Going barefoot is a natural state of being for us, especially Indians. Even now, in some Indian villages, people spend almost 100% of their time barefoot. Many wander through fields and do hard, physical laborious work, and yet they rarely develop any feet problems. Instead, it has been proven that being barefoot actually strengthens your feet to support the rest of your body the way nature intended, which is one reason why barefoot training has taken a huge leap forward in recent years.
Wearing different types of footwear and always keeping our feet confined and protected actually has the opposite effect to strengthening. We are providing cushions and insulation to our feet, which then make our feet dormant and lazy, after which foot problems can arise (which we blame on footwear and the ground!). Think of it this way – why are humans the only species on earth who feel the need to wear shoes?
Going barefoot also improves our proprioception – which is the sensory input we receive from the soles of our feet, which plays a role in our stability, balance and coordination. It helps us to connect to the earth and to the environment, thereby allowing us to move in every way possible. The more stable the body, the more benefits we can reap from our workouts. Our feet create stability and help our body feel safe – and this stability allows us to progress further in all our workouts, without the danger of losing balance.
Feet affect everything – almost all of us know about the reflexology points in the soles of our feet, which connect to all parts of our body and nervous system. Your foot is connected to your core (pelvic floor and abdominal) – so all the more reason to train barefoot, to give you a strong core, flat abs, prevent back pain and improve running speed.
More benefits of working out barefoot include: stronger arches, improved muscle alignment, stronger ankles, increased flexibility, and healthier feet overall. It also strengthens our entire body by helping energy to flow smoothly through our body.
Barefoot running has gained huge popularity in the past decade, but several other regimes can be followed on a barefoot program, including yoga, martial arts, gymnastics etc. Barefoot and minimalist training is the most ideal way to workout, however your body needs to be properly prepared first. At Holistique, you get to train under Barefoot Master Instructor and Physiotherapist (Dr Anuja Luniya), and the program fuses a blend of workout styles conducted entirely barefoot, which gives additional benefits which you now know!
Let’s talk about exercise, fitness and health in the Indian setting. Enough has been written about this topic from a western perspective, and now that the fitness trend is picking up in India, we ought to embrace this movement!
Women’s fitness in particular has picked up significantly, with women-centric studios and programs cropping up. We all know exercise is essential, especially due to our sedentary lifestyles. For women this is all the more important – from young girls, to post menopausal women, and everyone in between. The benefits of exercise for women are countless throughout all stages of life. From building bone strength and muscle mass to preventing gynecological problems to restoring posture, balance and functional independence, the benefits are endless. And today’s Indian woman knows it!
And yet, the question remains: why do only 10-15% of Indian women exercise? What about the other 90-85%? The myriad of reasons for women not having time to exercise is astounding. Health cannot and should not be taken for granted! It’s always better to jump on the prevention bandwagon first, rather than learn the hard way.
Now, exercise does not mean a walk in the park for an hour. There are a variety of workout styles for a reason. Women need to incorporate strength training, especially Indian women (more on why in a later blog). Your exercise toolkit should have a variety of workout styles so that you achieve not just the weight loss benefit but other benefits of exercise. And sorry ladies, stretching is not working out! And doing cardio to lose those tyres isn’t going to work! Walking, jogging, running, cycling or an hours Aerobics/Zumba (no matter how much fun) are all good but alone, are not enough to keep you fit. Cardio is only one aspect of fitness. You need strength, balance, agility, power, flexibility, reduced risk of lifestyle diseases and hormonal balance too. You need exercises to keep you gynecologically healthy (the number of young girls with PCOD is on the rise and so is the number of women going in for IVF).
Exercise to show and maintain results requires sincerity, dedication and perseverance. Before joining a class, make sure you get to know what the exercise program is all about. Does it interest you? Do you think you can persevere with it? Always choose a program that you will be able to enjoy and sustain, because that’ll keep you from quitting.
Healthy living is not by chance. It’s a choice. A lot of little choices you make everyday to live healthy. Now ask yourself, do you really want to take your health for granted?
The Indian Woman. Where do we start to describe her. Obviously there is no ‘one size fits all’, no generalizations that can be made about Indian women, because we come in all shapes and sizes. But one thing that Indian women do have in common (mostly) is their selflessness in prioritizing other things before their own health. Whether it’s a new bride who wants to put in effort into new relationships, or a new mom who puts her kids needs first, or an ambitious career woman who makes sure she never lets the ball drop at work. The connecting thread is that Indian women generally have this mentality of considering their own health only after all the rest of the work gets done.
Indian mothers make sure their child joins enough extracurricular classes – dance, martial arts, sports, theatre, arts – to keep them active. To help their children develop into healthy individuals. They make sure their husbands have their post workout meal ready after gym. She takes all measures to see to it that her family eats healthy. Then why does she skimp on her health? Her nutrition? Why does she eat whatever is there? How come no effort is taken to see to it that the lady of the house eats well and stays active?
We believe this is the very mentality that needs to change. A woman needs to give health and fitness equal priority as other matters in her life. After all, it’s only in good health that we can enjoy and achieve all of life’s demands. We no longer live like our previous generations, who believed in sacrificing every personal desire for the greater good of the family. Young moms no longer feel the need to eat the leftover scraps off their kids’ plates, and many mothers now utilize the time when their kids are engaged in an activity class to do some exercise of their own.
These are the mindset changes we foster in the women I coach. It’s a simple yet powerful change – when you exercise regularly and see the “holistique” benefits you gain not just physically but emotionally too, you realize that it’s a lifestyle choice to embrace for the rest of your life.
Don’t you think it’s high time we Indian ladies show ourselves the same importance, love and dedication we shower on our loved ones every single day? Your health is not an expense but an investment, for your family and yourself. Choose to invest in yourself.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this post which goes into detail about which exercises are necessary and suitable for Indian women!
It’s no secret that our lives have become more and more sedentary, thanks to the influx of technology in our lives, and the fact that we outsource a lot of physical tasks to domestic help. Previous generations did a lot more physical work, even visits to the local bank and grocery stores, as these facilities were not available to them online as they are to us now. Hence the necessity to make movement a conscious part of our daily lives. We can even use technology (e.g fitbit reminders) to help us with this! Holistique is a contemporary movement based program, which has a multi-disciplinary approach. The workout fuses the age old principles of yoga with the latest evidence based body-weight workout styles. The sessions are small group personal coaching sessions with every client receiving personal attention from the coach.
Of equal importance to moving the body is to fuel it with the right nutrients. That is why Nourish is the second step of the Holistique program, because health is nothing without food. The Indian way of living, when it comes to food, is vastly dependent on the different sub-cultures that we all belong to. A Bengali family’s eating habits are extremely different to a Gujarati’s, for example. But at the very essence, the fundamentals remain the same. Indians know a million and one nourishing recipes which are not only good for us, but taste delicious too, as opposed to the bland and boiled options we often see coming from western influenced diets. The Holistique program helps you choose the right foods for your diet, without sacrificing the taste. Holistique emphasizes the marriage of movement and food with balanced eating recommendations and personalized meal planning by an experienced nutritionist and foodie!
To rejuvenate is to look or feel better, younger, or more vital. At Holistique, we have kept this in mind whilst designing our program. It’s a program that not only exercises your body beautifully, but also makes you aware of how you feel, thereby exercising your mind positively as well. It makes you conscious of how your thoughts and actions affect your lifestyle. And it stays with you long after the session – because we all know that simply doing one session of exercise is not going to get real results. It’s the remaining hours in the day that we need to practice mindfulness in our thoughts, and exercise discipline in our actions. And with Holistique, we will ensure you do this with joy, because joining this program will make you feel whole – in body, mind and spirit.
Being a physiotherapist and fitness coach, I’ve come across so many women for whom working out with help of free weights or machines is a strict No-No. There are so many myths in their minds about working out with weights. Most of them feel that weight training is only for men who aim to have a 20 inch biceps or a 6 -pack abs.