Health and Wellness Trends at Home
While still amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, people everywhere are discovering new ways to fulfill their health and wellness needs.
For me, and for everyone else, the pandemic made everything more difficult, not just for fitness and health. For those folks who had a regular gym or yoga regimen, adaptation to the new grind was necessary in order to maintain their well-being. Regardless whether it was for strength training, cardio, or peace of mind, the only place to do that initially was the home.
Charles Oransky, owner of the South Portland-based Workout Fitness Store said, “Over the last couple of years, we have definitely seen growth for home equipment. Initially, when gyms closed down, there was quite an upsurge for all types of products. Usually, we do not sell as many weights, benches, and dumbbells as cardio equipment, but that stuff really took off.”
However, cardio machines are now trending more so among homeowners than weights. “The growth continued throughout 2021 with a strong increase in treadmills and exercise bikes, but less strength equipment as gyms and other facilities reopened,” said Oransky.
As I’ve recently acquired an exercise bike, I find it especially convenient as a father and teacher with little to no time for a gym visit. It’s just a different mindset really since it’s all the same muscle movement. Oransky is confident that home fitness will continue to grow because of aging baby boomers and young parents, like me, who find it much more convenient to exercise at home.
For beginners, even the idea of yoga may cause some resistance because some people may feel uncoordinated in a studio full of agile strangers (I can relate). Or, maybe they perceive yoga as everyone “ohmming” in a dark room. But now that many experienced yoga instructors have recorded countless yoga sessions, it’s easy to go with the flow at home.
Yoga with Adriene (https://yogawithadriene.com) is a web-based yoga hub for all levels of experience. With a YouTube channel that has amassed 10.8 million subscribers, Adriene Mishler’s casual and downhome attitude puts the mind at ease, just as much as her quirky jokes make for a good laugh. Personally, I like her “bedtime” yoga routines to help me wind down from the day. After a focus on breath and stretching, my mind is in a much more restful state. My wife, on the other hand, tunes into Mishler’s videos every morning to get her mind right for the day. After all, Mishler’s website clearly states: “Yoga is really the art of waking up.”
Like yoga, meditation can also be a strange concept for many folks who think you have to travel to some mystical place. Meditation is just a way to achieve more mindfulness, and the phone in your pocket can help get you there. I first got into a meditation app hoping that I could reduce back pain. When the pandemic first hit in the spring of 2020, my back gave out due to more constant childcare and overall stress. Just a few minutes a day can make a world of difference. And it has.
“I’ve seen a lot of ways that bodies in pain can find relief,” said Mari Balow, a Portland-based fascial stretch therapist and Pilates instructor. “Once they’ve tried all the muscular fixes like rest, stretching, and strengthening, sometimes meditation can be the last piece of the puzzle that allows the body to unlock mental blocks to physical healing.”
Insight Timer has audio meditation tracks ranging from repetitious ocean waves to guided sleep and relaxation sessions. I never have been the type of person that could just take a nap, even if I’m exhausted. But, now, I can pop my earbuds in and let a professional calm me down via “Yoga Nidra,” which also can be referred to as a “psychic sleep” where you experience a state in between sleep and wakefulness. It either puts me asleep or recharges my batteries in the middle of the day, practically on demand. When I’m restless in the middle of the night, I tune into a guided sleep meditation, which shows you how to relax your brain. Many of what they provide is free; however, they offer a premium membership, which gives you more access to things such as wellness courses.
Nowadays, even something small can make a big difference in our mental and physical well-being. Since there are many affordable and accessible options, folks may find it a bit easier to get back into a groove as they tap into these resources.
J.G.Breerwood teaches English and creative writing at Lewiston High School. He also published his first novel, Sinking Dixie, in 2020.