Your Recovery Plan
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Breakups suck. If you've never been through one, count yourself lucky and embrace your virgin heart. If you have, well, we feel your pain. But the best part about breakups (because there is an upside, we promise) is that you are suddenly gifted with an excuse to #treatyoself. That can come in the form of ice cream/Netflix couch marathons or a good, hard, Kim K-level ugly cry. Or maybe you just need to eat all the pizza you want, because sometimes that's the best way to "pizza" your heart back together (sorry, we had to).
But once you're passed the wine-and-rom-coms stage, there comes a time to get your shit together, take ownership of your life, and create something amazing to fill this new open space in your life. The best way to fill it? New muscles, hours at the gym, and new gym friends. (After all, exercise has a whole slew of mental health benefits—and that doesn't even include the red-hot revenge body you're sure to get.)
These workouts are perfect for pushing past your emotional discomfort, and creating physical discomfort instead. We asked a crew of trainers and instructors from studios around New York exactly why their type of workout is kickass for kicking heartbreak's ass. Crush each of these, and we bet you'll be feeling more badass than broken-hearted.
Photo: Corbis Images
Reconnect with Yourself: Yoga
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Yoga is all about getting zen and finding your center—which can really help when that heart hole deep in your core is what hurts the most. Bhakti yoga, a more devotional and traditional form, is specifically good for getting over a breakup, says yoga instructor Heidi Kristoffer. Why?
First, Kristoffer says, we store emotional baggage in our hips, so a yoga practice with hip opening poses allows the release of all of that excess garbage that you don't need to (but usually try to) hold on to.
A good yoga class or teacher reminds you that you are enough: as you are, without anything or anyone else. It's a huge help to those who feel incomplete without a partner that they are complete and enough as is.
Kristoffer also says arm balances in yoga show you that you are strong enough to hold yourself up with your own two hands. You don't need anyone else!
And, of course, yoga brings you into the present moment. When you're in the here and now, you aren't dwelling on the past or anticipating the future—and that's major weight off some people's chests after a breakup!
Each of these will help on their own, but "put them all together in one class, and it is way better (and cheaper) than therapy, and a whole lot less detrimental than downing a pint of iced cream or half a dozen tequila shots!" she says. (Try this restorative yoga flow from Kristoffer herself.)
Photo: Crobis Images
Feel Super Sexy: Pole Dancing
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You know how turning on some Beyoncé can transform your blah, downer mood into insane confidence? Consider pole to be the workout equivalent.
"It's really easy to get obsessive (hello, Facebook stalking...) and drown in your own grief during a break-up," says Kelly McLaughlin, an instructor at Body & Pole. "It can be hard to be kind to yourself. Challenging your brain and body with learning something like pole doesn't leave much space to have another focus. A pole class is the perfect 'time-out' to gift yourself that leaves you feeling refreshed, accomplished and like a f*cking warrior! Who doesn't want that kind of conversation with yourself?"
Photo: Courtesy Body + Pole
Take Your Mind Off It: HIIT
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HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is all about going as hard as possible. "It gives you a sense of empowerment," says Julia Avery, an instructor at HIIT studio The Fhitting Room. "Knowing that you conquered a really tough workout leaves you feeling like you can take on anything that comes your way, including your ex. And when you're in the middle of an intense workout, your mind is focused. You don't have time to feel upset about your breakup because you're completely wrapped up in the intensity of the workout. The endorphins that you're left with afterwards help you stay in a good mood long after the workout is over."
Bonus: Avery says the classes are a great way to meet like-minded people (oh, hey, hot fit guys). (If you can't make it to a HIIT class to meet hot guys, we have the perfect sub: our 30-Day Hot-Guy HIIT Challenge.)
Photo: Corbis Images
Distance Yourself: Running
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While yoga, pole, and HIIT are usually all about the class atmosphere, running does quite the opposite. "While it seems counterintuitive, something about the solitude of running is perfect," says Joe Holder, S10 Training and NRC/NTC Coach. "You get to know yourself a bit better during these runs and have the time to work through your own mental barriers. Running is like 'dating yourself'. During a relationship people often lose themselves in the situation; running presents the opportunity to find yourself again, get in shape, and you can even imagine stomping on your ex's face (if it ended badly, that is!)."
But you don't always have to fly solo: "If you're the type that can run with a friend, use them as an outlet (if they're OK with your talking!)," he suggests. "The perfect playlist will also for sure boost your mood and is cathartic. Lastly, and I love doing this if it's a beautiful day, stop at the end of the run and find a seat to take it all in. Review not just how the run went but how you're feeling overall. A little mindfulness goes a long way!"
Photo: Corbis Images
Punch It Out: Boxing
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Boxing is an obvious choice, because, punching. But also, because "it challenges you mentally and physically, and you have to focus on your body movements at all times, there's no room for your mind to wander off into thinking about your horrid ex," says Julie "Jaws" Nelson, boxing instructor at Shadowbox. "Other great benefits include how empowered you feel during and after the workout, the 'revenge body' it will give you, and—obviously—getting to hit things."
Here's an extra pro tip from Jaws: Use your breath with each punch. If you exhale every time you punch, not only will you be able to create a lot more power, but you'll also be releasing so much pent up emotion.
Photo: Courtesy of Shadowbox
Fuel Your Fire: Cycling
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"Cycling is the perfect therapy for a breakup because mentally you can turn off and physically you can turn on," says Natalie Gargiulo, cycling instructor at SWERVE Fitness. "The physical release from pushing against heavy resistance and flushing it out with speed is enough to bring anyone to tears. There is nothing more satisfying, cathartic, and therapeutic than listening to music in a dark room surrounded by strangers and friends, working yourself so hard you can't tell if you're mascara is ruined from sweat or from tears." Amen, girl.
And if that's not enough, fellow SWERVE instructor Seth Maynard adds why he thinks it's perfect for personal therapy: first, sitting alone and feeling alone is THE WORST. Being around others and being active is key, and on the upside you also don't have to talk about it! And second, a common feeling after a breakup is failure—that you tried really hard for something you wanted, and it didn't work out. After a cycling class you have a well-deserved sense of accomplishment.
If this isn't enough to get you to go cycle, Maynard doesn't hesitate to quote Miss Elle Woods herself: "'Working out releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don't go around shooting their husbands!' Or in this case, your ex." Consider us sold.
Photo: Corbis Images