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An American working out in Paris

I first met Megan in my office as a patient looking for Active Release Technique and yoga. We broke up scar tissue, and got her strong and flexible doing yoga in the office. She was so inspired by the alignment and the yoga teachings that she went on to complete her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training certification. She was inspired by anatomy and how the body moves that she quit her corporate job and moved to to Paris to attend Chiropractic School.

She shares the subtle cultural differences around working out as an American in Paris.

A two year stint in New York was enough time for me to acquire the grit and competitive energy motivating the city. Even beyond the hedge fund culture that dominated my day, I sped around the city gorging myself on the most extreme and innovative social, cultural and physical activities I could find. The most challenging fitness classes? I found them. Endurance and obstacle races? I traveled out of town for them. was my go-to source for whatever fitness trends had eluded my radar; I needed to attempt them all.

NYC Flatiron traffic

As another two year period comes to pass, this time in Paris, I reflect on how the profoundly different cultures have affected my workout style. Parisians take pride in a sound work-life balance: long dinners, leisurely vacations, and a generally slower pace percolate the fitness culture here. It’s astonishing to me how the culture of a city has such a profound impact on how I approach my personal health. Paris has encouraged me to embrace restorative yoga classes; now I save my handstand practice for my personal practice. I embrace more leisurely activites, which allow me to absorb the beauty of this city – and life – with greater, deliberate presence and a changed perception of time. Where competition fed my soul in New York, recuperation does this for me in France. Seven workouts have been replaced with four or five, and in lieu of a spin class, I ride my bike around the city. And guess what? I have more energy and fewer injuries.Paris Eiffel Tower

New Yorkers hunger after adrenaline-releasing experiences, so it makes sense that their endorphins are frequently on over-drive. I have learned and come to celebrate that a workout routine that emphasizes healing and rest is a worthy experience, one that provides an equal challenge in the lesson of restraint. Rest and repose allow the body to heal… and perhaps enable us to tune in a bit more.


-Megan Clayton