Exercise Less, Move More

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Angelica gavaldon 2

I never thought I would become a tennis coach. For as long as I can remember, my whole life has revolved around long training hours, hitting thousands of balls, and missing out on weekends, holidays, important events, and important milestones like prom. I dreamt of retiring from the tour and never stepping on the court again. I could not wait for my normal life to begin.

Two years into retirement, I started working in television. I was a commentator for a national Spanish language sports show and an online columnist. I enjoyed it immensely. I was approached by many players that wanted me to coach them but at the time, I was not interested. It was then that I understood that it was my calling to give back to this sport that had given me so much. It became my passion to help players at different levels reach their goals.

I immediately began to focus on being a coach, which is completely different than being a player. Just as I did when I trained to compete, I dedicated myself to becoming the best coach possible. I studied, enrolled in courses, got certifications, consulted, and still to this day, I never stop learning.

As a former athlete, I am always trying to push myself to exercise less. While this might not be a challenge for most, for me it is something that I have to work at mentally. However, finding that perfect balance of not pushing my body to exhaustion every day, has been extremely beneficial to my overall energy levels and keeping my body healthy.

My usual routine consists of running two hours a day – one hour of interval sprinting, endurance training, and light jogging – while I read and answer all my work calls and emails. Then I push through 30 minutes of weights. Keep in mind that my training days as a professional tennis player were between 5 to 6 hours a day, every day, with one rest day per week.

At one point, I decided to become more mindful and present, and started connecting to my body. The days I did not feel like working out I did not, and I felt better. I realized that, after taking a day or even two off, I had better runs; I was faster, and just more energized. I began moving more during the day and took longer walks with my son, Noah. I got a yoga mat and started stretching my body. I also invested in some yoga blocks that provided a higher surface to work out on, so I could become more flexible. I started to take more swims at the pool. Now, instead of laying in the sun while Noah swims, I jump in and swim for a longer time.

I was so used to a certain type of tiredness that I thought it was normal, I was missing out on how good my body could feel. So, for all of you trying to get into a routine or lay off a routine, try to connect to your body by doing some meditation. Deep breaths and just stay present in what your body is telling you. Our body is our temple, a blessing. Listen to it, embrace it, love it, and keep it healthy!

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Kamran Saeed
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