Nicole Tsong will spend a lot of time in her new fitness column, Fit For Life, exploring how we choose to be active in Seattle, whether it's hiking, trying a new sport or jumping into CrossFit.

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NAME a girly sport, and I did it growing up. I dabbled in gymnastics and ballet, and was serious enough about ice skating that I woke up at 6 a.m. for years. In high school, I deemed those sports uncool and moved on to tennis and track. As an adult, I moved on again, returning to the semi-solitary: skate skiing, hiking, the gym.

I was active, even athletic, but an athlete? No. And, eventually, laziness set in. I blame the gym. I hated the elliptical and weights, but it felt like the only choice when the weather didn’t cooperate for outdoor adventures. When I moved to Seattle, I decided to start fresh in my fitness plan: I ditched the gym for a yoga studio.

I was concerned about my bold choice. Was yoga, even sweaty power yoga, going to be enough of a workout? Would I like it enough to justify doing it three times a week? Was I going to like doing anything for 90 minutes at a time?

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In 2011, I quit my job as a reporter at this newspaper to teach yoga.

Most of us know that being active helps us chill out. There’s some science about endorphins and all that but, to me, the proof is in my body. Yoga taught me that raw, physical effort is the fastest route to presence. A challenging yoga practice or a walk gets me out of my head. As soon as I take the time to hear my breath and notice my feet are on the ground or feel my leg muscles working, I calm down. Sanity takes over.

Yoga also ingrained in me the need to be active basically every day. It’s a better way of life. A quick midafternoon walk clears my head 10 times better than coffee. I’m more interested in new sports. I took up spinning recently to get ready to ride my bicycle this summer; there’s nothing like a hill climb to get my mind to focus.

Burning calories and developing a strong core are awesome side benefits.

Being present by being physical also has helped me be a better person. I am more aware of what matters to me in life. I pay attention to what other people say. I am more focused (mostly). I am way nicer to my parents and sister.

We live in the perfect city to be active. It’s a way of life, if you choose it. I’ll spend a lot of time in this column exploring how we choose to be active in Seattle, whether it’s hiking, trying a new sport or jumping into CrossFit.

We’ll spend some time talking about how to eat healthy, too.

I’m fired up to take some classes, come out a little bruised and sore, then write about it — all in the name of our collective fitness.

Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at Email: Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific NW staff photographer.

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