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What The Heck Is An Exercise Modality, And Why Should I Care?

What are you trying to get out of your exercise program? Are you trying to lose weight? Are you trying to put on muscle mass? Are you training for a sport or an athletic contest of some kind?

Okay, now that you've answered the question of why you are exercising to begin with, you are now ready to ask yourself what type of exercise program you will need to get involved with in order to accomplish that goal.
If you answered 'aerobics', 'weight training', 'yoga', 'flexibility exercises', 'martial arts', or pretty much any other form of exercise that you can imagine, then congratulations are in order! You've just answered the question, 'What the heck is an exercise modality - ?

Simply put, an exercise modality is a system or form of exercise that is designed to elicit a very specific response from the body of the individual who is engaging in the exercise. In the case of aerobics, most people are trying to get their body to shed excess bodyfat and to increase their level of cardiovascular endurance. Weight or resistance training exercisers are usually trying to grow or tone their muscles to make them stronger, bigger, or more attractive. People who practice Yoga are usually after a stronger mind/body connection in order to gain more energy or awareness.

The possibilities are endless. There are so many exercise modalities out there that even trying to name them all would be a waste of time. Even as this article is written, and even as you 'the reader 'take in its information, someone somewhere is probably coming up with a new 'exercise modality'.
So why even try to learn them? Why should you care about exercise modalities? Simply put, because you need to practice them!
No, that doesn't mean that you have to be able to run a marathon, bench press 400 lbs, balance on your pinky toe, and dance a jig all at the same time -

The point is not that you have to become proficient in any specific exercise modality. You do need to learn about different types of training, though. No matter how effective your present exercise program is, one of two things is either already happening, or is going to happen eventually:

1) Your body is adapting to the stimulus provided by your chosen exercise modality, and you are not seeing the same results from it that you saw in the beginning.

2) The exercise modality that you have chosen is lacking in one or more of the measurements of good health: strength, cardiovascular conditioning, flexibility, agility, balance, tensile strength of bones, tendons, and ligaments, basic survival skills such as starting and limit strength, swimming capabilities, or a heightened level of neuromuscular coordination.
As you can see, simply being able to run through a circuit of weight machines at the gym and then jumping into an aerobics class is not sufficient for a level of health and fitness that is both complete, as well as sustainable over the long-term.

Despite what you may think, there will never be a time in your life when it is appropriate or healthy for you to 'back off' and give up on exercise or proper nutrition. From today until the day when you leave this Earth, you will need the high quality of life that is provided by the proper level of health and fitness.
In order to ensure that your health and fitness program does not allow your body to adapt to a certain stimulus, as well as to ensure that your program includes activity in each of the measurable levels of health and fitness, you must practice different exercise modalities on a regular basis.

Don't scoff at Pilates because you think it is for wimps. Those of you in the aerobics room don't look at the weight lifters as if they are a bunch of cavemen who know nothing about true fitness. Those of you in the Yoga frame of mind, open up your mind to the fact that Yoga alone is not going to maintain your level of health and your quality of life from now until the end. Martial artists 'step out of the Dojo and pick up some dumbbells or balance on an exercise ball once in awhile.

There is no single exercise modality that is perfect for everyone, all the time. Yes, there are certain modalities that work better for certain people, but that doesn't mean that you should never check out new activities and experiences.
Close-mindedness has never resulted in positive results in the entire history of our planet. It's not going to start now. Open your mind to new possibilities and you will open yourself to new experiences and a higher quality of life itself.

Who knows? You might even enjoy it!

About the Author: Aaron Potts is a Certified Personal Trainer, and also hosts a daily free fitness tips podcast at


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