So you know those people who are TOTALLY INTO FITNESS?
They go for a six-mile run, then head straight to a yoga class. Or they lift before work and spin after work. And every weekend it’s either a hike or a bike ride. Or they’re on some kind of training schedule for a triathlon or something.
Whew. They wear me out. That is so not me. I have never been a fitness buff or considered myself to be an athlete of any kind.
As a child I took a few years of dance and played rec league softball, but once I got to eighth grade, marching band was the only form of physical activity I participated in outside of PE, and that wasn’t year-round.
(By the way, and I kid you not, my PE experience included bowling and horseshoes, so we weren’t exactly hitting it too hard.)
In college, I think I hit the gym maybe twice, because you know, freshman fifteen! But gah, I hated it. So walking back and forth to class was it.
So you may wonder how I got where I am today, teaching ten classes a week, having my yoga mat as a permanent living room fixture for my daily practice, occasionally agreeing to do a plank challenge “for fun,” and posting #flexfriday pics on Instagram.
Well, as happens to most of us when we reach our mid-20’s, I discovered that I couldn’t keep eating like a teenager without working out and still expect to fit in my pants. So naturally, I joined a gym.
But back then, I thought “working out” had to be cardio and weights - no variety, that was it. I suffered through the elliptical machine and pretended I knew how to use those weight machines or hold a dumbbell properly.
Did I enjoy it? No. Was it my idea of fun? Not at all. Did I start to like it more after I did it for a while? Nope. Did I at least start to see significant changes in my body? Sadly, no, but that’s probably because I didn’t like it enough to do it well or often.
And then one day, I braved my first yoga class at the gym, and everything changed. I actually...liked it! It was hard, but not so hard that it was frustrating.
Yoga made me feel strong, but also peaceful.
And while it definitely felt like I had worked my body, it didn’t feel like “working out,” a. k. a. “torture,” to me because I wasn’t sitting there counting reps or focusing on one stinking muscle to the point of fatigue or watching the minutes tick by slowly until I knew I had done enough.
Yoga just felt...right. And the more I did it, the more I loved it and kept wanting to do it more.
My friends, I think this is the secret to finding your fitness jam. I wholeheartedly believe that exercising SHOULD NOT FEEL LIKE TORTURE.
Bodies are meant to move, and there are so many different ways you can move your body! You just have to find the one that feels right.
And then your body will start to change, but it will not come by force, but by surprise because you are enjoying what you do.
When I get on my mat, it’s because I love the way my body and mind feel while I am doing yoga, not because today’s leg day, so let’s make those thighs a little less jiggly.
If you haven’t found your fitness jam yet, I want you to keep trying. There’s safety in numbers, so grab a friend and go try that Zumba class at the rec center. Check out a belly dancing DVD from the library.
Many fitness centers offer your first class free or very cheap intro offers for new students, so what have you got to lose?
And a funny thing happens once you get into your own fitness groove. At least for me, I’ve become more open and willing to try other types of fitness activities (gasp!). And sometimes...I actually have a good time!
Don’t get me wrong, yoga will always be my BFF and one true love. But I went to a spin class once, didn’t die, and thought it was pretty fun. Since I like to dance around the house, I also decided to try a dance-fitness class a friend was teaching, and I had such a good time!
But let’s not get carried away. Remember, I don’t consider myself a fitness buff. If it involves running or jumping, count me out. And I still get a nervous twitch just driving by the barre studio. (Holy Jesus, waterboarding has nothing on that place.) I have scary flashbacks about how much it hurt to breathe after that one Crossfit class.
And that’s okay. Those things were not my jam, but one of them might be yours. Lord knows, I’ve had plenty of people tell me they hate yoga. And while, yes, a little piece of me dies inside when I hear that, that’s okay, too.
One last bit of advice as you seek out your fitness jam - the instructor can make or break your fitness experience.
Don’t be scared to try something a second time if the instructor didn’t feel right to you the first time. (Yes, I’ve even taken yoga classes I did not enjoy, dare I say, hated.) And if you say you hate yoga but haven’t tried my class yet, I dare you to come.
If anyone can make you fall in love with yoga, I can!