Move over, men—today’s for the babes.
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Acupuncture is known as an integrative type of medicine. This means it is safely and routinely used alongside medications, surgeries, physical therapy, and any other medicinal modality you have chosen. As an added bonus, it’s usually covered by most insurance plans and is available as a mainstream source of anxiety reduction, pain relief, and preventative care.
Basically, acupuncture is the use of incredibly fine needles to stimulate areas in the body where either tight muscles are encouraged to melt into relaxation, or nerves can send a message to the brain to create a specific chemical response in the body- like anti-inflammatory, digestive ease, or sleep induction.
With frequent and regular repetition, this can heal injuries, decrease pain levels and general inflammation, and it can slowly reset sleep and digestive cycles, encourage a stronger immune system and benefit individual organ health. Over time, the body learns how to do this for itself and the benefits ripple out into a faster healing response for future injuries and ailments, and generally better health. It’s like a child learning the alphabet, slowly forming words, and then writing a book.
There are thousands of points on the body, each one with its own effects, and the effects it has when combined with another point.
Most of the acupuncture points are organized in anatomical lines known as channels or meridians. These lines run adjacent to blood vessels, large nerves, or fascial lines. Fascia is the stuff that wraps the muscles up and joins them all together and it is highly sensitive at “trigger points” on the body, which are very useful acupuncture points. These lines run head to toe, with a few exceptions, and are named after the organ that they ultimately connect to in the end.
One example of a trigger or acupuncture point is the area you always squeeze when your shoulders get tight after a long day. Squeezing this point can be very tender, but it feels good because it triggers the muscle to relax, which an acupuncture needle can do very quickly. This point is Gallbladder-21, named because it is the 21st point on the line that eventually connects to the gallbladder.
Many teachers have gathered lists of ways to combine various points into protocols to reap the loudest, fastest effect. Often when you have an injury, a practitioner will choose a protocol that leaves the aggravated site alone and actually uses effective points elsewhere on the body to treat the injury. The philosophy here is “don’t poke an angry bear.” If your ankle is swollen, puffy and sprained, then your practitioner won't stick a needle in it because that would make it hurt more. Instead, he or she would choose points on the opposite limb, ear, and hand. This has a lot to do with how the points are connected and how the brain works. This technique is especially useful with things like nerve pain (neuropathy) in the hands and feet that can make the slightest sensation unbearable.
When you visit an acupuncturist, they will set you up with a treatment plan. The frequency of your visits will depend on your complaint, pain level, general health, whether your practitioner is also recommending supplements or movement therapies, and their experience with the protocol they intend to use. Every visit will look somewhat similar until the effects cumulate and you start seeing results, at which point your practitioner will tell you to begin spacing sessions out more. If you are in high pain they will start you at 3-4 sessions per week, when your pain goes down they might have you come in 1-2 times a week until the injury is resolved.
So, there it is. Set up a session and experience it for yourself. And remember, whatever benefits you see in the first visit will be amplified down the line - pun intended!
That’s something I never expected to hear. Think about it: we join gyms and studios because of their equipment, instructors, space, community (and AC, of course). But who’s to say we can’t get all that—or at least most of it—with virtual and online classes, too? In this new wave of wellness, we’re all switching up our fitness routines as we switch up our everyday schedules and habits. It’s not just in-studio or at-home anymore. It’s in-studio, at-home, at the park, beach, parking lot, rooftop...virtual, hybrid, Instagram Live, online, on-demand, and so much more. As we’re adapting, adjusting, finding our groove, etc., online gym memberships enter the fray. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
There are tons of benefits to an online gym membership, especially right now.
Let’s break this down:
1. Scheduling convenience
A virtual/online gym fitness membership is a monthly subscription that gives you access to tons of live stream fitness classes you can take anywhere, from studios across the globe. These fitness studios offer tons of at-home workouts, group exercise, and one-on-one training sessions to choose from, no matter your exercise program or fitness level. With so many options, it’s easy to find one that fits your schedule. Whether you want to fit in a morning flow before work, combat that afternoon slump with some cardio, squeeze in some strength training before dinner, or wind down with an evening barre class, you can pick and choose classes to fit your fitness routine.
2. Minimizing exposure to COVID-19
And because they’re online, you can take these classes from the comfort of your home (or wherever you are), thus minimizing your exposure to COVID-19 and eliminating your commute to the gym or studio. By now, many of us have our designated “workout spot,” whether it’s an actual weight room, a quick scooch of the coffee table, or a grassy area in the backyard. Maybe you’re comfortable here... maybe you’ve even learned to love it.
With an online gym membership, you can stay in your safe space/comfy workout spot. Or, you can go somewhere new (local park, beach spot, a different area of the house, you know). You can access these virtual, live stream fitness classes from any device, so you can prop up your phone, laptop, or tablet wherever you want to go, or roll out your mat in front of the big screen TV in your living room.
We all have our favorite, go-to workouts. But sometimes, it feels good to switch it up (especially right now). Working from home all day, many of us are craving some variety and excitement, and an online gym membership can definitely help with that. According to our recent poll about COVID’s effect on our fitness routines, 64% of you have tried new online workouts since the start of the pandemic—I know I have. Maybe it’s because trying new things is easier in the comfort of our homes, maybe we’re finally able to try some classes we normally can’t find locally, or maybe we’re all just bored out of our minds...I don’t know. But I’m excited about it.
With an online gym membership, you can get that spice you’re looking for easily. Start out your Monday by hitting some HIIT, ease your sore muscles with some Restorative Yoga, and end the week with some dance cardio to pretend you’re at the club. The world is yours.
4. Working out without a commute
My favorite part? No commute. There are literally no more excuses when it comes to skipping workouts. No traffic, no schedule conflicts, no fear of returning to the studio. You don’t even have to worry about packing a gym bag with a change of clothes and shower supplies or prepping a snack or protein shake to bring to work. Just shut your computer, throw on some leggings, and get to work.
Community—the element of online fitness memberships we don’t often think of. When we go into studios, we understand the beauty of a fitness community. We’re greeted by our instructors, we chat with others in the class, and we all sweat together and encourage each other throughout. But working out at home is different... or is it?
We can do workouts on our own at home all we want, but we’re definitely going to miss out on the community aspect we all know and love. But, with live stream classes, we can create a different kind of community. The beauty of it? It’s not just your neighbors anymore. Anyone with an online fitness membership can join these classes, regardless of where they’re located in relation to the studio, so you can be working out alongside people from all over the world—now that’s something I can get behind.