MIRIAM WASMUND (Dancer, Fitness Coach): “Take responsibility for your learning.”

Miriam Wasmund is one of the most sought after fitness coaches in New York. An elite teacher. A trainer’s trainer. She has cultivated a loyal community through an approach that is focused on no gimmicks and sound movement science. When she is not dancing, Miriam can be found motivating others to be the best versions of their physical selves. Here are her Top 12 lessons.

Miriam is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, United States of America Track and Field, Functional Movement Screen, Trigger Point, Kettlebell Athletics and Schwinn Cycling. She is an elite dancer as well and is certified by Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre. She is on Instagram @move2livenow.


12 Lessons to Move Better and Live Better

#1. Move every day. Whether it’s a brand new class or your favorite work out. Gentle stretching or going for a cathartic run or power walk. Playing outside with your family, friends, children or pets. Or even setting an alarm to remind yourself to take a lap around the office every 30 mins. Make sure you get up and move your body daily. Your circulation, posture, mobility, stress and brain function will all benefit from play, motion and activity.


#2. Take responsibility for your own learning. I can’t stress this enough. You can take all the classes, hire the best trainers, and sit with the latest magazine articles. However, unless you actually take responsibility for ingesting and digesting that content you will not grow. Part of your journey to fitness and wellness is about learning and responsibility. Someone can shovel all sorts of information your way but it’s up to you to be actively engaged in your own learning.


#3. Mix it up. We hear this all the time but there is a reason for this constant reminder other than the fear of boredom. Our bodies respond to muscular confusion. The more we challenge our bodies to try new and different modalities the more likely we are to have broader and more well-rounded adaptations. This makes us more versatile and capable of positive change. So mixing it up will not only help get you the results you want, but help you become more athletic and capable of taking on challenges.


#4. Learn to balance. Both literally and figuratively. Doing balance exercises will help you weed out and assess weaknesses that may cause injury if not addressed.  Working single leg balance exercises for example will show you which leg is stronger or more limber and give you a true sense of the work you need to do to even them out. But balance applies more broadly in fitness as well: balance work and rest, balance moderation and fun, balance strength work and cardiovascular work. Overall, balance is integral for the big picture.


#5. Take a leap. As always, we have to jump sometimes and trust that our bodies won’t fail us. Even if we miss the mark, falter, or fall, the knowledge that we can jump is the most effective. Our minds tend to get in the way before our bodies. I’ve seen bodies do some absolutely incredible things that would not have been possible without a strong, determined, and trusting mind.

#6. Pull more than you push. This is another literal and figurative tip. Literally, work more on retractions. Because our eyes are in front of us and because of other factors such as cell phones, computers and basic locomotion (walking and running), we spend more time pushing forward than pulling back. Being in the same plane of motion tends to make the fronts of our bodies tight and the posterior chain weak. But the act of pulling (think lat pull downs, pullups, rows and the like) and strengthening the muscles along our spinal column is imperative to posture and balanced core strength. Figuratively, listen more than you talk. Pull in information from wherever you can get it. Everyone has something to teach and none of us, not even the most seasoned fitness pros and athletes are above learning. The wisest ones, with proven longevity, are the best listeners for sure.


#7. Do the annoying stuff. If your doctor, trainer or coach wants you to do physical therapy exercises Do THEM! If your Trainer teaches you how to foam roll and stretch do it! Self-care and injury management is commonly seen as auxiliary work but it’s not. It’s actually all the fine tuning that will drive your wellness forward. Skip it and make excuses for why you can’t and you will see that you will have more setbacks than forward progress.

#8. Don’t be a slave to image. Get out from in front of the mirror. Get dirty. Wear whatever works. And don’t eat up all the latest fitness trends. Instead, work towards feeling and knowing your body from the inside. Have a laugh at yourself and confidence will follow. We live in an era that force-feeds us what we should look like and how we should feel but dig deep and remember that kid who ran cause it was fun. Danced cause it was silly. And got breathless and giggly with his or her friends whether or not someone was watching. Be that person.


#9. Soloist vs. ensemble. There is a time for everything but being part of an ensemble is where performers truly prove their worth and create a foundation. Try it out and surprise yourself. Take a chance and join a group. Running group, group fitness class, recreational team sports, volunteer fitness groups. And reap the rewards of community, fun, and shared struggle. It will give you a chance to see you are not alone in your plight and you might find you can and do inspire others. That in itself will be rewarding, we all have something to share.


#10. Train for something. Put a date on the calendar. A race, an obstacle course, a solo or group adventure someplace new. Take on a challenge and do your best to conquer it. Do something that has nothing to do with looks. True wellness is not about how we look but how we feel. And nothing honors that feeling more than setting a goal, creating an experience, and accomplishing it.


#11. Know your fitness age. If your goal is to live a long time and add life to your years, then it’s a marathon not a sprint. Know your fitness age. It’s important to realize wellness is a long haul kind of plan. You are not going to stop trying to live your best life once you drop a pant size are you? No, you are going to keep going so you can live out life to the fullest. So that means accepting there will be challenges and setbacks along the way. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of the race. It’s important to understand where we are in that race. Know your fitness age! Don’t compare yourself to someone who’s been active, training or studying a skill his or her whole life, or for 10 years, or even for 2 years when you have just begun. Be realistic about how long you have actually been dedicated to taking responsibility for your own learning and fitness. That’s your fitness age. That’s where you are in the race. But the good news is you aren’t racing anyone. You’re going at your own pace. Adapting, learning and accumulating skills, knowledge and wellness as you go.


#12. Choose to take care of yourself. It’s truly the most important thing we can do for ourselves and the ones we love. Make the tough choices. Stop making excuses and value your time as it is amazing how quickly it goes by.  It’s up to you to add quality to your years so we can be well and present for those around us who love us.

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