Updated: Apr 26
Before we dive into why modification doesn’t mean easy, let’s define modification for our purposes. Modification is any change in a movement, exercise, or drill in order for you to be able to perform optimally. This could be anything from performing pushups on your knees to executing a Pallof press instead of doing sit-ups to doing bodyweight squats instead of weighted overhead lunges.
Every woman is different. Here are three reasons why you can’t compare yourself and your fitness journey to anyone else around you:
1. Different Levels of Fitness
Fitness levels vary on a wide spectrum. Some people started working out as children playing sports. Some got involved with fitness as a teenager. Many of us didn’t start any kind of fitness routine until adulthood when we realized that it was important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The length of time you have been involved in exercise can greatly impact your level of fitness.
The time you can commit to fitness also contributes to the level you reach. If you only have the time to exercise 1-2 times per week, you will not attain the same level of fitness as someone who can get to the gym 5-6 times every week.
2. Different Health Considerations
So many aspects are encompassed in this point, it’s hard to know where to begin! Health factors like diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and chronic pain can all affect the types of exercise that is safe for you as well as the intensity level which you can maintain. Medication can also impact your fitness as there can be many side effects that can adversely affect your ability to perform physical activities.
Pregnancy and postpartum are also physical aspects that need to be taken into consideration when discussing women’s fitness. You tend to see one of two extremes – either women are very scared to participate in exercise because they think it will harm the baby or they don’t think anything should change at all with their fitness throughout their pregnancy and they should get back to intense exercise as quickly as possible after delivery. Within these two extremes, there is a middle ground. Being well-informed about the changes in your body during pregnancy and postpartum and how to modify exercise appropriately can make all the difference in how you feel throughout pregnancy and your postpartum recovery.
3. Different Fitness Goals
Goals for fitness vary widely. You might be taking a spin class because your friend didn’t want to do it alone. You might be a new mom and want to set a healthy example for your children. You may have signed up for a 5K in 6 months and you want to be able to run the whole thing. You may want to be a professional body builder. You might want to participate in the CrossFit Games. The list could go on and on. The goal of the person next to you at your gym is probably completely different from yours. You might just want to be able to climb the stairs in your house without losing your breath, while the woman lifting weights on the other side of the gym is training for a Spartan Race. Both goals are equally valid. Both goals are attainable and will be reached in different ways, so you cannot compare what you are doing to what she is doing.
Modification can be done in a variety of ways. Perhaps you exercise for less time or you use less weight. Maybe you do fewer reps or perform a completely different movement altogether. Going back to the examples I gave at the beginning:
*Pushups from your knees can be done when you haven’t built up upper body strength to perform them from your toes yet – you’re at a different place in your fitness journey.
*Executing a Pallof press instead of sit-ups is often a recommended modification for women postpartum, especially if you have a significant diastasis – you have different health considerations.
*Doing bodyweight squats instead of weighted lunges can be performed when you are just trying to get back into fitness and the woman doing weighted lunges is training for a competition – you have different fitness goals.
All this to say, that modifying an exercise doesn’t mean you are making it easier. That modification is just what you need for your stage of life and fitness.
No matter what your modification or the reason for it, there’s no need for you to feel that you’re not worthy because of having to modify. That modification is not “easy”, it’s what you need. Oftentimes, modification is the best thing for you to do to reach your goals safely and efficiently!
If you’re pregnant or postpartum and you aren’t sure about how to start or continue your fitness journey, reach out to me! That’s what I am here for.
Keep an eye out this week for some great modifications to exercise that you can incorporate into your fitness routine as needed!