Small routines can have a big impact on your health and happiness. That is the firm belief of Dutch television producer and fitness guru Arie Boomsma. Curious to know which everyday routines he incorporates into his own life? We asked him all about the small yet powerful habits that help him navigate life’s opportunities and challenges—from his daily cold shower to his meditation practices.
You have a very busy life—you juggle being a television producer and presenter, writer, gym owner, father and husband. What are your ways to de-stress?
“If you’re in need of ways to ‘de-stress’, I think you’re already too late. Many people are always running after their hectic schedules, burning themselves out and then taking a vacation to restore their sense of calm or to release all that built-up stress. I try not to let it get to that point by sticking to the same daily routine. For me, that means working out every day, eating at regular times, and going to bed around the same time each night. I make sure that I spend 15 or 30 minutes in silence every day as I do breathing exercises or a meditation, and I maintain a fresh and varied diet. Also, I couple my workout regimen with a weekly massage to recover. Keeping to those same routines helps me build calm and clarity into my life."
Which daily routines do you practice? What are the oldest and newest ones in your life? And why are those everyday routines important to you?
“I truly am a sucker for routines. My morning routine is probably my oldest one. I usually wake up before the kids. I start the day with a cold shower, so that I instantly feel awake, alert and energetic. I then do a short meditation—five or ten minutes of silence. Generally, my morning meditation is quite simple: I count my breaths or I lengthen my exhalations.
Or I do a body scan meditation. Sometimes I like to use a meditation app, such as Headspace or the Rituals app. As for my newest routine, I’ve recently started getting a weekly massage. Once every month I also add a facial. These routines are both new to me. I incorporated them into my everyday life because I’ve noticed that I need more recovery and care now that I’m in my forties. That’s partly because I’ve gotten older—but perhaps even more because I have a pretty intense life, and that extra bit of attention really does a lot for me.”
You spend a lot of time working out in the gym. But what is your favourite mental workout, strengthening your soul rather than your muscles?
“I read a lot. That’s something I’ve done my whole life. I read less now that I have kids, but I make sure that I read at least one page each day. I read more pages on good days and during weekends and holidays, but one page a day is a good basis for me. In addition to reading, I meditate daily. For many people, meditation still has a bit of a flaky vibe to it. But for me, it’s mainly about being silent for a little while. It’s about listening to my body, becoming aware of my breath, sorting my thoughts. There are few things that can have a more profound and positive impact on your life—I would recommend everyone to meditate. You only really start noticing the effects of meditation after practicing it over a longer period of time.”
Taking good care of your body is important to you. You’re extremely dedicated to staying fit. That can’t just be about a shallow desire to look good. Why does taking care of your appearance matter to you?
“Your appearance is the reflection of how you exercise, eat and sleep. Maintaining a good appearance has never been a goal in itself to me. But I am convinced that the times we live in—in which we all demand so much of ourselves and there’s so much we want to do, see and experience—require us to pay attention to our body’s health. If you don’t, you’ll burn out—you have no energy left for your kids at the end of a workday, you develop pains in your body, or you get sick more often. Exercising, taking care of my body, gives me the energy to live my life to the fullest. And in addition to that, I love that working out comes with pushing boundaries, building yourself up and challenging yourself.”
When did you last experience a moment of small joy?
“This afternoon, when I had my daughter on my lap and I was reading to her from Plasman, a wonderful children’s book by Jaap Robben. For a little while, all that existed was the two of us and that story. It was a moment of complete togetherness. So calm. So perfect.”