns your fat burners on, lubricates your joints and muscles, improves your mood, awakens your senses, and in grander terms, improves the quality of your life.
Here are a couple tips to make a move during your work day:
1. Make a commitment to stand up and energize every half hour
Your body will tell you the second you get up, that it needed to move. A few steps into your designated "movement moment," the stiffness your body was feeling will dissipate.
2. Take phone calls and whenever possible read emails while practicing some form of movement
I'm not suggesting walking and reading emails, however, truth-be-told, I bought an Arc Trainer elliptical for our home so I would have the option of talking or reading while moving. I have no shame in telling the person on the other end of my call, "If you hear me breathing heavy it's not something you said, I'm on my elliptical." And 99% of the time their response is, "Love it, talk and do... you've inspired me to get up."
3. Take the long road
Take the stairs, park further away from the office, go out and get your own lunch, coffee, smoothie etc. Take advantage of every opportunity that may arise during your day to move.
Now, let's take it a step further and talk in terms of exercise — being made to move and be challenged. The fitness industry is a five billion dollar industry that has grown to offer an abundance of movement options. But sometimes the more options you have, the harder it is to make a decision about what type of exercise is right for you.
Here are a few things to consider when trying to sift through the overwhelming number of modalities:
1. Find a fitness program that resonates with you
This would be your go-to workout, one that feels more like play than a workout, or something you may dub as your "moving meditation." You are most likely to commit to a workout that you enjoy, so always have this choice in your back pocket. I often use the analogy that this would be like your best friend — they will always be there for you no matter what, to pull you out of a bad mood, to keep you honest, and tell you like it is.
2. Step outside of your comfort zone
It may sound odd, but give the opposite extreme, a workout you never imagined you would attempt, a chance. Commit to stepping into an uncomfortable, unknown space for a specific length of time — whether it be a month, eight classes, 8 hours — enough time to see how your body and mind respond to this new movement challenge. You may be surprised that you've found a new "friend."
If this new program proves to be too much to handle, look for something a bit more middle of the road, still a challenge but slightly more comfortable. Never forget that the body (and mind) responds to change. Become comfortable with the uncomfortable — shock it to rock it.
3. Pay attention, move well
Once you've found a balance between what you love, and what challenges you most, take notice of how you feel both mentally and physically. The program you commit to should ultimately make you MOVE BETTER in a pain-free, balanced, highly endorphinated, fully STOKED state. Make sure you are constantly learning while moving, that you aren't just being told what to do, but taught. There should always be a "why" to accompany the way you are moving.
Check out my #SMOTD, "Stoked Move Of The Day" hashtag I created for Instagram, where I offer Stoked Athletes and fitness enthusiasts ideas for movements and exercises to add to their regime in a form-focused, thoughtful manner.
4. Community is key
Move with people who make you want to move more. Being around like-minded, supportive fitness friends and coaches will help you stay on point and inspire you to give 100% to each and every sweat session.
I am incredibly fortunate to have found that my passion and work could be one-and-the-same 20 years ago. Being a trainer and group fitness coach has enabled me to live in motion and create solid science-backed programming— The Stoked Method and Stoked Series classes (as well as my streaming workouts) continue to evolve and challenge athletes to move and MOVE WELL. I end every single workout with my Stoked Athletes with a sentiment of appreciation, "Take a moment to be grateful and thankful for the ability to move your body as you did today, as it is truly a gift."
Put simply, "A body at rest stays at rest" (and never grows)... "A body in motion, stays in motion" (and flourishes... gets stronger, better and ACHIEVES GREATNESS).
Kira Stokes, a graduate of Boston College with a BS in psychology and a minor in health science, has excelled in the personal training and fitness industry for over 18 years.
Kira's personal training clients include professional athletes, celebrities, television journalists and dignitaries. She has trained co-hosts of the television show “The View,” including Sherri Shepherd. She currently works with former "The View" co-host and TV personality Jenny McCarthy, and star of "Fuller House" and co-host of "The View" Candace Cameron Bure. She also trains co-anchors of “CBS This Morning” and the “Today Show.”
Kira's focus is on innovative training, concentrating on transforming the body and mind. She has developed a signature training technique, The Stoked Method, which combines functional and traditional methods of working the body. Her personal training methods have evolved to include a unique combination of strength training, cardiovascular conditioning, sports specific drills, yoga, and Pilates.
In November 2014 Kira was chosen as the celebrity brand partner for BFX Studio. Her signature "Stoked Series" classes are exclusively offered at the Chelsea location.