There’s been a lot of discourse in wellness circles around the pros and cons of high-intensity workouts versus mindful movement such as yoga and tai chi. As with many things in the industry, it’s created division and “sides.” All of a sudden that Wednesday bootcamp session that you love has been labeled as the “devil’s workout” and you feel confused. Or on the other hand, your yoga teacher makes fear-based statements about the absolute necessity of a daily sadhna but to you, it feels arduous and counterintuitive to your wellbeing.

To help us navigate this terrain and to be true to ourselves and our bodies, we enlisted Carly Farmer, the owner of Pilates center, Studio Amor Fati. Carly has been practicing and teaching dance, Pilates, and yoga since her teens. Discovering the practices before they became “mainstream” gave her the opportunity to be mentored early on in her life by some of the best teachers in the country. However, she’s not one to preach a Pilates-only regimen and has found, over her own personal journey as both a student and teacher, that balance and intuition always reign supreme. Learn from Carly’s inclusive perspective below.

“When a body moves, it’s the most revealing thing. Dance for me a minute, and I’ll tell you who you are.” ~ Mikhail Baryshnikov

When asked to write about the difference between intentional movement and high-intensity workouts such as HIIT and bootcamps, I wanted to remove any concept of “versus” and present the idea that everything can be “intentional movement” — even when we are actively choosing not to move at all. It’s also important to me that this article doesn’t become another piece on the things we’re doing wrong and the things others are doing right.

There seems to be so much noise currently in the atmosphere and so many contradictory rules on the requirements needed to stay “well.” It feels overwhelming, disconnected, and stressful; I stopped subscribing to this narrative a long time ago.

To me, it’s not so much about what we are doing, but more so how we are doing it. It’s my belief that there’s always an opportunity to add more intention into our lives and to move closer to feeling good. Many of my beautiful friends love high intensity workouts; spinning literally gives them life, centers them and afterwards, they glow. For me, not so much. High intensity workouts seem to spike my hormones and make me feel intense and inflamed. Growing up as a dancer led me to teach and practice yoga and Pilates. My temperament can also be highly sensitive and at times intense, therefore, I find my deepest and most creative flow states come at the spa and through mindful and fluid movement. Softness, beauty, expression, divinity, depth, control, precision, and flow are my medicines. However, I understand that others need fire, loud music, energy, competition, intensity, and even aggression. All movement is an outlet and there are many underlying factors. My biggest belief is that only we know the best paths for ourselves — no social media guru, therapist, or fitness trainer is better equipped to guide you more than your own soul.

If you want to go for a run, go for a run — but be sure to enjoy the fresh air and have a good playlist. If you want to stretch, stretch — but make sure you feel sensual as you move through your poses. If you want to do nothing, do nothing — but feel the power in restoring and even being “lazy.” In every moment, let yourself go and be intentional; it’s the shortest route to being fluid and in touch.

At the end of the day, we all deserve to do the practices that make us feel luxurious, graceful, powerful, and compassionate in our skin. Our energy is our gift to this world. We need to do the things that light us up and make us feel healthy. If you are getting your hour in daily, or if you have taken the year off, to me the most important thing is that you are moving with integrity and with pure intention; that you are feeling humble, healthy, open, and true. Maybe it’s time to let some of the dogma go and just be intentional.

“Perfection is not just about control. It’s also about letting go. Surprise yourself.” ~ Black Swan

Born a dancer, Carly Farmer completed a STOTT Pilates certification and Yogaworks 200 Hour Teacher Training, by the age of 23 she had opened her first pilates and yoga studio in Newport Beach, CA. She is also a Holistic Health Coach and studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and in 2020, Carly opened her second private Pilates studio ~ Studio Amor Fati in Los Olivos. Carly has led and hosted numerous retreats, workshops, and wellness series across the globe, and is devoted to studying, embodying, and examining the connection between the mind, body, and spirit. She has a soft and gentle approach, but is precise and strong in her intentions. She believes that we are all unique individuals made up of a combination of art and science, with a strong baseline of love.

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