Moving Mindfully: My Favorite Fitness Programs
Physical movement has always been a key piece to my mental health and has brought me much joy over the years. It’s something I’ve turned to throughout every stage of my life, especially when moving through periods of deep loss, grief, and life transitions. It’s been essential to my overall wellness and my ability to ride the waves of life’s stressors and uncertainties. The endorphins released through exercise are a natural mood booster, and the strength you feel in your physical body is an important connector to the strength you possess within your mental/emotional being as well. After a workout, no matter how gentle or intense, I always feel a greater sense of balance and peace that carries me through the day.
I have a background in dance and followed that passion for about 20 years. At one time I even considered pursuing choreography. I can barely listen to music without having to move! No matter what challenges life has brought, I’ve always been able to come back to my authentic self through moving mindfully. Different phases of life have inspired me towards different types of movement as well. You may find yourself in a phase of wanting to push yourself physically, and then times when you desire more gentleness on your joints and nervous system. By listening to your body and energy level, you’ll know what feels in alignment.
I’ve experienced many different workout programs since my mid-twenties and I thought it would be fun to share several of my favorites with you. I’m not affiliated with any of these programs and I’m not a fitness expert. These are just styles of training that I’ve practiced over the past decade and felt passionate about sharing. I find it creative and energizing to switch up exercise routines occasionally or add variety so that boredom doesn’t set in. It’s important to find a workout style that you look forward to because that is the easiest way to maintain consistency and a healthy balance. I typically aim to move 5-6 days/week for at least 30-60 min and tune in when my body tells me to rest. It’s important to be kind to ourselves when it comes to exercise and listen when our bodies need down time to avoid injury and burnout. All of these programs I’m sharing can be done from home, which I love for the flexibility.
One program that I’ve really enjoyed is by fitness instructor Tracy Campoli, called Total Body Transformation. Lately she’s geared her program towards women 40+ and offers a lot of variety. She has a monthly workout calendar, so you don’t have to think about which workouts to do – it’s all planned out. It’s also wonderful for women who are short on time because her structure is built around 30 min/day. She creates full-body workouts with an emphasis on different areas throughout the week. They’re ideal for every fitness level, yet also challenging. I love her upbeat energy and charisma while thoroughly explaining each movement as she guides you. I especially love her arm exercises – you can check out her awesome arm videos on YouTube. Tracy has a dance and pilates background, and focuses on toning, strengthening, and low-impact workouts. If you like follow-along workout videos like I do, her approach is very straightforward and simple to follow. She includes bodyweight resistance training, low-impact cardio, pilates, dance movement, and HIIT workouts. Her goal is to help women feel energetic, healthy, and fit while keeping a balance around fitness, enjoying life and yummy foods. She’s also great at explaining form and modifications. If you like variety and are looking for something time-friendly and easy to follow, I really like her format.
Another program I’ve loved over the years is the Tracy Anderson Method. She has a dance background and her movement sequences are quite unique with brand new choreography each week. There is a lot of mat work (floor work) involved, so it’s important to have a well-cushioned mat for her workouts. If you have any knee issues this is likely not the best program for you. Her mat work reminds me of a combination of pilates, bodyweight resistance training, and modern dance movement. She does very high reps and uses light hand and ankle weights. Her program is more of a time commitment. The intermediate and advanced workouts on her monthly streaming run about 50 min, and if you wish to add low or high impact dance cardio that is an additional 20-30 min. My strength and flexibility always improve with her method. I like that her workouts change weekly, so you learn to master one mat sequence for seven days and then move onto new choreography. There is also a helpful trainer breakdown of each move so you can learn the specific angles you’re supposed to be hitting. This is a more intense program in my opinion, and what drew me to it is the dance-based cardio and mat movements that resonate with my former dance training. She also has really fun music, so you have a built-in playlist. If you’re short on time there are 15 min videos which focus on Arms, Legs, Core, and Endurance. An interesting thing about her style is that she doesn’t talk at all during the class. This is because she wants your focus on the connection to your body, the moves, and the music. Instead, she does an “after-class chat” where she shares her thoughts and purpose behind her weekly choreography. This is more of a financial investment than other programs I’ve done and she offers a free two-week trial for new streamers. For a less pricey option, I would recommend her Metamorphosis DVD’s or her Mat Workout DVD, which are great ways to ease into her style and method.
If you’re interested in strength training and building muscle, I really like the Moves by Madeline program. I definitely got stronger doing her workouts and noticed an increase in muscle. She offers step-by-step guided workouts through her Moves App, which includes 6 different programs. I like her tutorial videos so that you can see exactly how each move should be performed. Her workouts range from 30-45 min for beginners and 30-80 min for intermediate and advanced. Her “Weekly Moves” program consists of 5 new workouts each week and is rooted in strength training with the goal of creating a “strong, functional, athletic physique.” You can do her workouts at home or at the gym. You’ll need resistance bands, a few sets of dumbbells, and a step. You can also add your own style of cardio training. She does not have full-length workout videos. Instead, you watch how each move is performed and go down the list of movements with recommended reps. If you like to have music like I do, you’ll want to have your own playlist ready. I think her program is great for all ages and fitness levels, and if you’re interested in working with heavier weights and becoming stronger this is an excellent program to consider. I went into this as a beginner when it came to lifting weights and found it very well laid out and the instruction very informative. She focuses on injury prevention and collaborates with physical therapists to create a well-rounded, safe approach. Her workouts do involve more equipment than other programs I’ve done and you’ll want a variety of hand weights as you progress. This program is also very affordable!
Another program that I really resonate with is Melissa Wood Health. I’ve found her training method to be very gentle and meditative, while also building strength and toning muscle. Her mission is “making mindful movement accessible & attainable for all.” Her approach is very holistic and focuses on the mind as well as the body. Her style involves mat work, with a focus on pilates and yoga. Overall, when doing her workouts I’ve felt very focused, peaceful, and connected to my body. If you’re in a place where you want to be gentle on your nervous system, yet still experience a good challenge, I definitely recommend trying this program. I love how she incorporates meditation as well. Her workout platform has a suggested weekly workout schedule. There is also a library of workouts for you to choose from and a new workout posted every Monday. She focuses on the importance of moving every day, even if it’s just 15 minutes. Her videos typically range from 15-30 min in length and you can piece them together depending on your energy level. So you can easily do 15 min or all the way up to 60 min if you choose. There are also “quickie” videos that range from 8-15 min. She has a nice variety of full body routines and videos that focus on specific muscles and body parts. I like how her workouts include very little or no equipment. At the end of her workouts I think it’s enjoyable to do one of her short meditation videos to ease you into the day. Her energy is very soothing and refreshing, and her program is one of the most affordable I’ve seen.
The fitness program I’m currently enjoying is called Femme Nativa (feminine energy) created by Rachael Attard. I’m in a place where I’ve been desiring more low-impact cardio while also getting outdoors, and this program has been meeting both of those needs. Her program is “about where we focus our energy – not only through workouts, but in all areas of health and wellbeing – going beyond just diet and exercise.” Her approach involves a mix of bodyweight resistance training and low-impact cardio (primarily walking). The resistance training is 3-4 days a week for 30 minutes, with suggested amounts of daily cardio. I’ve always enjoyed walking, and this program has motivated me to walk more and appreciate time in nature. If you prefer running instead, she encourages you to do what feels best for your body. She has several different 8-week programs, all of which are full body, yet also focus on certain areas, such as legs, glutes, and abs. I like how she helps you discover whether you’re an ectomorph, mesomorph, or endomorph, and structures her programs around your specific body type. I enjoy the pace of her guidance and each workout is a challenge while being appropriate for all fitness levels. I find her programs to be quite affordable as well, and once you purchase a program you get lifetime access to the videos as well as her fitness community.
All of the programs I’ve mentioned offer some form of nutrition plan or guide in addition to the workouts. I hope you’ve enjoyed my program round-up and perhaps feel some inspiration to get moving in a way that feels best for you! If you’re not into programs but still want to get moving, simply walking is an amazing way to stay fit and strong. It’s one of the most straightforward exercises you can do that is good for your body and mind, and you don’t have to be attached to a specific program. I love to put on some good music or a podcast while walking, and lately l’ve partnered up with a friend to take walks around the neighborhood. Movement can be amazing medicine, support our healing, and be a much needed boost for our mental health. It’s a wonderful way to stay in tune with yourself and help sustain your long-term wellness, body and soul. Wishing you joy, healing, and self-connection in the movement you love!