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Life can sometimes feel wonky…

What we’re looking for is balance – a state in which opposing forces reach equilibrium, so that an object is stable and does not fall over. We seek balance in our lives (work/life balance), balance in our relationships with giving and taking, and balance in our external environment, in that we can live comfortably without turning our planet into an uninhabitable hell.

On an internal level, balance is important for keeping us upright and not falling on the floor. It’s something I work increasingly with in my fitness studio, not just with senior clients, but young ‘uns as well.

Have you ever thought about all the muscles that work to keep you balanced? If you don’t use it, you lose it, as they say, and as many of us are sitting more, we’re using our balancing muscles less. Our superficial muscles, that is, muscles on the outside (like biceps in your arms), are movement muscles.

However, it’s deep muscles that help your posture and keep you upright. They’re the muscles that you do not see, they work by holding the body in place. You engage superficial muscles with moving, and you work deep postural muscles by holding still.

Think weight training vs yoga. Yoga is actually a series of poses (including plank-type exercises) that focus your mind and your body. Pilates is a combination of yoga (holding poses) and ‘western’ strength (movement type exercises) to work both superficial and deep muscles in your torso/abdominals.

An easy way to work your deep muscles, and therefore your balance, is by standing on an inherently unstable surface – a balance board, Bosu ball or stability disc. If you’re walking, walk off-road for extra core engagement.

Think about how young children naturally scamper along walls, logs and play equipment. They haven’t learned to fear falling - that’s something that comes with age and experience. The more you fear falling over, the more likely it is to happen. We freeze and forget all the intuitive knowledge we keep inside us. Yes, we all have the ability to balance.

Humans are smart, we like to do what we’re good at. If you’re bendy, you’ll probably love stretching and do it regularly. Self-confessed runners run. But the body needs a combination of different types of exertion to be fit and healthy, including the stuff that might not come naturally to you.

The three components of fitness are: aerobic pulse-raising exercise, strength and flexibility. We all need to do these things regularly to train our muscles, heart (cardiac muscle) and grey matter.

It’s why 19 years into running a fitness business no day is ever the same. That’s because everybody is different. According to Albert Einstein ‘life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving’. And, I would add, avoid potholes.

Being a smart species means that humans sit down whenever we can. We like to conserve energy, in the old days it was so we had fresh legs for running away from lions. Not so much of an issue nowadays!

In addition, we love to eat, so sitting and eating (sometimes even having food delivered to us, so we don’t need to forage for it) means we develop a calorific imbalance. That is, we eat too many calories and become sedentary. We get sore knees and joints because we’re carrying more heft. And the more difficult it becomes to move, the less we move.

So, finding a balance between indulging and exerting oneself is important for overall health and happiness. We might think scoffing a pack of chocolate digestive biscuits will make us happy, but in the end we’re sad, because the biscuits are all gone and we want more. So how to find a balance?

The trick is not just to eat less and move more (although that generally helps), but to be canny with knowing your weaknesses and shortcuts. Knowing that your brain is trying to save energy and store calories (again, for running away from a lion) is an insightful start to shedding hibernatory winter layers and get ready for spring.

Cheap attractively packaged convenience food can also undermine good intentions – it is designed and engineered to be irresistible so you eat, and buy, more.

Running a business on Leith Walk is also a good exercise in balance. Instead of focusing on what’s going on in the outside world, one needs to focus on what’s going on in the studio to keep everything thriving. But staying stable whilst the world outside is chaos is another story, for another day.

I remain your writer without portfolio, but also a personal trainer with a mission. ■

X: @tracygriffen


According to Albert Einstein ‘life is like riding a bicycle.
To keep your balance, you must keep moving’



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