Somehow in the United States we’ve grown up believing that exercise needs to be hard and painful or there is no purpose. We drill ourselves into more reps and faster sets forgoing any sense of quality of movement. We all know the motto: No Pain, No Gain. And we wonder why children in the states search for doctor’s notes to escape gym class. What sane person seeks out pain? Yet so many of us do when it comes to our fitness routine (myself included sometimes). Very few people proclaim, “Exercise is fun!”
It’s sad because most children naturally enjoy playful movement. They run around, flop on the couch, jump on the bed, squirm, and play tag at the bus stop. They wiggle and roll, until we make all movement formulaic and stick them in desks for prolonged periods of time.
Whether you love moving or drone at the idea of it, take a moment to answer the following questions:
When was the last time your exercise routine was playful and fun?
Do you show up to class because you look forward to seeing friends, working out, or both?
Do you dislike movement, but go because you know it’s good for you?
Why do you exercise?
What Are Your Goals?
Why we exercise can change over time, but the reason matters when you are picking a workout. Maybe you are a college athlete. Maybe you are a grandma who desires to be healthy and mobile into your nineties. Perhaps you want to be able to do a pull up or a push up just to say you can. Maybe you want to run in a local race, or go kayaking with your kids. What motivates you to move can be endless.
For the crazy-tough goal setters, if you are pushing toward a goal because you enjoy the process, that’s fantastic. Go for it and set any movement goal that inspires you. Also, consider the moves that aren’t intense that will help support your reaching that goal.
If, on the other hand, you are forcing a goal upon yourself because you think there is a beneficial health gain, but don’t enjoy the process, stop and find a different activity. Exercise and movement does not and should not have to hurt or be miserable for results. Movement can and should feel good even when it’s good for us.
Most of us are not going to be Olympians or NBA stars. We don’t need to train like we are unless we enjoy the process. Plus, something to remember, most athletes and professional dancers are or have had a pretty serious injury at some point. That level of training is not wonderful on the body. It is extreme. Worth it if you love it. Worth it if you can get paid an amount that makes the risk something to consider. But not necessary for our health.
Understand Change Takes Time
The reality is that for any goal you want to reach, most change takes time. Perhaps like me you want to do a handstand. I’ve been practicing for about two years and I’m still not there. There is progress, but I can’t kick up into one yet. If I was younger, more flexible, or less fearful and cautious I might be preceding faster. But making changes in our body is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight.
If you are going to set a goal and commit to getting there it might as well be something you enjoy experimenting with.
Do you want to run because it helps you burn of the stressors of the day and it feels good to be moving?
Do you love Pilates because the movement, while challenging, doesn’t hurt?
Do you like to walk because you enjoy time outdoors?
When you swim, do you like the way the water feels over your body or the meditative trace you wind up in?
Are you an ultra athlete because you take pride in extreme goals?
I really would like to hear your movement of choice and why you pick that. And if you don’t like what you’re doing, I’d be interested in how you re-evaluate that or find a movement you love. Let me know if we can help!
What is your purpose? Click here.
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