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MASTER CLASS: Exercise your imagination for a better workout

by Matt Parrott | May 3, 2021 at 1:47 a.m.
Yoga instructor Tanesha Forrest demonstrates the Knee Raise Overhead Press exercise for Matt Parrott's Master Class at Little Rock Racquet Club. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Celia Storey)

The beauty of personal health and wellness lies in that word "personal," in individuality.

One person's journey might involve meditation and yoga. Others fill their needs through high-octane activities such as mountain biking or water skiing. Whatever the pursuit, a personal health program should be anything but cookie cutter.

I have some ideas for elevating customization.

When I look around my office, I am reminded of family, history, traveling and stories — my own interests. There are many photos of my daughter, my mother and friends. On one shelf, I am pictured in front of Westminster Abbey and on another I am atop Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. The photos stand with stacked textbooks, biographies and scientific journals. My beloved Kansas City sports teams are featured in framed work and newspapers.

I surround myself with reminders of who I am and what is important to me. I believe that everyone's exercise program should be just as personal.

In my experience, the people most likely to adhere to their exercise programs are those who take the time to really consider their individual interests and customize their programs to match. I think about the cyclists who buy specific clothes, shoes and equipment to facilitate their passion to ride. I think about trail runners who wake up at the crack of dawn in the middle of July to avoid scorching weather. These are the things that make a program personal.

The amount of possible customization is only limited by one's own imagination. Music, environment, clothing, equipment, temperature, lighting, time of day and many other factors can be tweaked to nurture motivation.

Motivation is why individualization is so important. Individualization is the reason that I work well in my office environment, and why I find it more difficult to concentrate while working on an airplane. Humans thrive in their personal space, and an exercise program can be like a personal space.

This week's exercise presents an opportunity to express individuality — it will fit into almost any workout setup. It challenges the core and upper body using only a medicine ball. The Knee Raise Overhead Press is simple and appropriate for all fitness levels, but it is perfect for a back patio workout.

1. Hold a medicine ball against your chest while standing.

2. Lift your right knee slowly toward your chest.

3. As you do this, press the medicine ball overhead.

4. As you reach full extension, hold the knee up and pause for five seconds.

5. Lower the right foot and lower the medicine ball back to chest level.

6. Repeat with the left leg.

Perform two sets of eight alternating repetitions.

The Knee Raise Overhead Press feels natural. It is almost as if the knee wants to rise when the ball is pressed upward. For a laugh, try reversing the motion by lifting the knee as you lower the ball. Tricky!

This exercise is a perfect addition for those looking to improve balance and stability. If better balance is on your list of improvements, I recommend adding this cool movement to the mix.

Matt Parrott is glad to hear from readers. Send him questions or share a story about your pandemic workouts at

[email protected]

Print Headline: Imagination essential to customize one's workout


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