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The best exercise to fit you

Written by Daniel Otero

Aerobics-anaerobic, Yoga-Pilates: What to choose?

By: Daniel Otero


There has been an evolution in the exercise styles since Jane Fonda came out with her aerobics tapes in the 1980s back in the U.S.  You know, those tapes when she wore leotards in pink & purple, head bandanna, long sweat socks and spandex. Sports clothing got simpler, but still bright in its neon colors.  However, exercises got more complex.  Damn right confusing!

I found myself going to the gym and trying to comprehend these changes which had transpired in the last 30 to 40 years.  Wondering where I’d fit-in after an exercise hiatus of eight years.  My slow decline in exercising began 14 years before and boy, was I sorry to had abandon it in the first place.

What will I do?

When you’re young, you tell yourself, “Gain weight, no problem.  I can burn those calories off easy!” Ha, what a fallacy in truth.  The reality is, it’s easy to gain weight and harder to lose it; especially after the age of 40.  A person’s metabolism gets slower and slower.  Therefore, as in my case, it was time to get my fat ass to the gym and also work on my gut.  The changes came in my 49th year of life, when I knew I needed to drastically do something or die from obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

With fast foods abound, even when living in China.  I learned one simple rule on losing weight.  The truth is, stay away from the sugars or keep them down to once a week (e.g. Coca-Cola & Pepsi).  Avoid the McDonald’s and KFC franchises.  It’s better to stick with the Chinese food variations; there’s a lot of tasty dishes with vegetables and these are certainly healthier than eating a greasy chicken or a reprocessed hamburger with fries.


Surround yourself with positive-energy people, avoid those personalities who downright bring you down.  The best thing is to be around those who inspire you. You know, the Dale Carnegie types.  The person who inspires you is the best motivator when doing exercises, from your teachers to classmates.  Start by finding the types of people you want to be around at the local gym.  You can do it!

Get inspired by looking at the older generation.  Anywhere one walks in China, a person can notice the middle-age to elderly generation square-dancing in the plazas after 6 p.m.  This is something exemplary about Chinese society.

Last, but certainly not least, my personal inspiration was watching handsome-attractive people around me who looked gorgeous in shape. Watching my flabby belly roll up and down was a motivator to get to the gym.  Therefore, my idea was to tone it down, have my body back and most certainly, have my life back.

Aerobics, anaerobic, yoga or Pilates: What should I do?

What’s an aerobic?  It’s a vigorous form of calisthenic to increase your breathing and heart rate.  Through rapid walking, running and swimming. Practiced with consistency, it can help tone the body.

The best way to explain an anaerobic is doing aerobics in a higher form. But beware, this version is faster and more intense.  The workout deals with tightening of the belly, legs and buttocks.  The anaerobic form is like a nirvana of aerobics; in which one is constantly depraved of oxygen (O2). This in itself is to strive for better breathing, expansion of body resistance, lung capacity and to avoid the problems of apnea which sometimes comes with old age.

A Pilates teacher in Guangming District (Shenzhen, China) explains it in the following way: “Pilates and yoga are totally different.  Yoga sometimes pays attention to the combination of body and mind.  The so-called state of Samadhi or being closer to the Buddha.  Pilates focuses on rehabilitation, *core strength and movement back to life; will definitely focus or tell you where the strength is and what part it is.”

*Core strength or body core which the teacher previously explained comes from: the lower-back muscles, spine, upper thighs, hips and abdominal muscles.  The previous five are recognized as the body center.

In conclusion

Personally, exercise can cause tiredness and make me sore.  It’s only in the beginning.  But there is the flip side.  The rest of the time it makes me energized, with the desire to do more and not less.  Those are the positives of exercise.  The want, the need to do new things and learn.

Therefore, the first motivating factor has to start with self, positives changes, get out there to socialize and exercise.  Start slow, at least three-times-a-week for more than 30 minutes.  If that is too much, then 5,000 steps-a-day steadily, walking or standing for more than three-hours. Increase to four times a week, then subsequently to five; with periods of 45 minutes or more of exercises.  Then increment your resistance to 10,000-steps-a-day.  With that said, what are you waiting for?  It’s time to get cracking and back into shape.  Come on!  Well wishes and best of luck!

About the author

Daniel Otero

A New Yorker who has been living in China for the past 10 years. He's a freelance writer/journalist and ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher.

A former member of the military with extensive travel to 50 countries and has lived in six.

Lover of life, good food, travel, writing and dealing with social issues.