Reasons Why You Should Already Be Forest Bathing

Some of you know I've been an Executive Assistant with the National Park Service for several years now. In a week, I'll be taking a career leap outside of the parks and tourism industry. It's bittersweet. This has been a meaningful chapter in my life and the foundation of my career. At the same time, I'm filled with excitement for new beginnings. It feels surreal to take on a new adventure as a Project Coordinator in the tech industry with a renewed sense of passion and readiness to learn. 

Even as an employee working for the National Parks, this past year, my time spent in nature has dwindled close to none ...with the exception of blog shoots, short walks and occasional brunches on restaurant patios.

I crave it often. All of it; the sense of adventure, the fresh air, the laughs, those rewarding peak views and the relief of walking back down the hike.

Here's my promise. I'll keep nature close and hope these few words of encouragements inspire you to do the same.

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Shower yourself in greenery.

Forest Bathing (also known as Shinrin-Yoku) is essentially the practice to visit the forest to slow down for preventive health benefits. 

The idea is simple: if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved.
— shinrin-yoku.org
  • Scientifically proven benefits of forest bathing include reduced blood pressure and stress, increased energy levels and improved mood and sleep.

  • Those who practice forest bathing consistently are said to be happier people, nurture deeper friendships and better sense of clarity and intuition.

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Nature has renewed my perspective and refreshed my soul when it needed it the most. 

As I left the office on the day of this shoot, I felt frantic and frazzled, just trying to get from point A to point B. When I arrived to the succulent gardens to meet Nicole, I had some time to sit down and look up. It's been awhile since I unplugged, and though it was only for a few short minutes it was exactly the medicine I needed.

Nothing but the sounds of garden... the rustling leaves and a startling surprise of a tiny hummingbird zipping by my back.

I needed those few minutes more than I realized. Just, to be there, in that very moment.

Those few minutes in the gardens brought me back to what mattered most: a calm state of mind. Those few minutes brought all my focus towards creativity and getting to know Nicole.

Such a pleasant surprise for an unexpected life lesson... a reminder on how important it is to give yourself time to catch up with yourself, which many of us forget from time to time.

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As humans in this time, we easily get distracted by loud noise and information overload.

Our minds are being trained to run just as fast as our smartphones. The expectation to react and respond to emails, texts, social media only ups the ante. It becomes harder and harder for us all to disconnect from work. A lot of the times we may be somewhere, but our minds are obviously wandering elsewhere distracted in thought.

Though we can't control this demand, we can empower ourselves through self-care and prevent normalizing this busy state of mind.

Forest Bathing may be what you never knew you needed.

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Find a quiet garden or park. Take a stroll. Close your eyes. Open your senses and breathe...

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Swing Away at Billy Goat Hill

Shorty, swing my way.

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A few weekends back, my adventure friend, Daniel, and I decided to hit up some of the city's best views, aka the instagram jackpot locations. Billy Goat Hill was high on that list, and we lucked out because this time the swing was there! For some odd reason, it's hard to gauge if it's there. It gets taken up and fixed pretty often. I've learned to check the instagram hashtags for the most recent photos to see if it's up.

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We people-watched in between snapshots. Each group of people that passed by couldn't resist hopping on for a turn on the swing: families with young children, two college students stopping by to smoke, and saw locals taking their pups on a walk.

It's an easy place to go if you want the city view, but don't want the hike. The location is hidden in the Glen Park neighborhood, and you can park nearby so no need to worry if you aren't wearing comfy shoes.

Working out at Studiomix

The entry way to the stairs to Studiomix

The entry way to the stairs to Studiomix

Why I Made the Switch

My colleagues introduced me to sweatworking. It's basically like networking, but rather than getting to know your coworkers over drinks or happy hour, you pick up group fitness together! 

After they got me to attend my first class, I knew this gym felt like home. For me, it was conveniently on my route home from work, the facility was sparkly clean, and the quality of the classes and instructors were beyond my expectations. It's also great to note they have classes starting almost every half hour, so every day you have options to pick from. Since I've joined, I've been generous with trying different classes from yoga and pilates to weight training and TRX before pinpointing my routine. Let's put it this way, I have yet to take a bad class. 

In addition to quality and quantity of classes, I rationalized how much it would cost per class. I took their membership of $150 a month, and divided that into how many classes I'd attend weekly...3-5 or so. That's $7.50-12.50 per class, which is considerably modest for San Francisco fitness classes! Yes, I did have to really consider the financial aspect, going from paying $35 a month at my previous gym. Sure, at first glance, the price took me off-guard, but after the first class, it's no hard decision. I know the best investment, is the one you make for yourself and your health. I walk in, focus on my workout, and leave. That's it! No sign of disrespectful gym members, or maxed out capacity cardio machines. They made it so simple for me. 

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Why It Works

Studies show that adding variety to your workout routine will help you break through fitness plateaus, prevent overuse injuries, build new muscles and make exercise fun if it starts to get repetitive (source). For me, my strength is in weights, but I dread cardio more than anything else.  By taking classes that switch it up, I can easily incorporate both, and it doesn't feel like a chore. Still, I can always assure I'm still getting an ass-kicking. If I'm really not feeling like hitting my plyometrics when my post-work energy is low, I'll take a yoga class instead and vice versa. If you know me well, you know I love having options!

Yes, there are plenty of gyms in the city, and I've been a member to handful of them. I find that some are either specialty class-based gyms that serve one genre of classes, or they are chain-brand names and their main niche is not group fitness, but more up-keeping the facility itself. As much as I love a gym with a solid weight room and loads of open free-range equipment, I was looking for something a little different...one that had options that would motivate me to up my cardio training. Even if your goal is the exact opposite, Studiomix has classes that will serve your wants and needs!

The Studiomix Nutrition Manifesto

The Studiomix Nutrition Manifesto

 

My Favorite Classes

Below are a few of my favorite weekly classes. I pulled the descriptions from their calendar to be more specific about what the class offers! If you want to see the full schedule, click it here: See the schedule here: class schedule.  

  1. X-Train or Cycle Express with Andre or Vanessa
  2. HIIT with Andre or Vanessa
  3. Build with any of the instructors
  4. Strength + Conditioning with any of the instructors
  5. Power Yoga with Howard
One of my favorite studios: The Strength Studio! Tons of equipment including kettlebells, and 6 platforms. YES. (pc: Studiomix)

One of my favorite studios: The Strength Studio! Tons of equipment including kettlebells, and 6 platforms. YES. (pc: Studiomix)

The evening street view from outside of the gym. Studiomix is located on Van Ness Ave inside the same building as the AMC Movie Theater. The gym is on the third floor.

The evening street view from outside of the gym. Studiomix is located on Van Ness Ave inside the same building as the AMC Movie Theater. The gym is on the third floor.

Hope to see you there!