When was the last time you went to a fitness class and it felt good? Hopefully, the answer is, “Yesterday, I love the way my (insert class name here) feels every week.” I hope you thought that. I’m with you. I love to move. Throw me in almost any type of class and I’m going to enjoy it. I’m happy in motion, probably to a fault. But even when it feels good to move, it’s not always fun.
There is a free, silliness to movement that we tend not to hold onto as we age. It’s been drilled out of us. I watch my friend’s kids giggling over summersaults. They will spin in circles until they collapse in a heap. I’m not advocating circle spinning. The thought of doing that now makes me nauseous. The last time a rolled down a hill (about a decade ago) I learned that it is more torture than fun in my body. Things change. But kids get so much joy out of motion, and half the moves are concocted, on a whim and beyond goofy looking. They don’t care.
I saw the video of this little girl, who was clearly enjoying herself dancing to a different beat than the rest of her dance class. As a kid when I took dance, I was held back by doing it right. I was so worried about getting the moves perfect, I wasn’t good and eventually that made me stop liking it. I loved to swing dance, until I took lessons and realized I really didn’t know how. Dance lessons discouraged. That’s my issue, but there is a message there about forcing ourselves to conform to specific movement protocols. This little girl is so happy, and she makes us happy watching her. She’d be fun to watch if she was alone on stage. It’s not just because she’s coming up with her own moves. For a dance performance to be good, doing it right matters. We want to see dancers in sync who know what they are doing, but sometimes, as amateurs, we can get too caught up in how we are “supposed” to move. Form is important, especially for safety, but sometimes it can suck the fun out of everything.
I presume there are a number of people taking various exercise classes because they have to in order to be healthy not because they want to. I’m less worried about the people in a class who want to be there and love going because movement feels so good. I want the people it doesn’t feel good to or who never go to a class to find a movement that elates them—a lofty goal, perhaps. My own mother is laughing as she reads the words elation and movement in the same sentence. I want everyone to feel like that little girl in that dance recital.
It doesn’t have to be dancing to the beat of your own drum, although it could be, especially in the privacy of your own home. Instead, it could be getting outside for a walk or a hike. It could be hula hooping or playing a game of tag with kids, sledding, making a snow angel. Some kind of movement that inspires us to laughter is important. Movement should bring joy. It shouldn’t be torture. And it doesn’t need to be torture to be healthy or help us meet our goals and make progress. No pain, no gain is a fallacy, and life it way to short not to have a blast.
So now when you think of it like this, when was the last time you moved in a way that made you laugh either at yourself or because you were having so much fun you couldn’t keep from smiling? I hope it was recently. I get that out of movement a lot, but I play with my body and motion nonstop, and I’m often brought to laughter typically because I get myself in a position I’m not always sure I can get out of.
I’m not asking as a hypothetical—please let me know the last time movement made you feel fantastic. Share in the comments or email me. If it’s been a while, maybe it’s time to pull out your old game of twister.
And here’s your challenge for today. Make up a ten minute workout. Just do whatever move comes to mind, the sillier and more laughter producing the better. Do nothing that hurts. You can skip, wiggle, twist, roll around on the floor. Nothing you come up with is wrong, unless it hurts in a bad way. Remember this is meant to be fun and silly. If you have kids in your house, get them involved. Can you mimic each other’s goofy moves or balance in a more awkward pose? Kids are a great excuse for weird behavior that’s totally acceptable. It’s one of my favorite aspects of playing with the kids in my life. Let me know what you come up with and have fun moving.