Is exercise for everyone?
Absolutely. No matter one's age, level of conditioning, or degree of health, exercise has been consistently proven to improve the quality of life physically, mentally and spiritually. With the wide array of exercise options now available including Yoga, dance, aqua aerobics, Pilates, walking, and strength training just to name a few, there's something out there for everyone.
What should one keep in mind when starting an exercise regime?
Start conservatively. Studies have shown that as many as 25% of those who begin an exercise program stop within 6 weeks as the result of injury. Especially if you're new to exercise, it's critically important to start slowly and gradually increase your intensity and or duration. It's also very helpful to seek out the help of a qualified professional to ensure that your experience is safe and effective. Whether it's a personal trainer, a Yoga teacher, a group fitness instructor or a dance teacher, ask for credentials to ensure their level of expertise.
What basic exercises benefit all types of bodies/levels of fitness?
Any complete exercise program will always have three main components: aerobic/cardiovascular conditioning, flexibility training/stretching, and strength training. Aerobic conditioning is important for strengthening the muscles of the heart and lungs to burn fat and decrease the risks for chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Flexibility training is important for improving posture, minimizing chronic pain, and improving ease of movement. Strength training is important for decreasing the risks for osteoporosis, improving joint stability, and improving posture and balance, and boosting metabolism. So, regardless of your body type or level of fitness, you should seek out a combination of exercises that will give you the benefits from each of these three main categories.
Are washboard abs a sign of health or obsession?
Not necessarily either. Washboard abs mean one thing and one thing only, that you are lean. For some, the process of being and staying that lean is an unhealthy and obsessive one. For others who may be more naturally lean, having washboard abs may just be a nice bonus for eating well and staying fit. The bottom line is that washboard abs are not a measure of one's fitness level and thus should not be what we aspire to. We should aspire to live in a body that feels great, moves well and allows us to lead full, active lives.
What is your fitness philosophy?
I hinted at it in answering the last question. Fitness is not about looking good, it's about feeling good. It's about living in a body that is a lasting source of productivity and enjoyment. Becoming and staying fit and healthy is a life-long process of experimenting with the types of movement that best nourish our bodies, minds and souls.