By Michelle Birmingham
When your schedule gets busy, your fitness or movement practice is often the first thing to get dropped.
I get it! We’re all busy! Between work, family obligations, social events, and household chores, it’s not easy to carve out time for yourself. And if you’re taking care of others, putting yourself at the bottom of the list feels like the least selfish option.
But making space for movement in your life—and protecting that space—isn’t selfish. It’s crucial for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It can improve your overall health, reduce your risk for chronic illness, lower your stress, help you sleep better, boost your self-esteem and confidence, and give you more stable energy throughout the day.
When you show up for yourself, you can show up more fully for everyone else in your life.
Let’s talk about how to create space for your movement practice. I’ll give you some tips on fitting it into your schedule, and finding the actual physical space for your practice.
Carving out space for movement in your schedule
Don’t drop your practice from your schedule! Here’s how to work it in (and protect that time).
Schedule it in: Treat exercise like an appointment and schedule it into your calendar. Make it a non-negotiable part of your day. Try a fitness class at the same time every week, or plan a half-hour of yoga before bed.
Start small: If you're new to exercise or haven't worked out in a while, start small. Even ten minutes of movement a day can make a difference. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend exercising as you build strength and stamina. At The Dance Space, we have multiple classes that are perfect for beginners.
Multitask: Look for ways to incorporate movement into your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk or bike to work, or do a few stretches while you're watching TV.
Find an accountability partner: Having someone to hold you accountable can help to keep you motivated and on track. Partner up with a friend who also wants to prioritize fitness, or take a class where you’ll look forward to seeing your instructor and classmates every week.
Carve out the physical space
Once you know when you’re going to practice, it’s time to decide where.
What inspires you? What gets you in the mindset to move?
Love the great outdoors?
Plan a daily run, walk, or bike ride through your local park. Or find a great swimming spot. As Nantucketers, we’re so lucky to have incredible trails, bike paths, and beaches right outside the door. Getting outside, especially in nature, has its own set of mental health benefits. (The Japanese even have a term for it: forest bathing! It’s said to be deeply stress relieving.)
Head to the gym!
If you want to work out alone, a gym gives you access to strength training and cardio equipment, so you don’t have to make a huge investment in a home gym. A lot of gyms also have pools or spaces like running tracks.
Would you rather stay home?
It can be tough to get your yoga routine in if the only place you have to practice is in front of the family TV. Try setting aside a space in your home, like the basement or a corner of your bedroom that’s only used for your movement practice.
Put any exercise equipment there, like your treadmill, dumbbells, or resistance bands. A lot of people like having mirrors in their workout space, so they can check their form. (This helps you ensure that you’re not doing an exercise unsafely.) Check on Amazon for affordable options.
You don’t need exercise equipment, though. Tailor your space to your particular practice. Decorate it with your yoga mat, a meditation bell, an incense burner, or anything else that shifts you into a movement mindset.
If you’re going to work out to videos or a fitness app, make a space for your TV, computer, or tablet.
Join a fitness class!
This is my favorite option (of course!) Joining a group fitness class gives you all the benefits of movement, while adding a fun social element that keeps you inspired, challenged, and accountable. Practicing alone makes it easy to skip your workout, but signing up for a class feels more like a commitment to yourself (even if there’s no subscription plan involved).
Making friends as an adult can sometimes be tough, and a lot of people find their tribe at their group fitness class. (Hey, you already know you have something in common!)
Find a movement class that fits your style and goals at The Dance Space on Nantucket Island. Go high-energy with Dance Cardio or Bounce, or keep it lower key with Yoga Flex + Flow. Sculpt will help you tone and strengthen your muscles, while dance classes like Tap or Contemporary give you a language for body-centric self-expression.
Respect your space
Once you have your space carved out, do your best to honor it.
I know it’s easy to get off track, skipping a class here or there. If that happens, don’t beat yourself up about it. Slipping up is natural. It happens to us all in different ways. When you find yourself in that position, have compassion for yourself and get back on track.
I heard a metaphor once that applies really well here. When you’re driving and you go a bit off the road, hitting the rumble strip, you don’t just keep driving off the road. You do a little course correction, and then return where you want to be.
Your movement practice exists to support you. I like the phrase, “Your practice doesn’t take time; it makes time.” That’s right on! It may feel like you don’t have time, but when you honor your movement practice, you might just feel a greater sense of spaciousness open up in your life. That’s because it can help you keep a healthy perspective and keep your priorities balanced.
Come see us at The Dance Space, and let’s get moving together!