Cyclist on White Rock Lake. Photography by Danny Fulgencio

Jermaine Bouyer recommends heading to the lake to exercise. Photography by Danny Fulgencio

The past year, we learned and relearned many things: how to bake bread, how to install a backyard pond and how to play the ukulele. 

But most of all, the challenging times reminded us about the importance of health.

A new year brings new motivation to get and stay healthy. We can boost our immune system by engaging in healthy body and mind practices. That’s definitely doable in our neighborhood.

Ask Jermaine Bouyer about exercise, for example. If you’ve spent any time at the White Rock YMCA, you’ve likely seen him helping folks with machines and weights. He has worked as a personal trainer and is health and wellness director at several Y locations, including White Rock.

Let’s say you’ve decided to work on the extra COVID-19 pounds — thanks, sourdough bread — you packed on during the pandemic. Should you jump right in? Bouyer urges a more systematic approach.  

“Create a plan and set goals,” he says. “Keep it simple, and make sure the plan and goal line up with your lifestyle.” 

For those who aren’t ready to step into a gym for safety or comfort reasons, Bouyer recommends heading to White Rock Lake to run, walk and bike.

“Working out at home is always an option, too,” Bouyer says. “But to be successful, you should create a dedicated area for fitness.” 

He suggests using the garage, an extra room or even a corner of the living room.

Equally important, he says, is scheduling workouts on specific days and times. In fact, write them on your calendar.

And if you prefer working out in a gym?

“When entering the fitness floor, look for empty areas or areas where people are easily spaced out,” Bouyer says. “Know where the gym wipes are. Avoid people not following the mask and distancing rules. 

“Wear the mask when you need to. Wipe down the workout area of choice before and after use. Try to go to the gym during the calm times. Bring your own water, towel and mat.”

Forest Hills neighbor Mary Sue Hayward suggests adding yoga to your wellness plan. Hayward, who has a master’s degree in clinical and counseling psychology from Southern Methodist University, has been involved in yoga for almost 20 years, first as a student and later as a teacher.

“The physical and emotional benefits of a regular yoga practice are well documented,” Hayward says. “Through yoga, you can discover the relationship between flexibility, strength, breath and movement. You don’t need to be flexible or strong before starting a yoga practice. Yoga will help you develop an inner awareness of the physical body, especially a sense of midline, or center, and the perception of balance.”

A newbie might think yoga is all about the poses. Think again.

“In addition to the physical benefits, regular practitioners have noted that yoga settles the mind and promotes calm thoughts and emotions,” Hayward says. “By developing patience and kindness toward yourself in yoga, it is easier to be kind to yourself and others off the mat.”

Regardless of your path to wellness, it’s time to get moving. Hayward is partial to yoga, but she also embraces solo walks at White Rock Lake.  

“Hearing the waves lap against the shore, and seeing the ducks and pelicans and monk parakeets brings an instant sense of calm,” Hayward says. “Yoga, running, walking and biking are ways to move your body and get unstuck from doomscrolling.”

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