Learn some health tips from men who battle gravity for a living.
Like most guys, when I think of yoga, I think of funny poses, Spandex pants, and regurgitating weird noises to strange music. It doesn’t help that the most used image in promoting yoga is a woman standing in a field pretending to be a tree.
Still, it’s recently become regular practice for me, especially since my yoga-teaching girlfriend thought it would be a good way to bond. So there I am at 7 a.m., in a yoga studio as the guy who awkwardly makes his way through the poses with the funny names.
As much as I’d like to be the nice guy who says he does yoga for his girlfriend, I mostly do it as cross-training for my other activities: freestyle rollerblading. (And, yes, I’ve heard the joke about the hardest part of rollerblading, so you can save it.)
Now that I’m 30, I feel the aches and pains of slamming against concrete much longer than I do when I was 15. Especially in my back and hips. That, and yoga gives me the flexibility and improved reaction time needed to keep me alive when I’m holding onto cars going 35 mph in city traffic.
Going to yoga class on a regular basis is the kind of routine I need otherwise I’d let myself become too busy to do it on my own. I feel good knowing I am not alone.
A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that people who did yoga over 26 weeks fought off back pain better than people who were given a book about stretching.
Shocking, I know. But the plot thickens: the study found that “conventional stretching” classes were better than yoga.
So, yoga is better than a self-care book, but it’s not better than traditional stretching. Still, the effects of yoga are better than doing nothing, especially for those looking for a more spiritual aspect to a workout.
But it’s not just yoga pants, gongs, and farting in public.
It can be a powerful tool to taking care of yourself, especially if you’re like the guys that crave more out of life than softball and flag football on the weekends.
You know, men. Like, real men.
Rick Moliterno and Jon Julio are both pioneers in their respective sports. More importantly, they’re still doing what they’ve been doing mainly because they do yoga and other hippie things.
Yoga is one of many things Moliterno—a professional BMX biker for 30 years—does to stay healthy.
“For long-term general health, I feel like nothing beats a good diet and regular, diverse exercise. As a BMX rider I try to be on my bike regularly, even if it’s just a short ride. This is good exercise in itself,” he said. “I also mix in at various times—to keep it interesting—yoga, light weights, and various other fitness moves. There is a lot out there, so people should create their own program out of what they enjoy.”
Staying in shape is important to Moliterno, considering he’s now in his 40s and his life revolves around flying through the air with nothing but a whole lot of concrete and his bike underneath him.
Yoga helps give him the flexibility needed to perform complex maneuvers, and help him recover when something goes wrong. Time off his bike not only takes him away from his passion, but it also means he can’t test ride Standard Bykes, which is pretty important considering he owns the company.
Julio—a professional aggressive rollerblader for 15 years—is the benchmark in rollerblading because he’s still cranking out jaw-dropping video sections. Considering 34 is old in rollerblading, Julio has to take care of himself, too. For him, that involves lots of vegetables and no meat. He also stays away from fast food, although he does have moments of indiscretions.
“It does get tough when you are on the road. Sometimes you are forced to eat fast food,” he said. “But these days it’s pretty easy to find organic/vegetarian foods/restaurants all over the world.”
Julio says another
secret to his success is being active—daily. That involves a lot more than just
rolling around the streets or skate parks. Owner of Valo Skate Brand and TheM Goods Distribution,
Julio can get caught behind a desk more often than he wants. That takes him off
his skates, but it doesn’t make him lazy.
“If I’m not skating everyday, I’m heading to the gym. I don’t do weights, but I run for about 30 minutes, ride the bike for another 30, and do the standard sit ups and push ups,” he said. “Strong knees are important. I’ve been riding work out bikes for as long as I can remember. Strengthening your thighs is key in the blade game.”
Still, at the level Julio skates and Moliterno bikes, accidents and injuries will happen. That’s when they say it’s important to be patient and let time do its job.
“Take even small injuries seriously so they don't turn into long term ones,” Moliterno said. “Rushing back in can lead to re-injury and more recovery time. I have had great success with this simple way of handling things.”
Outside two broken bones from getting hit by a car last summer, Moliterno has found that proactively handling much of his health has helped him immensely.
“A little research along with being willing to try new things goes a long way,” he said.