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If you want your body to change through exercise, it needs to be challenging in some way. But, challenge and comfort don’t necessarily sit at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Often when coaching clients, I‘ll ask them to get to a pace where they’re feeling comfortably challenged.  This is a good place to be, because you can keep up a comfortably challenged pace for longer periods of time. And, it’s important to have a certain level of comfort if you’re going to keep doing it!

A large part of feeling comfortable with exercise

involves how you perform the exercise, and how the movement feels in your body. I talk about this often here on the blog. Feeling good with movement starts with using the right techniques (a.k.a.form) and being connected to your body during your workout.

Like playing a sport, having good technique is crucial for success with any physical activity. Good form maximizes your opportunity for results and minimizes your exposure to injury. It’ll help you use the right muscles in the right way, and allow your movement to feel more fluid and natural. Of course, having an expert show you the ropes is a great way to start, and I share a lot about good exercise form in my exercise videos.

Quality movement is number one on my list

for feeling comfortable with exercise, but there are other details that can make your workouts more enjoyable, even when you’re pushing your body to the limit. Here’s what I do to keep exercise comfortable while I challenge myself.

Music

Energetic music can boost your mood, or offer a pleasant distraction. Fast music can make you move faster. A strong beat or strong lyrics can bring out a sense of power and strength. And if you’re not feeling motivated to exercise, a good beat before you exercise can get your adrenaline flowing so you’re pumped to get started.

When I play my favorite dance music while running, my interval speeds get much faster.

Type of Exercise

Our bodies are naturally inclined towards a certain type of sport or exercise. Olympic athletes choose their sport based on genetics and body type because that’s where they have an edge, and you can do the same. Try different activities until you find the one that feels best to your body.
My body loves lifting weights. My muscles are mostly made up of fast-twitch muscle fibers (strength and power) and I feel the best during and after a strength workout. My muscles also respond well to strength-based exercise.

It’s okay if you don’t like a particular type of exercise, don’t force it. But you’ll want to make sure you’re getting strength, cardio and flexibility exercise every week. For example, I still run and bike for cardiovascular health, even though I’m not naturally good at it. And I run or bike at least once per week with someone who pushes me, so I can keep improving and not fall backwards. (We all have things that we do better with a partner!)

Clothes

It’s not superficial – if you feel good in your workout clothes, you’ll be more comfortable while you exercise. And if you like the way your clothes make you look and feel, you’ll want to wear them. That, in itself, is a motivator to exercise!

I like cotton tees because they’re breathable. Some shirts claim to “wick away the sweat”, and while they dry quickly, the bacteria stays concentrated in the shirt and makes it smell. I don’t like to smell funky when I exercise, so I stay away from those!

It’s important to wear breathable bottoms, because they can also harbor bacteria. If your pant’s aren’t mostly made of cotton or have a cotton crotch, ladies, put an underwear layer in between you and them. If you don’t want panty lines ladies, a cotton thong works. And we all (men and women) need to get out of wet bottoms immediately after exercise because certain bacteria love to grow in dark, damp places. If you can’t take a shower right after a workout, changing the pants or at least the underwear, is a must.

Regardless of your gender, you’ve got to have clothes that aren’t too tight, or too loose, so they stay in place when you’re moving.  And you don’t want them to cut off your circulation – or cause unnecessary discomfort. These days, I’m wearing underwear from Arie. They aren’t 100% cotton but they have a cotton liner which is the best I can find these days. They also fit well, and last through many washes. 

For guys, I hear these boxer briefs from Tommy John have a great, comfortable fit! Check out the fun and funny infographic below!

I’m not getting paid for either of these underwear mentions.

How do you stay comfortably challenged during workouts?

Let me know in the comments below. As always, I’m here to support you in your fitness and health.

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