Home Practice What I have learned about being “into” fitness for the past 20 years.

What I have learned about being “into” fitness for the past 20 years.

by Arundhati Baitmangalkar

I’ve been in the health, wellness & fitness industry for the past 20 years. More than half my lifetime. Over the years, I’ve picked up lessons along the way. That I want to share here with you. I often don’t talk much about my personal journey & keep the focus on yoga, teaching yoga teachers, and dancing if that’s how we’ve connected. But the truth is, I think it would be a disservice to not share this with you. As I end up having one on one conversations with many clients at the studio, on the podcast and even on Instagram.

So recently I set out to make a list of 20 things I have learned in 20 years of being in this industry. Though my list today for you will exceed 20, I have narrowed these down the best I can. So here goes.

  1. You can’t be “into” fitness. It’s not a trend. There are no crash diets, no shortcuts, and you can’t speed up to where you want to go. This will work for a while but will fizzle out quick. Take the classic approach over anything gimmicky or fast.
  2. You have to adapt an athlete’s mindset. You don’t have to be an athlete. But you need the mindset of one. (more on this another time)
  3. It’s not hard. But what is hard is that you think it needs to or will be easy.
  4. Stop trying to look or be like your 20-year-old self. That ship has sailed. If I had a dollar for every time someone said they want to look like how they were in their 20s. I wouldn’t be blogging right now.
  5. Fitness is not about weight loss. Or how you look in the mirror. It’s how you feel on the inside and out. Even on the crummiest days of them all. Stop trying to squeeze yourself onto a number on the scale.
  6. Yes, you need discipline. Subjective discipline. Inspiration and motivation can help maybe get the ball rolling. What keeps you going is your athlete mindset and discipline.
  7. You need a support system at home with your partner for this to really work. Especially if you’re raising a young family. Real support means making sacrifices and changes to accommodate another person’s needs & goals. More on this in another post.
  8. Set realistic goals. I think if you just get this right. Everything else can fall into place.
  9. Get clear on your “why”. If your why is strong enough it can hold you long-term. Find your why and the rest will become easier.
  10. If you started late(r) in life, or are starting from a point of deficit (injury, post-pregnancy etc) know that you have a steeper hill to climb. It’s okay as long as you have your why & realistic expectations in place.
  11. Fitness doesn’t mean only going to the gym. There are many creative ways of moving your body. Understand what type of fitness you’re seeking. Find a good balance of a couple of different things (more on this later)
  12. Stop thinking of what others will think of you. You don’t do this for others you do this for yourself alone
  13. Starving yourself & going to war with food won’t help. Get a more informed perspective & fix your relationship with food with professional help
  14. Learn how to say no in social situations with family and friends. Start setting healthy boundaries that match your new goals.
  15. Stop trying to be thin. Thin doesn’t mean fit.
  16. Women need to take into account which part of their menstrual cycle phase they’re in and workout accordingly
  17. Seek help from professionals in the industry who have stood the test of time. Not a DIY influencer who started 5 months ago on Instagram
  18. Sleep is a part of fitness
  19. Mental health affects physical health
  20. Exercise for the stage of life you’re in. Not for your 20-year-old self.
  21. Understand that fitness isn’t fun. It can be and it is for many. But don’t get recreation mixed up with hardcore fitness
  22. Consistency is the name of this game
  23. It’s okay if no one understands why this matters to you
  24. Shame and blame will take you nowhere. Be careful what you’re feeding yourself.
  25. Sometimes you’ll get injured. Athletes get injured all the time. Get up, shake it off & find a way out
  26. Throw out clothes that no longer fit you
  27. Learn to incorporate movement snacks into your day. For ex – carry a basket instead of pushing a cart at a grocery store, park far away from the entrance, and take the stairs at work.
  28. There isn’t one approach that will work for all in fitness. This is where a professional can help.
  29. Start building muscle mass instead of making weight loss your goal
  30. Women have a harder time with body image. So get ahead of this. Talk to other women in the industry for help
  31. Workout outside when possible
  32. Find a healthy mix of weights, cardio and yoga into the same week.
  33. Can’t start when you’re older. Start now so you get older better
  34. You have to make time. Right now. Because the more you put this off, the harder it will get
  35. Change your circle of friends if needed
  36. Educate yourself – the more you know why you do something the easier it becomes
  37. You can hack away at it but sometimes paying for professional help (if you can afford it) might work better
  38. You have to be relentless, one day it will become effortless
  39. You will have bad days. Its okay. As long as you get back up
  40. Find a fitness buddy who is 2 steps ahead instead of friend who has never worked out before to help you stay accountable.

To be honest, I can go on and on. But I hope this list serves as a reminder to get started. To not make it about being thin. To not make it about how you look, alone. But fitness and wellness are much more multi-dimensional. I hope you find your way to the right resources, the right teachers and the right classes for you. This will take some trial and error at first as well as consistency of effort from your end.

But I hope this list helps.


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