Do You Exercise? (On Purpose?)

Do you exercise?

For years, I’ve just biked and walked around town, but now that I’m 35 with two babies, it’s not cutting it anymore. I feel creaky and achy, and my back always hurts. (It takes me like 30 seconds to straighten my back after standing up, no joke.) I’d love to get more toned and flexible and maybe take an exercise class. So, I’d really like to know: What kind of exercise do you do?

My history of exercise:

Childhood: Running around.

Teenage years: Daily ballet classes. Riding my mom’s NordiTrack in our foyer.

College: Tae Bo on VHS with my roommates. (It was actually kind of amazing.)

One summer in my early twenties: WALKING on the treadmill at the gym every night while watching Felicity reruns. (Team Ben, btw.)

One day in my late twenties: I took a yoga class and was so inflexible that I felt embarrassed and didn’t go back.

Twenties, early thirties: Biking and walking everywhere and hoping it adds up to a decent amount. Taking stairs instead of elevators (see: phobia).

So, now I need to bolster my routine. When Jessie raved about SoulCycle yesterday, I was really intrigued. I’m also wondering if I should give yoga another chance? Or pilates, Pure Barre, Zumba? Brazilian Butt Lift?! I would LOVE to hear what you do! Please send any and all suggestions my way :) Thank you so much!
P.S. Seeing movies alone, and riding bikes with babies.

(Photo of international pupils at an outdoor physical education class at the English-Scandinavian Summer School by William Vanderson.)

  1. I don’t know where in Brooklyn you live, but I highly recommend the Adult Ballet classes at Cobble Hill Ballet. I’ve also heard that the classes at Mark Morris are great.

    Slick Pie

    I did a lot of ballet in my childhood and teen years. Later on in life I practiced yoga intensely. I’m now in my 40’s, and find both yoga and a return to ballet immensely satisfying and effective.

  2. Alex says...

    I really recommend Barre 3. I started off doing Barre 3 in their original studio in Portland and then when I moved to London I did their online workouts everyday. Now that I am in New York I alternate between going to a studio class or doing one of the online (they have hundreds of videos on their website and each is AMAZING) classes. With Barre 3 I don’t need to do any other workout (I walk a lot in New York so that helps too), so it really is the perfect workout.
    Their online subscription is only $15 per month so it is totally worth it! Check them out:

  3. Pam Tremblay says...

    Running is my passion and I am always amazed at how anyone can run!! I didn’t start running until I met my partner Ed who is a runner and I was about 45 years young. I’m now 54 and just did my first 1/2 marathon and have also joined a running group in Bangor Maine. We meet every Monday evening and I have to say I’m always at the back of the pack but this group is so amazing and supportive and I can tell I’ve gotten much stronger as a runner, Ed has always said, run with people who are better then you, that’s how you get better, it’s so true!

  4. So many comments! So many options. I’ve done Jazzercise* for the last 25 years. I’m 47 and have 6 year old twins. As soon as I could workout again after the c-section I was back. Not many people have mentioned the challenge of working out when you have kids. About 8 years ago I started running and doing yoga. These days I run, do yoga or a spin class or make something up at home with weights.
    *Not very available in NYC.

  5. I know I’m a bit late, but if you’re still looking for a form of exercise, definitely try Shaun T’s T25 program. Only half an hour a day, at home (!!!), no need for any tool for the first month and then just a pair of weights… and it works like magic!!!!!! Give it a try! My husband and I do it together (even now that I’m 5 months pregnant) in the morning and we simply love it! Sets the day right! :-)

  6. i think it’s all about finding what’s right for YOU. i personally hate classes. i hate having to be somewhere at a specific time and having to sit still while listening to instructions. it’s just not for me.

    i was athletic in high school and thin up until a few years ago until i put on an extra 45lbs (im 29 now). i joined a $10/mo gym in February and have since lost 35lbs by getting on the elliptical, arc trainer, or treadmill for an hour a day, 5 days per week. i’ve found that i workout much better in the mornings when my energy is full, and that i’m pretty much worthless in the afternoons. i don’t kill myself on the machines… on the treadmill, i walk a good part of the time, but every few minutes or so i’ll increase the pace until i can’t run anymore which is usually only 4 or 5 minutes!

    also, weight lifting is KEY. you don’t have to do a lot just 20 minutes or so every few days.

  7. You should go to adult ballet classes! Although I didn’t dance as a kid, I take class now and LOVE it. I know some women who go 3 or 4 times a week and are in excellent shape. Boston Ballet even offers a 2 week summer intensive program for adults – I did it last year and it was awesome.

  8. Yes!

    I didn’t exercise at all through college and saw it slowly taking a toll on me once I graduated. I had friends who were running half marathons already, so I kind of jumped on the bandwagon. I loved the idea of having a training plan.

    Now I run all the time, go to the gym to do some strength training, yoga once a week, and hike & ski on the weekends. I usually have a goal in mind that keeps me going – this year it’s to be able to keep up with my friends skiing as I just learned this past year!

  9. I totally did Tae Bo and the tv-treadmill! Tae Bo was amazing!! Billy Blanks is just the King! Nowadays I’m pregnant so I’ve been doing pre-natal pilates and good god is it amazing, it makes me feel totally zen and yet very refreshed. I started doing it before work in the mornings which made the underground journey a lot more bearable as I was sooooo calm. Since moving my daily journey is longer so I’ve had to wait until weekend or sneak in a quick 10 mins before I hop in the shower. Those moments are the best though and really really REALLY make me feel happy and relaxed! I will most definitely continue with pilates post-baby!

  10. I’ve been wanting to take up yoga for so long, myself, and I even bought a mat! It sounds like a grand idea and very complementary to my “hippie” ways. Barre sounds pretty interesting, too, now that I’ve looked it up courtesy of everyone’s suggestions!

  11. I go to an AMAZING pilates studio in Carroll Gardens that I totally adore (I walk past many closer studios on my way there — I live in Brooklyn Heights — but this place is the best). The Pilates Boutique ( I love chatting with all the nice women there while taking group classes. And getting super strong is a bonus too!

  12. I used to do Pilates and found it was good core exercise so it’s good for reinforcing your back. Now, I’m also an old lady (41 with for kids), I do weigth lifting (light!!) and either stationnary bike or the elliptical machine. I to have back ache (and neck, feet, …) and I find that since I’m training regularly (3-4 times a week), I feel a lot better. Good luck!

  13. Fitstar – it is a great app that is your in-home personal trainer. It updates your workouts for you, gives variety and you really do see results. My friends and family use it around the world and it is really motivating to see everyone stick with it (updates and peer pressure are a great motivator!)

  14. HI..
    If you’ve done ballet earlier in your life and it always fascinates you, you should take lessons for adults. It was the same about me and now it’s my fourth year after restarting ballet lessons and I love it, love it. love it. It isn’t only my Body changing, it’s so amazing for Feeling good!

  15. I have been addicted to hot yoga for almost 5 years now – not the scary Bikram hot yoga that you hear stories about, but heated vinyassa classes.

    My favorite studio in New York is Moksha yoga on 6th Avenue and 10th Street. LOVE this studio, I try to go at least three times a week. I highly recommend you give it a shot! They have a $40 intro month where you can take as many classes as you like. I would suggest starting with a 60 minute Modo or Yin Yang class, they really ease you into the postures.

    And remember – yoga is not about being the most flexible, it’s about listening to your body and moving in ways that make you feel balanced, aligned, and strong. :)

    Check them out here: and if you try it let me know how it goes!

  16. the new yogaworks studio opened in brooklyn last month. they have wonderful promotions to get new students in the door. yoga is hard at first…but i promise that it gets easier each time and you become a better person for taking the time to do it (not only for your body,but for your mind). and i find i’m a better mom after i’ve taken a class. good luck!

  17. I’m a Soul Cycle devotee (twice a week, MAX) and other than that I do hot yoga at Prana Power Yoga on Smith Street! Since you just moved near there, I think you should give it a try. It’s an awesome studio!!

  18. If you’re interested in yoga but it wasn’t quite your thing then I definitely recommend Pilates!

    I’m a Pilates instructor and have free workouts on my site ( I keep my workouts short and effective for busy women/moms at home…because sometimes all we have is 10 minutes. :) Pilates (like yoga) is fantastic for stress-reduction, anxiety and overall well being. And you see great results in a short amount of time. :)

    It feels great after a long stretch at the computer. xo

  19. I love the classes at Exhale spa. I fell in love with them while on vacation in Turks, and I happily drag myself
    out of bed early each and every day when I am visiting NYC to go to a class (when I am supposed to be on vacation and sleeping in)! All the classes give you a great workout, the teachers are motivating and their barre class reminds me of when I was a dancer. I think you would enjoy them! I really wish they had them in Toronto! I like that while they offer a great workout, they also remind you to take some time for your soul- I always leave feeling rejuvenated!

  20. after reading through the many comments, it all comes down to just do(ing) it. as suggested, once you find the right fit, it will become part of your routine and one which will enrich your life and the lives of your loved ones.

    personally, i have been active in most types listed -from step aerobics, the very beginnings of what came to be known as tae-bo, yoga (teacher training), spinning, cross fit, trx, and now soul cycle. as a mother of 2 grown children i can tell you my choices were based on family life and juggling schedules. i was a more patient and kind wife and mother as a result of the time spent nurturing myself as well as the wide variety of friends i met through sweat.

    regarding yoga, as passed onto me by my guru, ‘yoga is for everybody but not everybody is for yoga”.

  21. PILATES! It creates functional fitness so that the movements you make on a daily basis are easier. Focused on strength and injury-prevention. Mat Pilates is accessible and beginner-friendly and DEFINITELY worth trying!

  22. I’ve been taking Pilates Reformer classes and TRX and in just three weeks I have seen a noticeable difference in my strength, flexibility, endurance, and my butt is firmer!

  23. Bikram! I have done yoga for years–lots of Vinyasa, Core Power-y kind of things with weights–but I really have settled into Bikram. I have gotten stronger, calmer, and avoided silly injuries (which is important when you have two toddlers!).

  24. Yet another fellow ‘old lady’ here. All my life the only thing that has stuck for me is ballet class. The few times in my life that I’ve attempted the gym were soooo boring and drab. I couldn’t get into it-Ever! Pilates is really nice strength training. Tried P90X for a bit with my husband. Needless to say, he completed it, I got pregnant and had an out-yaaaay! BalletBeatiful is perfectly suited to me. I also liked The New York City Ballet workout. I just really enjoy a great ballet class for so many reasons. I will keep taking until I’m 90 strapping years old I hope! Cheers.

  25. Finding the right instructor is key – get back on a yoga mat! Many studios have basics classes, I teach at an amazing center in Williamsburg that has basics classes every day. I’d highly suggest Abhyasa as a place to start your practice! There are a lot of great studios around our hood, find something that fits!

  26. Welcome to Brooklyn; you should check out a sweet little ballet school in your hood. Cobble Hill Ballet; I took several adult classes there before I moved away. Such a nice group of women of all backgrounds and ages and I was surprised how much I liked it after taking ballet sort of begrudgingly as a child.

  27. I highly recommend barre. It’s great for core strength, toning, and flexibility. It’s like pilates but a bit harder, and focused on arms and thighs/butt in addition to core strength. You’d be perfect with your dance background. I’ve never danced and couldn’t even touch my ankles when I first started, and it wasn’t intimidating at all.

    The name “barre” isn’t proprietary like Crossfit for instance, so each studio/chain is a little different, so I’d test out a few in your area.

    I also work in a couple of days of cardio in addition to barre. Swimming is by far my favorite form of cardio. No impact and a great workout!

  28. I LOVE Tracy Anderson. Since I absolutely detest working out but I know I have to, I need a program, something regimented to make me do it. Tracy’s Metamorphosis does it for me. After baby #2 I did it 6 days a week, an hour each time and I actually got back to my pre-baby size. Now after baby #3, I’m doing it again, only dropping it to a half hour a day. I just want to be in shape and feel healthy, but I still need that regimen. Nice thing is, the floor work is different every ten times you do it, so that helps keep it interesting. Gotta do it at home. It’s good for the kids to see that I’m taking care of myself. I do it with a smile on my face even though I’m hating every minute of it!

  29. Welcome to the neighborhood, Joanna! The yoga studio, Bend & Bloom, on Sackett between 4th and 5th in Park Slope is really great and non-judgemental. I’ve also gotten the best workout of my life (which admittedly isn’t saying a lot since I have a similar workout philosophy as yours) from Pure Barre in Cobble Hill on Court St. They have a new client special that’s $150 for the first month.

  30. I started experiencing muscle stiffness around a year after I had my first child. It is so bizarre. Fast forward two years and I learned I am dairy, gluten, and night shade sensitive! If you’re not familiar with night shades, they include tomatoes, white potatoes (sweet potatoes are not night shades), peppers, and eggplant. There may be more, but those are the ones I know of. Now that I don’t eat those foods, I’m not waking up stiff everyday and walking around like I’m 90. Additionally, I started using They have the best workout videos I’ve ever used and they’re all free. You can choose the difficult level, the type, and so much more. I do the pilates a lot and have noticed a HUGE difference in my flexibility. :)

  31. Barre and pilates are my fave! I think yoga is best if you ARE super unflexible! You will see results so quickly and every week you will be able to do something you couldn’t the week before, it’s very gratifying. Not to mention how calming and zen it is :)

  32. Hi, Joanna! What a great post! In the last year, I’ve gotten pretty into fitness and health, and it’s such a rewarding process. I work generally out 7 days a week, in various forms (variety is vitally important). In the mornings around 5:30 I either take two classes at the gym (weightlifting/ cardio/ abs), or go for a run and do an ab series at home. I take about 5 yoga classes a week, in the evenings and on Saturday mornings. Recently I’ve been riding my bike and trying to get in at least 10 miles per week. Outdoor fitness is my favorite, but I don’t get to hike as often as I’d like (pardon the rhyming). Running and biking are fantastic, but it closes off the hips, so I’d suggest trying yoga again! It’s so beneficial for strength, balance, and flexibility. Find a studio with an instructor with whom you’re really comfortable. Best of luck!

  33. Les Mills classes are the best. As we age we need to focus on our muscles and building strength his workouts which are offered in many sports clubs are geared to all levels and combine cardio and strength training which help maintain metabolism rates and reduce issues of osteoporosis in the future. Check it out. I’ve lost 15 pounds of fat and gained 8 pounds of lean muscle in the last year.

  34. I’m a bit late to his party… and not going thru nearly 600 comments, but I guess I might as well add my $0.02. I think that walking and biking everywhere is a huge part of fitness… a lot of people would be slimmer and healthier (me included!) if we did this more often. It’s very European to do that sort of thing and often difficult in North America where one has to usually drive everywhere. Anyway, my advice would be to keep trying things until you find something you love. I enjoy swimming and lifting weights. Something about lifting weights just makes me feel powerful… and I have recently gotten into kettlebells as well. I need to do all this more often, but I am slowly easing into a more regular routine. I would try something at least 3x without giving up on it. It also helps to know yourself. I like exercising by myself… with my own thoughts… so something like dodgeball would not fly. If you love people, a team sport might be a good idea. I also know I HATE going to the gym. I quite liked yoga, but I find that I only really do it when I am in the class… and for me, the cost prevents me from going regularly… and I don’t really think of it as exercise so much as a much needed occasional relaxation treat.

  35. You’re in luck! Barre3 just opened it’s first NYC studio. Check it out!

  36. Barre has changed my life and body. I feel leaner, stronger, have a ton more energy and actually look forward to that hour in my day. Enjoy!

  37. I found Antigravity yoga a few years ago and love it so much I got certified to teach it! I have a ballet background but this technique is so much more. It’s a fusion of dance, yoga, fitness, and most importantly, fun! Zero compression inversions are great for your back as well as for refreshing your body’s systems and giving you a new perspective. It can be really gentle..there’s a restorative version done on the floor, and there’s a new Airbarre, which will give you a great workout. It’s a really fun and versatile technique. Give it a try!

  38. I love Soulcycle. You get a great full body workout and its only 45mins. I only go twice a week though because it is pricey. Danny at UNSQ is my favorite instructor. The culty vibe does really pull you in so be careful around the merchandise!

  39. I do all the free Jillian Michaels workouts that I can find on Amazon prime. :) My favorite is definitely her yoga video. I like how it mixes movement with the poses and that it’s not crazy intense. But I still feel like its a good workout. I would definitely give yoga another shot!

  40. I think the best exercise plan is one that you enjoy. That way you’re more likely to continue it. I like variety in my workouts, so generally do something different each day. Consistantcy is the key. And give it a chance as well, it will take at least 2 weeks to notice any changes. Also don’t undo all your hard work with your eating habits.

    I’d love to hear about your progress in a month or two.

  41. I have back issues, the best for me is a combination of the rowing machine ( loosen my back) and TRX ( core training): the studio i go to have a class that combine both, i love it.

  42. I’ve just started Pilates classes after recently moving from England to Brazil…and using the specific Pilates apparatus is sooo different to the floorwork more common in England. If NY has dedicated Pilates studios then I definitely recommend; it’s a great work-out but feels ‘accidentally’ so, and after just a couple weeks I’m already feeling the benefits. I blogged about it the other day if you’d like to read more about it: PS: Have been reading from England for a few years now but hadn’t commented yet, love your writing! Jamie x

  43. Joannaaaaa! I was on the same exact search as you! At 36, not only had I not exercised in years but I was also trying to find something that kept me engaged. For a while it was kickboxing and I still think there is a serious possibility you could become a bit obsessed with that but my latest and greatest is most definitely Barre 3 which gives you an intense workout but is nice to the body. No over exerting in a way where you could hurt yourself. (Which is super important to a bit of a clumsemonster like me!) Anyhow, it looks like they are just about to open a location in the West Village and they have AMAZING online classes! Best of luck!

  44. Rebounding! Get a quality rebounder not one from a workout store or sports store, but a good one from the internet. Mine is a Bellicon. Worth the money, so much fun, super healthy for the lymphatic system, and good for your kids too! Read up on rebounding!

  45. Zumba was amazing after having my baby. Dancing really lifts my spirit. I find myself craving it- something I NEVER thought I would feel about exercise.

  46. I’m trying to establish a new routine as well right now, so I feel like sharing . I started cycling to work and this has become my go to workout since unavoidable (got to get to the office) and it is about 26k (I’m European so yeah – metric ;) ) both ways. This helped me shape up pretty quick, but to balance things out I also run four times a week and also do yoga for 90 minutes at a great studio Iyengar school, which I find is best for anyone with back problems. It’s a nice slow, relaxing pace, it stretches me out and calms me down, so I love it.
    I also love swimming, but find it difficult to fit into my schedule. Perhaps I’ll just replace running with swimming in winter.
    I try not to “workout” but to make sports part of my life, something to enjoy not endure, so it’s not all set in stone. I try new things all the time.
    Good luck!

  47. I love running, I am not a very good runner but i like to run 4-5 km several days per week ( 4 or 5)
    Before my second daugther was borno i go for spinning classes too, in fact i became spinning instructor and work for a year as it.
    Now i only have time for a quick run some days but i think it keeps me in shape

    I am preparing a post about what running has made for me

  48. A girlfriend in college got me incredibly addicted to running – you can go at any pace, go with friends or alone, and even sign up for a fun race like a 5k to motivate you even further. Otherwise, I’ve always enjoyed Zumba classes, and yoga gets easier the more you go. Kudos to you! Hope you find a class/workout/activity that you love!

  49. I’m 33 and just signed up for a swim for fitness class at the local university! I used to be a marathon runner but after 5 marathons, four doctors told me it’s too hard on my feet. (Ahh, good to know.)

    But I worked in rural Japan last year – away from gyms, yoga studios, running paths, swimming pools, etc – and I actually did a lot of workouts on my computer.

    I loved Yoga Today’s videos because they’re ALWAYS filmed in gorgeous locations.

    Bethenny also has a great yoga video, mainly because of Kristin McGee. She used to teach the MTV dvd’s!

    And the cult classics, Ali McGraw’s yoga DVD and/or Cindy Crawford’s The Next Challenge, are brilliant.

    Not that I play a musical instrument – but I’d like to! – and when I asked a friend who is a music teacher what I should play, she said pick something you like the sound of and just be consistent. I think it’s the same with workouts too.

    Keep it simple and do it often. Maybe you just need to bike and walk a bit more? Tiny changes can yield big results:)

  50. Team BEN all the way! Haha

  51. I’m a pretty sporty chick – I’m on an all-women’s cycling team, and I race road and cyclocross. It’s so much fun! I do yoga for flexibility and Russian kettlebell traing for stength. I absolutely love it, and I can rock 30 “guy” push-ups! I probably ride 100 miles a week or more when I’m training for race season, and wrights twice a week. In the slower months, I’m lucky to get 3 – 4 hours a week on the bike.

  52. A friend of mine just got hooked on Pure Barre, so I’m headed there with her next week!

  53. I agree with the above commenter. Yoga has changed my life. I used to take classes at the YMCA, boot camp, step aerobics, 100% abs, etc but never really felt myself get stronger. They were all calorie blasters but not really fulfilling; repetative. Once I discovered yoga, that all changed. I could not only see a physical shift in my muscles, they were there, slowly & currently being carved, but I feel a sense of accomplishment each time I leave my mat. Poses that once were a challenge become simpler with time and you truly come to realize how absolutely awesome and strong your body is! It’s easy to get down on yourself but try to remember that you shouldn’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. No one is judging you but yourself. In fact, one of my favorite things is seeing my fellow classmates grow. It’s beautiful!

  54. Get a baby jogger and run with the kiddos! – quickest way to stay fit and healthy for you, bonus outside/fresh air time for them!

  55. I have a few years on you – I started to get super creaky after 40 and then I discovered Pilates. I’ve done private sessions on the apparatus as well as mat classes, which I try to get to at least two times a week and it’s been a life changer. It has kept my lower back issues at bay, made me more flexible, stand up straighter and when I go regularly, keeps my core tight and arms toned. I felt much like you about yoga (and keep thinking I need to try again… sometime). Of course, you’ll need some cardio, too, maybe more cycling since you like that?

  56. I HIGHLY recommend Mala Yoga on Court St. – try one of Stephanie’s Sunday Basics Class. She is a fantastic teacher and she really has a modern take on Yoga!

  57. Jo, try ClassPass – you can try a variety of classes: spin, barre, row, boot camp, pilates, yoga and everything else in between.

  58. ND says...

    I agree with other comments about Barre3 — I usually prefer going classes in person, but somehow Barre3 videos get me motivated about working out at home. I like Barre3 more than other barre classes because of the variety of exercises and all the modifications they offer. Once you subscribe they send you the small inflatable ball to use. I bought some light free weights for the exercises too. They go a long way!

    Definitely give their free workout video a shot!

  59. Hi Joanna! Have you heard of barre3?! My cousin turned me onto it, and I’m in LOVE. Sadie Lincoln’s DVDs are the best I’ve ever done. She’s so sweet and lovely and gives the best instructions, even turning so you can see her body from different angles or pointing out postures on her “back up dancers” :) Barre3 is a combo of ballet, pilates, and yoga, so you’ll probably love it even more with your background in ballet. They have a couple free complete workouts on their site (Sadie’s kitchen workout is my fave!), and you can either buy DVDs, sign up for an online subscription, or take classes in a studio (they just opened one in the West Village). It’s honestly my favorite workout ever ~ in just 10 mins, I feel like I get a great complete body workout that makes me feel awesome without feeling exhausted. And all of the workouts are broken down into 10 min segments, so a busy mom can squeeze in some exercise a little bit at a time, if needed. And you’ll love Sadie…She’s one of those gals with whom you immediately want to be besties ;) xo

  60. I was the same way in public yoga classes, but I found a channel on YouTube called Yoga with Adriene and started doing some yoga at home. That was in January. Except for a three week break recently, I’ve done yoga nearly every day since then. She’s very mellow and her mantra is to “find what feels good”. I feel like you might really like her.

  61. I’m a HUGE advocate for Pure Barre. It has literally changed my life and my body! I noticed changes in my body in 3 weeks!! I’m more toned all over my body.
    Unfortunately, Pure Barre doesn’t offer any cardio, so I would HIGHLY recommend getting your cardio in another way. Personally, I go to the gym and use the elliptical.

  62. The Bar Method. It has revolutionized my entire physique. (I tried Pure Barre and Equinox but they just did not have the same results as The Bar Method.)

  63. I have two little girls (11 months and 3 years) and it’s simplest/most affordable for me to not go to the gym. I work out pretty much every day. I’m primarily a runner and I love it (but it took maybe a solid year of running to really get into it). I run probably 4-5 times a week and can take the girls in the jogger as needed (added bonus: weight resistance!). On the other days I try to cross train with mostly youtube videos. I love Chris Freytag, Jillian obviously, BeFit workouts, etc. I make sure to do some strength training those days. I also am obsessed with the 7 minute workout app and love that I can squeeze in one of those on even the busiest day. And I do yoga maybe a couple of times a month. I don’t love it but I’m always glad I decided to do it, after the fact. :)

  64. I would advocate that you try yoga again! I have always been a fan of yoga and the idea of yoga, etc. And I have practiced it on and off for about the past 4-5 years. But this last year my life schedule changed and I had time to really focus in on it. It was amazing to see the transformation that it has brought me and although I’m still discovering it’s wonders I’m already a huge advocate for it.

    THE KEY: finding a really good yoga studio where the teachers know not only what they are doing but also how to read your body and can help you adjust positions to your bodies needs. Also, listen to your body and you’ll actually advance faster!

  65. My best friend is a certified strength and conditioning coach, has her Masters degree in Strength and Conditioning, and is the strength coach (trainers at a gym can just take a test online to be “certified”! thats it! not even close to being the same thing) for the local Division 1 college female athletics groups. So she makes my workout plans! It’s about 3-5 days of lifting with lots of intelligence and plans that I don’t understand behind it. I also do about 4-6 days of cardio a week (stair master, running, biking, a zumba class, etc.) then take my dog on walks almost daily.

  66. As a yoga practitioner who started out just like you – not wanting to return after my first class – I say RETURN! My advice is to try different teachers until you find one that you connect with. All I know is that now, yoga is the opposite of self-competition for me, and I don’t know what I would do without it – physically or spiritually!

  67. I love yoga (especially now that I’m pregnant) for the meditative, restorative, and strength-building components of it. But sometimes I need to get up and MOVE. Honestly, my favorite workout I’ve ever found is at Jazzercise, no joke. I have tried so many exercise options on my limited budget, and Jazzercise is the only workout I really feel excited about. The community of women is wonderful (they’re all so supportive and sweet as I’m trying to maintain my exercise routine at 7-months pregnant), the class is fun and up-beat, I sweat tons, and I really love getting to dance around without any worries of how silly I may look. It’s a very modifiable exercise; I am able to go to the same classes now being super preggo as I did before my pregnancy. The class has the option for low-impact & high-impact, so it’s great for any body. I can’t recommend Jazzercise enough. I’m 25, and I’m not even the youngest in my class ;-) All sorts of women from all walks of life are in my class! And it’s so affordable, especially considering how much use I actually get out of my membership (as opposed to my gym membership which sat largely unused).

    Whatever you try in your search for the right exercise routine, I wish you the best! :)

  68. Joanna, I began Crossfit at the age of thirty, and now 2 years and one baby later I still love it! Crossfit is a wonderful community of people and the workouts are great to regain post baby abdominal muscles. Now, a majority of my “mom” friends are from the gym!

  69. I love barre, I got certified and now teach it as well! I also became a coach with beachbody and enjoy the piyo and 21 day fix workouts as well as Brazilian butt lift- so nice to be able to do it from home!

  70. Try She has a beginners workout calendar and releases a new calendar every month. I have been doing her workouts the past few weeks and am noticing changes and results already! They aren’t too long and don’t require any equipment. I’m a mom of two under the age of two and it has been a great option for me!

  71. Soul Cycle is great but the cost is a bit insane. That and I am a Fly Wheel junkie.

    And if you want to laugh while getting some good cardio, try Zumba.

    I also love Barre classes for toning and strength.

  72. I used to do zumba, years ago, and cycled everywhere. Zumba really depends on the instructor though.
    I do spininng and skipping right now, 4 times a week, and I feel super lucky because there is a gym at my workplace and all sort of classes are available. They spice up spinning with circuits as well, which I truly hate but it is effective and doable for 15 minutes (the rest is spinning). But my favourite is definitely skipping, 30 minutes, but you feel like you worked out at least one and a half hours. We’re doing it to music, and there are different steps, I just love it.
    From time to time I do a class with weights, if I wouldn’t hate it that much, I think I would do it all the time, cause weights training is the most effective.

  73. I just can’t recommend going back to yoga enough. You want toning and flexibility? That is 100% the right route. Because you will be amazed how your flexibility and energy changes, even if you’re just taking a class or two per week.

    I’m also a huge lover of Barre classes (I’m in Los Angeles, and my favorite here is “Cardio Barre”). Combining both gave me exactly the results I wanted — and taking a break from both like I have over the last 2 months, I’ve noticed even more what they did for me. Good luck!

  74. I have been doing Pilates with a private instructor for nearly the last 12 years. I was a runner before having kids and took a hiatus from it for 7 years due to injury, but just started running again, very short distances, but I am so happy to be lacing my running shoes ups again!

  75. You have to try the Refine Method. Real exercise and the place is not scary. I’ve been going for three years and am totally devoted! I personally found Soul Cycle to be one of the most stressful experiences of my life.

  76. I teach Bar Method, so I’m of course a huge fan. It’s strongly technique-based (lovely for you with your ballet background) and is wonderful for strengthening, toning, and increasing flexibility. The biggest plus is it shapes you to look incredibly svelte and fit without that “she must go to the gym” all the time look. Check out the studio in SoHo!

  77. I lift heavy weights. I like to feel strong. I love having muscle definition.… you won’t bulk up. My cardio consists of workout videos like Insanity or sometimes I go outside for a jog or a hike. I’m 37 years old. My behind looks soo much better now that I do barbell squats. Keeps me motivated!

  78. Pure Barre all the way! It’s a really efficient workout and the 55 minutes flies by. Just try it :)

  79. Running, man! In the past few years I’ve gone from can’t-run-a-mile to a marathon. Nothing makes me feel more accomplished and healthy than a good hard run.

  80. I’ve been doing CrossFit for a year and love it. As a non-athlete and weakling I never thought it would be for me, but I adore it now. As a 20-something I am constantly inspired by the 40-something moms and the 60-something grandparents who are in there kicking ass every day!

    Especially as someone who is pressed for time, CF is really great because I get so much out of an hour there than the same hour I used to spend doing yoga.

    My favourite moment was when one of the members’ husband and kiddies came to meet her after her workout. Her 6-year-old daughter proclaimed that when she grew up she “wants to be as strong as my mommy!” My heart burst!

    Like any kind of fitness thing, the right teacher/coach makes all the difference.

    I hope you find something you like! Good luck, Joanna!

  81. I swim laps at my community center (44, to be exact)! 1 kilometer. It takes me about 35 minutes. If I could live the rest of my life in or under water, I would! :)

  82. Pure Barre and Pilates are my favorite. Seeing as you took ballet when you were younger, i think you would really like barre. Honestly, just give it 5 classes (with in two weeks) and you will feel and see a difference. It’s shockingly effective.

  83. Weights! I go to the gym four times a week: 30 minutes of cardio and as much weight lifting as I want that day. So many women think it’ll make them bulky but it won’t, especially if you get lots of good protein to help build and slim your muscles out. I used to only do cardio, but once I started doing strength exercises, I literally felt like I could do anything; I felt so strong and fit!

  84. City life keeps me really active on a daily basis (lots of walking each day, the stairs to my 4th floor walk up, etc) and I do yoga on the weekends. A friend of mine swears by SoulCycle—maybe give it a go!

  85. I think you would love Pure Barre. coming from an athlete that likes a good sweat and wants things to be difficult, i was super impressed by even a 10 min routine of it. you can do it at home! or if you need to get out they are popping up all over. give it a go!

  86. I started running two years ago and I don’t love it, but I like it. I sign up for races to ensure I keep up with training. For my cross training I’ve started taking Barre classes. I love them! I like Physique 57 when I lived in NYC, but now I go to Xtend Barre and I think there’s one in Brooklyn Heights. Give it a try!

  87. Tae Bo? I was hooked on that. And yes, it was awesome!! Now that I’m right at 40, I’ve been taking Barre classes and loooove them. I loved dancing in high school so it’s just the right amount of cardio and ballet mixed in. It keeps things toned, flexible and makes me feel good. Have fun! :)

  88. I fell hard for both FlyWheel and Pure Barre last year, but my bank account most certainly did not. The classes are engaging, super challenging, and absolutely made a difference in my physique. BUT. I can no longer justify the expense now (pre-wedding was justification for pretty much everything). Now I have a fitbit, so I walk or run most days, and I’m doing the Insanity DVDs also.

  89. I really recommend quick workouts every day! I’ve been following Zuzka Light for at least the last 5 years and she and her workouts are just amazing! They give such an energy boost! I actually just finished her latest 5 min chair workout and now I feel full of energy again :) she also has nice yoga series that don’t focus too much on the slow yoga, but more like heart beating yoga. Anyways no matter what you do or like I feel being able to exercise is a gift that should not be wasted – try different things until you find what fits your lifestyle and mood. This fall I’m going to try ballet and I’m thrilled!

  90. bikram yoga. it’s intense, but i started doing it because my 43-year-old former professor and boss, who is one of my best friends and has fibromyalgia, has a better body than i do at 26 (and i’m by no means out of shape!). the heat makes you much more flexible than you think you are, which is motivating to work harder. i couldn’t touch my toes when i started, and my knees cracked every time i moved (yeah, I’m 26), and now i can put my whole palm on the floor with straight legs and i can’t make my knees make noise even if i try. the key is finding an instructor whose personality you like. i leave feeling like a million bucks (and have a super clear mind) for at least 2 whole days. walking is really my favorite exercise, but i agree that it’s not enough. i also like barre, regular vinyasa yoga, spin classes, etc., too, but bikram is the only thing that feels like a long-term investment in feeling physically young (i.e., not stuffy and creaky!). hope that helps!

  91. I cannot recommend Pilates enough! It’s especially good for women who’ve had children, as it reconnects and strengthens your lower abs and pelvis, which is so important for back strength and limiting injury when doing other exercise. I’ve done it for 6 years and it’s changed my life. You don’t even have to be overly flexible. If you love precise exercise (ballet experience helps!) and want to feel stronger and more graceful in all your other physical activities (with the added benefit of beautiful posture and a strong core) try out Pilates! Oh man, I sound like an infomercial…

  92. I NEVER exercised on purpose and then, two years ago I hopped on the Pilates bandwagon. I love it. Four days a week. I mean, who would have thought. I’m stronger, I sleep better and feel healthier!

  93. Try the Physique 57 classes, I am envious of the studio in NYC! They also have great videos…

  94. I run 8 km every day but maybe it’s a hard exercise ( I’ve been running for 18 years) . But if I would choose another way to keep me fit I will choose pilates, and It will be very nice for your back

  95. I have had a lot of back problems from working a desk job 10 hours a day, and Bar Method has helped me a lot. There is a constant focus in class on posture, and many of the exercises specifically target those muscles. Having done ballet as a kid, I also appreciate that it makes me feel like a dancer again! I usually go 3-4 times a week, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt healthier or stronger in my life! I also appreciate going in to class (vs doing a video in my living room) since the instructors push you to work harder that you think you can. I haven’t tried any other Barre studio workouts, but I highly recommend the format.

  96. If there is a Les Mills studio nearby, they offer a great class called Body Flow that is a combination of yoga, pilates, and tai chi. Very relaxing, but a good workout for stretching, strength work, and flexibility.

  97. Hire a personal trainer for a couple of months! They will show you the right way to train and then you can keep doing what you learn on your own (there are also great apps with routines you can do at home once you’re comfortable from the trainer), AND s/he could help you stretch and limber up before trying a full yoga class again.

  98. I highly suggest pilates reformer. If you are looking for an activity that tones and helps with overall carrying of your body I would highly suggest it.

    I actually started pilates reformer to combat my stiff neck and cramped legs from SoulCycle.

    I find that is the perfect activity that focuses on toning and elongating your body without a lot of added pressure.

    A huge plus, you don’t need to be flexible! when you do pilates on the reformer the machine helps give a deeper stretch you don’t get when doing mat pilates and relying soley on your own flexibility.

    I have also found my wrists don’t hurt!

    After doing pilates one a week for a month I felt like I held myself better and ached significantly less.

  99. FlyWheel is fantastic! It’s similar to SoulCycle but tends to feel more athletic – the bikes are equipped with small computers that allow you to know exactly what your speed and resistance are, and there are mini races throughout the class, which I like because the competition keeps me motivated. You can also track everything on their phone app, which can be really nice if we want to see your progress. Another huge benefit of the class is that in an average session, you can burn about 700-800 calories…not too shabby :)

  100. I love to exercise – have been doing some form of it since I was 13. Right now I’m into running and push-ups (thanks to that video that you posted in April, actually)
    Exercise is great for me because with three kids and a business, it’s fantastic alone time. I have some of my greatest thinking time when I’m running. You really can’t beat the endorphins of a good sweat.
    One huge bonus though is that my kids see that I’m dedicated to wellness and hopefully they’ll follow my lead.
    My son (recently turned 4) has lately been asking a lot about what happens after people die. It’s been mixed with questions about how long me and my husband will live. He now tells me confidently that I’m going to live to be “100, or maybe 99” because I’m a strong mama.
    And so, I keep on exercising.

  101. I’m in the same boat as you. My body is a bit…saggy after having 2 babies. I hate running. HATE IT. But, it’s free & I can do it when I have time (read: after babies are asleep). SO, I bit the bullet and started running via an app for the iPhone called C25K (Couch to 5K)! I only do it twice a week because 3x a week? Who has time for that? Not this mama. Anyway, I’m on Week 6 and I can run/walk a 11 1/2 min mile! That’s pretty amazing for me. Also- I feel great and my legs are starting to look pretty hot (so says the husband…). Hope this helps! :)
    PS-I’m on team Ben, too. Felicity forever.

  102. You HAVE to try Ballet Beautiful! Especially because you are always posting ballet-type things. It’s super convenient and has actually TRANSFORMED my body. I have, like, real muscles now. Also, you’re crazy, TEAM NOEL!

  103. I have been practicing yoga for 8 years, since I was 16 and I absolutely love it. Not only is it a great workout, but it also is great for anxiety, focus, etc. and just your mental state in general. I have so many friends who say they are too inflexible for yoga, but a previous yoga teacher of mine just posted a great quote that I have been repeating to nay-sayers for the past two weeks: “saying you’re too inflexible for yoga is like saying you’re too dirty to take a shower.”

    So, I would give it a try! In Boston at least there are tons of yoga studios that offer affordable 2 week trial periods, so you could try out a few studios and see which styles/teachers you like the best! I practice vinyasa and hot vinyasa mostly, but really the only type of yoga I am against is bikram as it requires you to do the exact same sequence in every practice.

    Good luck :)

  104. Haha! I love the “on purpose”. In California that would be a silly question, but coming from a New Yorker, I can understand it. I’m a member at Yogaworks and they have a lot more than just yoga: barre, pilates, sculpting classes. Still, I highly recommend yoga. You go to get flexible, not because you already are. I’ve been going for almost a yesr now and the difference it’s made on my posture and core strength is night and day. Seriously, give it another try.

  105. You must, MUST try Fitness Blender. You can switch up workouts to trick your muscles, tailor it by time, level of difficulty, type of exercise, part of body you want to target, and it’s all FREE

  106. My gateway workout was the barre classes that everyone else has really talked about. It’s not as static as yoga, and does require some flexibility, but has tons of modifications.

    From there, I’ve moved on to more strength training stuff. I’m a HUGE fan of bodypump classes. Lifting weights can be intimidating but it’s the surest way to get toned (and no you won’t get bulky!), lose weight, and feel really strong and empowered. I would recommend picking up a book called “The New Rules of Lifting for Women” if you want a really great introduction into why lifting weights is great!!

  107. I’m 35 too. I’ve run on and off for years and that is my favorite cardio. As far as strength training goes, I’ve tried it all and Barre has the best results. But it’s no joke:)

  108. I recently too felt achy and cranky from not actively working out. By the way I hate to work out too so I avoid it when I can. But I heard about this app called Couch-to-5K (it’s only $1.99) and it basically has you walk/jog/run 3 times a week with timed 30 min intervals. You do this program for 9 weeks and you should be able to run a 5k, which I have always wanted to. I am currently on week 5 and am now able to run 16 mins straight through. When I first started I could only run for a minute and a half. Its so fun and you feel guilty if you skip. I suggest trying it because it is only a 30 min commitment for 3 times a week.

  109. I don’t know where in Brooklyn you live, but I highly recommend the Adult Ballet classes at Cobble Hill Ballet. I’ve also heard that the classes at Mark Morris are great.

    I did a lot of ballet in my childhood and teen years. Later on in life I practiced yoga intensely. I’m now in my 40’s, and find both yoga and a return to ballet immensely satisfying and effective.