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sneaky misconceptions:

self-care, Exercise & intensity

the problem is in assessing function and purpose by its appearance. 

Pop culture is skilled at this- simplifying, generalizing, depersonalizing. It's no coincidence that most will associate things that look like yoga as low intensity and as something that will check the self-care box. Just as it is no coincidence that most will assume participation in a high intensity exercise class will check that fitness box. If it were as simple as checking each of these boxes off, why is it so hard to get what we want? In choosing an option that is depersonalized, it's not about what we want, it's about wanting what we've been given, a convenience at the expense of self. If we succumb to this idea as reality, eventually our wants will be determined (and confirmed) by what we see most often and our needs get tossed aside.  To summarize, #FOMO -> #YOLO -> #OHNO 

conclusions inferred by pop culture.

aka correlation vs causation

Low intensity


looks like

yoga | stretching

therefore is

self-care | pre/rehab

high intensity


looks like

HIIT | weightlifting

therefore is

exercise | fitness

intensity is a relative measure- on a spectrum.

The beauty of the spectrum is that it makes visibly clear that there is a lot more 'gray' area and a lot less 'black and white'. The majority that lies between endpoints requires much more attention, though it's seldom received and remains a very fuzzy, often avoided part of our decision making process.





Using the above color-coded spectrum for the group of people below it becomes apparent that there is not a lot of common ground in their perception of intensity among these exercises. If all of them were to participate in the same 'strength' class, would they receive equal benefit? Of course not. Would anyone get the strength that they signed up for? Maybe one. Classes serve as general templates. If you want to reap the most strength from this class, you have to know yourself well enough to know what you need and how to get it. Relying on an instructor to provide appropriate modifications doesn't address the bigger issue- why some aspects are more challenging for you and how to fix them. To progress (even without a goal) requires systemic change- not just parts of the whole. In an overly simplified logic, it seems that people view themselves as composed of various exercises, rather than a body that can exercise. Transitioning to the latter can't happen if your efforts are spent surviving the length of an exercise or class, as this will only reinforce function through very small, disconnected compartments. While modifications to particular exercises can certainly be helpful, they can also be the band-aid on a detrimental pattern. You have to be able to determine which it is and what you want to do about it.

person A

person B

person c

person D

person E

10 squats

at bodyweight


downward dog

Getting off 

of the floor

5 Push-ups

at bodyweight

Full range


do your actions reflect your intentions?

Whether the intensity is perceived as high or low, a bothersome knee joint will remain unstable.

Choosing a low intensity modality does not mean you are actually helping with recovery, pre/rehab, or self-care, just as choosing higher intensity doesn't mean you're progressing strength or fitness. 

The perception of intensity is based on the collective experience of your nervous system, which can change on a whim (without your knowledge), from things like pain, injury, past experiences, emotional reactions, expectations, beliefs, etc. It is our actions, not intentions, that guide the nervous system towards resiliency or away from it.

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