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A Pageant Queen's 5 W's of Wellness

Fitness Freaks! Exercise Enthusiasts! Wellness Warriors! (Do you have any other things I can yell?) My patients and students tell me I get a little too excited about health and wellness, but let's just say, those are my people. I have found my "tribe" and what excites me. I need to tell you my 5 W's of Wellness, but first thing's first: I know health can be overwhelming for a lot of people, but

(shhh... don’t tell anyone)

it really can be quite simple!

As a group fitness instructor, a physical therapist assistant, educator, and Mrs. Iowa USA Universal 2016, health and well-being are my top priorities. But, there are times when even this self-proclaimed fitness fanatic needs to get back to the basics. Remember in Kindergarten, when you had to learn the 5 W's of a story? Who, what, when, where, and why? Well, I can't give you snacks and a nap time (do it anyway...) but you and I can DEFINITELY have story time right now!

A Pageant Queen's 5 W's of Wellness


You … yes you! Old, young, injured, healthy... movement is for you, in some way or another. Often, my patients undergo surgery and think they'll never be able to ride a bike again. Some patients have had years of chronic pain, and picture exercise as impossible. With proper tools and training, they turn impossible into achievable.  We get in the pool and they can walk! We strength train, and they can ride! Exercise isn't just for jocks wanting to get sculpted; it's for anyone and everyone who's ever moved a muscle. No six pack? Who cares. You should be PROUD of your body and LOVE everything it can do for you (walking and breathing... those are nice, right?). I've been guilty (and I'm not alone) of thinking, "My knee hurts, if I can’t go for a run, it's not worth exercising at all.” The truth is, any movement is better than no movement (in most cases), and even if you can't run a marathon, you'll be a little healthier tomorrow by going for a walk today. One of my favorite quotes is from Joyce Meyer, "I'm not where I want to be, but thank goodness I'm not where I was yesterday!"


What exactly counts as exercise anyway? In my world, everything is an exercise. Honestly, if we spend an hour in our cars or at our desks, our hamstrings and hip flexors have spent the last hour being shortened and contracted. All the "desk-jockeys" in the world are basically doing hamstring curls for 8 hours a day! No wonder these muscles get so tight, causing pain and posture slumps. It's important for us to reverse the goofy postures we hold our bodies in for a long time (or repetitively) throughout the day. Do you sit at a desk on the regular? Try setting a timer for every 60 minutes to get up and stretch your hamstrings and your hip flexors before getting back to business. So yes, stretching, walking, running, jumping... it all counts. Movement = exercise. Just remember to stay balanced! 


You don't have to have a gym membership to stay fit, and move well. The world is your oyster (and your gym)! Here are easy times to sneak in a little extra movement ANYWHERE:

  • Park at the end of the parking lot when you go shopping. The extra steps will certainly add up!
  • Take commercial (exercise) breaks. Because your body and your brain need a short break from The Real Housewives of *wherever*. During the commercial breaks of your favorite show: stretch, work your core, or fix your posture.
  • Near a wall with 30 seconds to spare? (Yes! All the time!) Do 10 wall push-ups! Easy. Peasy.

You don't have to be fancy, just a little creative!


Anytime it fits into your schedule is GREAT! There are many opinions, and even research that illustrates exercising in the morning is best. There's just as much research saying the evening, or before a meal is best. Don't get wrapped up in the when, as long as you can make it happen. All too often, I hear my clients and patients say, “I overslept and since that's the best time to exercise I just had to skip today.” Personally, I believe the best time to exercise is anytime you can and WILL fit it into your schedule. 


Why not? We all know exercise helps manage many health related conditions, but exercise is also vital to keep a high quality of life. Regular exercise can prevent future injuries and control chronic pain. Yes, yes... there is (of course) a time to rest. That's just as important as the exercise itself. When you aren’t quite sure if you should go for a walk or if a rest day is in order, ask yourself, “What's my body trying to tell me?” Often your body begins by whispering to you, “Hey lady, I’m pretty sore from that new ballet barre class you did … take it easy today.” If we don’t pay attention, we're more susceptible to injury (or couch potato syndrome)! 

Want an easier rule to abide by?

Strive for the “Three C’s” -- Commitment, Convenience, and Consistency:

Commit to your health success, ensuring your fitness plan is convenient for your lifestyle, and set consistent goals with measurable growth will keep yourself on track. 

My final piece of wellness advice (sorry I ran out of W's!) - Live … Learn … Survive.

As Mrs. Iowa I get the super cool opportunity to talk about things that are important to me. Even things that will impact those around me, as well as challenge others to be the best version of themselves. My platform is Live … Learn … Survive.

Live each day to the fullest … Learn to make a difference … Survive with grace and diligence.

I can’t wait for you to join me in living each day to the fullest … Learning to make a difference in our world … Surviving (and thriving) with grace and diligence with these last few tips:

  • Move a little more today - Swap the elevator for stairs. Stretch during the commercial break of your favorite show. Add a few extra minutes to your exercise routine.  Remember, every little bit adds up!
  • Take a moment for YOU - Give yourself 5 minutes of quiet. Take time to breathe. Soak in a relaxing bath. Remember, recharge your battery to ensure your overall health!
  • Encourage someone - Words are extremely powerful, use yours for something positive today! 
  • Take a moment to think about nutrition - You know all those things you've heard a million times? DO THEM! Drink water! Eat vegetables! Pack your lunch the night before! Are you getting what you need through food, or do you need a little boost?
  • Smile - Smiling is my favorite (Elf, anyone?) and is a universal language and I promise you'll feel better!
  • Go for the goal - Goals are vital to any wellness plan. Measurable goals and trackable success make your wellness journey much more enjoyable (and successful). However, don't be afraid to take a day off when you need it ... remember health is lifestyle and a journey, not a split-second change.


Feryl York is a physical therapist assistant at Iowa City Physical Therapy and serves as adjunct faculty at Kirkwood Community College. She is active in the health and fitness community by educating The Corridor as KCRG’s Fitness Expert along with teaching a variety of group exercise classes at The M.A.C. in Cedar Rapids. Feryl is honored to be Mrs. Iowa USA Universal 2016! Together with her husband Ryan, their primary focus is philanthropy for cancer research.

Calla Kleene
Calla Kleene