Staying Fit

Discussion of preventative and ongoing maintenance for Professional Bodyworkers.

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Staying Fit

Postby hlngplm on Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:05 pm

Massage therapist working 6 days a week, 3-5 hours per day needs advice please. I have been doing this for over 1 month and I am getting somewhat use to it by now however I am still sore most days, not terribly all the time now....and also am finding my muscles giving out at the end of a day, usually during my last massage.

I sure could use any and all advice as to food, exercise, workouts, stretching, anything that could help me. You know us MT's, good on giving advice to clients...horrible at diagnosing ourselves and helping ourselves. I have done all the normal things....I just must be missing something. Or need encouragement! I hurt alot! Done the cold water, ibuprofen when necessary (I also have arthritis in hands), I have been neglecting water and stretching as much. I do alot and I mean alot of trigger point work. Any advice...any and all would be SO APPRECIATED!!

Pleae don't tell me not to work 6 days, it'snot an option right now due to the economy and my familys financial crisis. This is not long term, but I do need some help so that I can get through this without injury.

Thank you to all who take the time to respond, I really do appreciate it! :( :cry:
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby Jonathan on Tue Nov 03, 2009 7:25 am

Can you use hand held trigger point tools, at least part time? (I know it's not the same feedback though an inanimate object, but palpation assessment in proximity with the other hand/fingers works reasonably well).
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby JasonE on Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:42 pm

The best thing I can recommend to any therapist. I use it myself for daily maintenance, and it works incredibly well. Daily practice and you'll feel a real difference within a week. Within 3 weeks you'll wonder what you ever did without it.

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Re: Staying Fit

Postby kathryn on Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:43 am

Along with what else has been written, since you are only at work about five or six hours a day, how about some good ole' regular activities. Things that build up endurance, like bike riding on hills and hiking on hills or in the mountains (with a pack if you will even). Swimming is a good one, if you have places to swim. Choose a couple different activities to do so you are getting movement, yet building strength at the same time. Depending on whether you are a morning person or afternoon, you can set your schedule accordingly to either get up earlier and perform a workout activity before work, or do it after work.

Maybe you can find a trainer or movement therapist to trade with until you are able to comfortably do the things at home with a home gym, which can cost almost nothing. Yoga is also good, but again I think activities where you are out in the fresh air and working those limbs, lungs and moving against force is the best for endurance. Eccentric workouts are the best for building muscle strength, in particular workouts using a theraband are really great. James Waslaski has a self care book on his site where you can do those at home. And, although you have to be careful with home exercise stuff b/c it's so easy to be moving incorrectly and create more pain (only b/c I see it in my practice) the Waslaski manual is really easy to follow.

Pain can also be caused if you have too much inflammation in the body. If you aren't eating well already, slowly introduce more vegetables and fruits and whole grains in your system. Eating a really good breakfast really helps keep you going, if you aren't a breakfast person, try slowly working it into your schedule. Your body wants breakfast, you've just gotten used to not having it! (not that that specific point applies to you, I'm just adding it in!) All vegetables should be slightly steamed for nutrition content, raw foods are touted, but many veggies nutrients won't even come out without some light steaming. Also vitamin deficiencies will create muscular pains and aches. Things like protein and vit.C aren't stored in the body so make sure you are getting those every day! It's easy to go overboard on both and too much protein will stress out your kidneys as it clears it out of the body and same with C. If you can afford a little splurge, you may want to make an appointment with a nutritionist just to go over your regular diet to help make changes. It's amazing how food can help and harm the body--food really IS medicine!!

If seeing a nutritionist is out of way for you at this time, you might really enjoy getting the book, Healthful Foods by Jethro Kloss. Not sure if you've ever heard of the book, Back to Eden, was written in the late 1930's or 40's by Jethro Kloss whose family was one of if not the first European family to introduce soy milk into the states. That book in particular really helped me in my travels in health prevention and also remedies that were amazing when I or friends needed them. However, some of the info is dated and doesn't match new research the Healthful Foods book is an updated version written by his son who makes the necessary changes that are up to date about foods and how to improve your eating.
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby Sandyolmt on Sun Nov 15, 2009 5:37 am

Best way to maintain yourself as a massage therapist for years to come is to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Eat more whole foods and less processed. Get in some cardio when you can, and for the muscle stiffness and pain- Yoga and massage. Simple-yes :D .
p.s.- don't need any fancy workout programs like the one above- sorry. Get your shoes on and go for a walk. That's free! :D
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby JasonE on Sun Nov 15, 2009 11:06 pm

Sandyolmt wrote:Best way to maintain yourself as a massage therapist for years to come is to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Eat more whole foods and less processed. Get in some cardio when you can, and for the muscle stiffness and pain- Yoga and massage. Simple-yes :D .
p.s.- don't need any fancy workout programs like the one above- sorry. Get your shoes on and go for a walk. That's free! :D


Walking is inadequate preparation for a lengthy career in bodywork. Free, yes... but you get about what you paid for it - next to nothing.

A comprehensive approach to whole-body fitness is a sensible and far more time-efficient approach.
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby Sandyolmt on Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:56 am

Sorry -disagree with you Jason. I am in great shape and have gotten rid of every problem associated with overworking and damaging my body while doing massage. I used to lay in bed with ice packs on my arms and back because of pain from working.

Adopting a healthier lifestyle of healthier food choices, regular cardio exercise & yoga. Also getting regular massage and yoga classes. Yes it is simple, but requires commitment and effort. No need for special programs. I am proof that taking care of yourself does not require spending money on workout programs, dieting or joining gyms.

Your comment is about walking being inadequate is totally ridiculous and makes me question you completely.
By the way- I have a killer body and look WAY more fit and younger than most women my age. I have more stamina, strength and ability to run my business like never before. Many of the members here have seen my transformation. Didn't spend a dime. :D
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby lovelynb on Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:04 am

I have to agree with Sandyolmt. I used to have quite a bit of problems with my hands and wrists. Since I started doing yoga on a regular basis and eating healthier those problems have gone away. Being generally health will definitely help you maintain the physical fitness needed to have a long massage career.
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby Sandyolmt on Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:57 am

Walking is inadequate preparation for a lengthy career in bodywork. Free, yes... but you get about what you paid for it - next to nothing.



This comment is absolutely incorrect, and offends me. :(

I got my life back- Nothing you say??????? Maybe my life means nothing to you, but it means the world to me.

I have become a better massage therapist, I am rarely sick, I am extremely strong and have never felt better in my life. I have also gotten many of my clients to take their health more seriously too. Many of my clients have seen the changes and transformation in my life and the energy I exude.

Walking, bike riding, rollerblading, hiking, swimming. Whatever works for you. The bottom line is your body needs cardio exercise in any form. It will transform your body and your life. :D
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby pueppi on Mon Nov 16, 2009 2:43 pm

Sandyolmt wrote:
Walking is inadequate preparation for a lengthy career in bodywork. Free, yes... but you get about what you paid for it - next to nothing.



This comment is absolutely incorrect, and offends me. :(


I have to agree with you. There are so many studies that show walking is great for people. Inadequate preparation for a lengthy careeer in bodywork? I don't quite agree with that either. I've been in excellent shape in my life and I've been quite ill as well. I have a fairly strong constitution, which of course helps. But, I don't think one has to do special exercises in order to have a lengthy professional career in massage. Maybe if Jason had said, "I feel like walking does not provide as good of a benefit as the following program" or "I feel walking has limited potential as it does not address the stretching aspect this program provides" we'd be less offended. I think it is the absolute in the sentence that causes the offense. And, the programs comment about "TaiChi without the fluff" just generally annoys me. Tai Chi doesn't have fluff. Any company who even begins to mention something like that is on my "do WHA---T???? "radar.

I worked with a gal who was a bodyworker for 22 years. She was definitely not fit. Do I suggest that? No. But, it didn't keep her from being an amazing bodyworker or cause her to have lack of income.

Do I think being fit is a better route to go? You bet. Anything that will get you to that point, is what one should do. Each person has their strengths, weaknesses and limitations. Why tell people they absolutely cannot get fit by walking? Surely we've all seen someone who has benefited from this inexpensive change in lifestyle. I knew a man who walked the perimeter of his yard, something like 50 times per day. Had a little rut around the edge of it. He was fit as a fiddle.

Much of what we do in bodywork is proper body mechanics... although, even with that, I would say there is enough that I do improperly that some would faint at the sight of.... but I personally have never had a problem with. Strength can be a benefit or a bane. As with many other idiosyncracies of bodywork. It's all how you use it.


So, although I do think that there are certain exercises that are better than others, or may cause faster results than others. I surely am not going to criticize walking! :shocked:

Here are a few articles:


As for the initial poster: You may not be able to get through this without hurting yourself. You need to be mightily aware of that fact. If you've only been doing bodywork for a little over a month and are starting out at six day work weeks, you are putting yourself into jeopardy. It does take time to build up your overall stamina. My suggestion, do what you have to do, but when you get your breaks, take them "for real".

You mentioned that your family is in a financial crisis and you have to do what you have to do. OK. But, make sure that anyone in the family who is slacking during this time, pitches in to help you get through this. That means... they need to be cooking and cleaning whenever possible. They need to give you plenty of opportunity for rest. If they want you to be able to make it at the pace you are going, they will have to help. Rather they like it or not. If you are the bread winner, even more-so. Are you starting to catch my drift?

Purchase yourself a footbath, if you don't have access to one at your work. Soak your hands daily. When possible in epsoms slats.

I had a similar situation back in 2001/2002. I purchased a box of small patches called Salon Pas (you can regularly find these in Asian Food stores). I wrapped my finger joints with them every weekend and during the weeks when needed. They were a life saver.

This too shall pass. We're rooting for you.
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby YFChoice on Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:09 pm

C'mon Jason...really? With my health problems have come solutions that most people in my place would not be able to do...but it's what works for me. I've lived 26 years longer than I was supposed to. I'm 53, most say I look in my 30's and my hiking and snowshoeing buddies (healthy people by the way) can barely keep up. I've been doing massage for 9 years and my HEALTHY lifestyle has helped me maintain a career that I love doing even though I have been given a less than healthy life. Big difference.

Walking at a brisk pace with light weight dumbells...walking up and down some of our neighborhoods here....walking for endurance....how can this definitely aerobic exercise not be beneficial? With you being a personal trainer, I'm kinda surprised that you would say what you did.

I agree with pueppi...the op might need some help from surrounding family to get thru this time. Also, remember, you can't go from running around the block to running a marathon without pain and possibly injury. You have to work up to the workload you are taking.....or you might not be able to work at all.
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby JasonE on Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:23 pm

As a trainer, part of my professional responsibility is to separate fitness facts from fitness myths. One of those myths is the notion that "Walking (by itself) is enough."

Everyone that has chimed in to defend walking as preparation for bodywork... has supported my contention. Not one of you relies solely upon walking, nor do I think any of you would willingly drop all your other self-care/fitness/nutrition/etc. in favor of only walking.

You all use your own version of what I recommend: A comprehensive approach to whole-body fitness.

Walking may be a part of your comprehensive approach, but alone it is not sufficient preparation/maintenance to meet the physical challenges of performing bodywork over the long run. Yoga, weightlifting, tai chi, etc. offer greater whole-body long-term benefits than any walking-only program ever will.
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby Sandyolmt on Tue Nov 17, 2009 5:01 am

Well as a trainer Jason, you should understand that most people won't follow or stay committed to programs. Which is why people are out of shape and unhealthy. Walking is something just about everyone can do and does not require a special program. I still disagree with you. Even if I was just walking I would still be miles away from where I started and be in great shape. My point was you do not need a program to do cardio and yoga. When you are really ready to commit and change your daily habits a program isn't going to do that for you. As a trainer you should be encouraging people to get up and move anyway. I still can not believe a fitness trainer would even utter the words that walking or cardio exercise will do nothing to give you longevity as a massage therapist. I think it would give you longevity in any career. Exercise in any form makes you feel great and allows you to work better in any capacity. It changes your energy and attitude and stamina.
Doing 3 different forms of exercise can be overwhelming to most people who are out of shape. As a fitness trainer you should be at least encouraging people to start somewhere. I didn't start my healthy lifestyle by running, doing yoga and lifting weights. That would have been too much for me. I took one thing at a time and then tried other forms. Maybe Jason, instead of telling people they would get nothing from a walking regimen you should be more sensitive and encourage people in a more positive manner. After your comment I would never buy anything from you and do not trust what you say you know so much about. Kinda disappointed. :(
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby elsewhere on Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:42 am

Doing massage is not an Olympic event. If a person takes overall good care of their health (nutrition and sleep are huge factors here) and does the necessary things to avoid injury (which oddly enough includes not working out too much) chances are they will be just fine doing body work. It's all about balance right? I don't believe an MT needs a "trainer" to achieve this as common sense and knowing yourself and your limitations usually work just fine. In fact due to the actual physical nature of our work I think "working out" and a vigorous routine could often be considered overkill. Having said that I do see it as a possible option for someone that has no background in physical health care at all as a good trainer will have a lot of knowledge and can take a neophyte and help them with a basic understanding of body mechanics and tone. I have no doubt that Jason is very skilled at this. He is very knowledgeable and takes his work seriously. But to propose this as an "absolute" for all bodyworkers is probably well meaning but misguided advice especially for those busy MT's that have little free time as it is.

Here is my experience; I have been very athletic my whole life, (former boxer, football player, basketball player etc.) I always had a gym membership and always did weight training, yoga etc. My whole adult life I have been an MT. What I have found for me is that doing body work IS a workout in and of itself. So I quit the gym 2 years ago, realized I didn't need it. Now all I do is hike in the Hollywood Hills behind my home 3 or 4 times a week. We have great trails there with hills that have names like "The Eliminator" and such. It's really great cardio and I have found that is pretty much all I need to stay in shape. I still do yoga occasionally and ab work but on no real "program," just when I feel like I need it. I don't stress out about it, I tune into what I need on a daily basis to achieve harmony and balance within myself. This is where everyone is different, we all have different needs.

Here's the deal, I have found for me personally that doing body work is like doing yoga. I have attuned my body to treat it as an asana in and of itself. Since I do body work pretty much every day for long periods I think this is a good way to go. In doing that I am getting a graceful workout while I am working on people. It's an act of synchronicity. I have found that not only do I not miss the gym, I am in the best physical shape of my life.

People need to find the right balance within themselves. This means "knowing" yourself and listening to your own needs more than it means taking the advice, however well meaning it's intentions, from anyone else. One size does not fit all. Knowing yourself is vital to a career in body work. If walking is all you need, hey that's great! If you need to do a little more there sure are lots of options and people like Jason are a great resource to achieve specific goals. But never doubt the power of doing body work itself. When approached with the right mindset it can be a beautiful form of working out and for people like me it's pretty much all I need.
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby JasonE on Wed Nov 18, 2009 12:41 am

Sandyolmt wrote:Well as a trainer Jason, you should understand that most people won't follow or stay committed to programs. Which is why people are out of shape and unhealthy. Walking is something just about everyone can do and does not require a special program. I still disagree with you. Even if I was just walking I would still be miles away from where I started and be in great shape. My point was you do not need a program to do cardio and yoga. When you are really ready to commit and change your daily habits a program isn't going to do that for you. As a trainer you should be encouraging people to get up and move anyway. I still can not believe a fitness trainer would even utter the words that walking or cardio exercise will do nothing to give you longevity as a massage therapist. I think it would give you longevity in any career. Exercise in any form makes you feel great and allows you to work better in any capacity. It changes your energy and attitude and stamina.
Doing 3 different forms of exercise can be overwhelming to most people who are out of shape. As a fitness trainer you should be at least encouraging people to start somewhere. I didn't start my healthy lifestyle by running, doing yoga and lifting weights. That would have been too much for me. I took one thing at a time and then tried other forms. Maybe Jason, instead of telling people they would get nothing from a walking regimen you should be more sensitive and encourage people in a more positive manner. After your comment I would never buy anything from you and do not trust what you say you know so much about. Kinda disappointed. :(


Sandy - Wow, You are the first person in years to accuse me of being negative about other people exercising! :shock: You are reading things into my statements that I did not say, and perceiving negativity that I did not project into the words I typed. The only reason I became a trainer, the only reason I have remained a trainer, is that I am passionately committed to improving the health and wellbeing of others. It is my hope that your negative interpretations of my statements arises from not understanding why I wrote them, so I hope the following will somewhat bridge the gap of understanding between us.

First off, you and I agree on something: Can people be healthy and successfully fit without a trainer, a structured program, a gym? Absolutely! I encourage all of my clients to move towards that self-sufficiency. If all goes well, they won't ever need my services again. My goal as a trainer is for my clients to not need a trainer. But many people do need help.

Trainers know better than anyone how difficult it is for people to stay committed to a program. We hear all the reasons, week in and week out. That's why personal trainers exist - our job is to support the journey each person takes towards more abundant, radiant health.

Part of that support is providing expertise regarding exercise selection in order to safely and efficiently achieve each person's goals. I have clients for whom walking is not just difficult, but contraindicated. Others are fresh out of cardiac rehab or recovering from hip replacement surgery. Some have neurological conditions that cause their bodies to respond to exercise in unexpected (and frequently negative) ways. For these clients, a carefully supervised program of exercise is an invaluable step towards the kind of health most of us take for granted. With the challenges they face, it is easy for many of these clients to succumb to depression. Perhaps the most valuable service I provide is "encouraging people to start somewhere." But that "somewhere" is different for everyone, and how they start is important.

Most of my clients are "normal" folks who just want to be healthy and remain able to do the things they want to do in everyday life. But, like most of us, they only have so much time for exercise and living in a gym or on the walking trail is not an option. A structured, comprehensive training program is the most efficient way to use a limited amount of workout time. Half an hour is a LOT of time if you use it well.

Most of the people I have trained were very much out of shape. Not only is performing a variety of exercises not overwhelming for them, but most are delighted to learn new ways to use their body! Clients that have never been athletic nor seen themselves as such are more easily overwhelmed (and easily bored) by simplistic, repetitive exercise programs that work the body but don't stimulate the mind. Providing a variety of appropriately challenging exercises that force them to mentally engage makes the process much more enjoyable and productive. I've lost track of how many clients eventually said they learned to enjoy exercising to the point of dreaming about it and spending leisure time reading and watching videos about exercise, and buying equipment they wanted to try. I love it because it tells me that they have internalized a real love for exercise, and I know they'll continue on with or without me.

As has been pointed out, doing bodywork can be a form of exercise. And as we all know, doing a lot of bodywork also comes with certain risks. We've heard the stories about hand/wrist pain, elbow, shoulder, and back pains. Some of us have experienced bodywork-related injuries. Some of us suffer from other injuries or have health conditions that pose special challenges. Walking may be a safe activity for most bodyworkers, but it isn't a panacea. Cardiovascular health is important for general health and can contribute to greater longevity, but bodywork is not an aerobic activity that requires cardio endurance. Strength, balance, and coordination (just to name a few) are attributes more directly applicable to preparing and maintaining the physical capacity to practice as a massage therapist. Ask 10 different experts what the best exercise for bodywork is, and you'll probably get 10 different answers... but I'd be amazed if any suggested walking as the best form of exercise. Consult the books Save Your Hands! and Dynamic Bodyuse, or massage instructor Joseph Muscolino, DC (he advocates pilates), and you'll read opinions that are similar to mine, but explained at much greater length and detail.

For general fitness, the "best" exercises are those you enjoy and are motivated to continue practicing. But when we consider how people's needs can be highly variable, we realize that saying "just go walking" is both unrealistic and misleading, and potentially dangerous. As a fitness professional, I feel ethically bound to provide a different type of advice that I feel is more responsive to those needs and less likely to result in undesired consequences. There is no "one size fits all" fitness program, not even the one I recommended previously - but that one is certainly one of the safest and most individually responsive programs I have ever seen, and therefore one of the best recommendations I can make to a mass audience of diverse (and unknown) readers.

It's clear you have found what works for you and that you enjoy it. I have no doubt that you will enjoy abundant health for many years to come. Please don't think that my differing opinions constitute an attack upon your preferred way of life. It is my hope that you now have a better understanding of why I expressed certain opinions and can reread them without perceiving a negative tone.
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby [email protected] on Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:34 pm

The best advice I can give you is to modify your treatments to best utilize your correct body mechanics and body weight. You can you do a lot of triggerpoint and deep tissue, if you work with your table lower you may be able to give more pressure with less effort. ( I learnt how to do massage via the "WorkSmart" technique, my table is only about a foot from the ground to do deep work, I do most of my sessions in a lunge or squat to keep my back straight. ) You can also use a variety of triggerpoint tools made from every material imaginable and any size or shape. I HIGHLY recommend this if you are doing a lot of triggerpoint with your thumbs, try using your elbows and forearms more than just your hands and fingers. And as always, SELF CARE!!! Trade with someone you work with, even if it's just for 10-15 min at a time, get them to work your forearms and arms, and vice versa. It good to take care of each other. And of course, it's time to commit to a healthier lifestyle, and that means doing what you can to get some sort of exercise and to start cutting out "bad" foods when you can. Hope these tips help, and ask if you have questions about low table work!
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby chicagofm on Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:40 am

I hope the advice I giv you is useful. It sounds to me like you need to schedule some "me time" every single day-even if it's only for 1.5 hours. I can tell you have a busy schedule, but what good is all that work if you are not able to take care of yourself and enjoy life.

If you are working 8 hours a day, schedule your self for an hour and a half to go to the gym. No matter what else you do, make this the most important thing for you each day. I work in an extremely stressful enviornment, and I ended up giving more to the clients (mentally) than I gave for myself. Get in the gym each day, or at the very least, go for some sort of walk to clear you mind and do some cardio. I learned a long time ago that it's all about priority. If you can schedule your "me time" just as you would a client, you will start to feel a little better because your taking care of yourself. It's very easy to get burned out in this business. I really hope this helps. :D
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby holley on Sat Jan 02, 2010 10:26 pm

The best exercises are the ones you do.
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby JLWmassage on Mon Jan 25, 2010 4:36 pm

I have found that horseback riding helps to keep me grounded while doing bodywork. I also take a 90 min. yoga class 3x's a week. And I love to take a hike in the woods. I also see a chiropractor. And if you are not able to handle the work than see 2 less clients a week
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby eyesofblue on Fri May 28, 2010 5:05 pm

saw this article about walking. I thought it was appropriate to the conversation here.

http://www.dellagrotte-somatic.com/arti ... -walk.html

and I like this, holley. so true
holley wrote:The best exercises are the ones you do.
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Re: Staying Fit

Postby Sandyolmt on Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:43 pm

Great article, thanks for sharing. :D
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