Growing up, I was one of those kids who deeply disliked gym class. I was small for my age and not naturally athletic in the least. While it was good for me to have the chance to discover that organized team sports weren’t my thing, it took years for me to figure out what kinds of exercise I actually did enjoy.
One of my biggest reasons for disliking gym class back then was that I find many vigorous forms of exercise to be downright painful. Jogging hurts my joints. Running up and down a field over and over again while trying to catch or kick a ball makes my lungs feel like they’re on fire. Smacking a hard volleyball against my arms is pretty uncomfortable as well. I’m not a masochist, so the idea of doing any of this stuff routinely for the sake of my health – much less for fun – was and is completely unappealing.
(This isn’t to say that you should avoid any or all of these activities! They may work beautifully for you regardless of what my heart, lungs, and joints think of them).
Moderate exercise is a different story for me. I’ll get a little winded on a brisk walk, when weightlifting, or while dancing, but their brief discomforts never tip the scale into actual pain. Not having to dread all of that pain has gone a long way to helping me actually enjoy being active.
One of the first workouts I started a few years ago was incredibly simple. I’d walk in place on top of a yoga mat while watching TV shows. It was something I chose because I really enjoy outdoor walks but couldn’t do one of those that day due to some terrible weather we were having in Toronto.
The only rule I set for myself was that I couldn’t stop moving until the show had ended. This is still something I fall back on when I’m feeling totally unmotivated to do anything physical at all. It’s easy to get so involved in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that I forget I’m moving at all. Sometimes I even decide to keep walking in place for just one more episode so that I can find out what happens to the characters next.
Trying a lot of different types of workouts has helped me to figure out what I actually like. A few years ago I never would have guessed that I’d love weightlifting, but it’s turned out to be a wonderful fit for me. There’s something immensely satisfying about being able to lift bags, furniture, and other objects that were once too heavy for you. It’s also fascinating to see your body slowly change its shape as a result of these kinds of workouts.
I’m planning to give yoga a try in the next week or two. I have no idea if I’ll love it or hate it, but I can’t wait to find out either way!
There are times when I enjoy the same routine so much that I keep doing it for weeks on end without making any adjustments at all. Would I be more physically fit if I challenged myself as soon as my current workouts are no longer quite so challenging? Yes, but that isn’t the only reason why I exercise. I’m not in this to become a body builder or a bikini model. I simply want to take good care of my body, and sometimes that means sticking to the same old stuff for a while until I’m emotionally and physically ready to try something new.
Completely cutting out any form of competition has helped me to learn to love exercise as well. Dividing people into winners and losers instantly kills my desire to play whatever game it is that’s been thrown together. The only people I exercise with are the ones who agree that whatever we’re doing is all strictly for fun. There’s no trash talking or keeping score when I’m involved, although I don’t have a problem watching other people be playfully competitive with each other if they enjoy that sort of thing!
What kinds of exercise do you like? What new kinds of exercise are you hoping to try in the near future? If you weren’t always a fan of it, how did you change your mind?