When I was in high school, I was so bad at sports that I was assigned Ping Pong as my PE class. For two semesters. Looking back now, I have to laugh, because I was equally as bad at Ping Pong as I was at every other thing I tried. Well, except for the semester we did an aerobics class in the smelly wrestling room. It wasn’t that I was any better at it than I was at anything else really, it’s just that I didn’t stink at it quite as much and I kind of enjoyed it. It was the first time I found PE to be even remotely fun. Go figure.
Fast forward a lot of years (like a lot of years) and I’ve outgrown that awkward stage of not being able to find something I like to do. Thank goodness. Instead, I’m at a phase in my life where I’m not afraid to try new routines, new exercises, and new experiences to find my exercise Zen. In fact, I think it’s so important that people find what they enjoy doing, that I’ve completely ditched prescribing specific types of cardio to my clients. I don’t really care how they get their heart rates up, I just want them to enjoy doing it (and, of course, be safe while doing it!).
I also assess, reassess, and reassess again – frequently – to make sure that they enjoy the things I’m asking them to do. Why? Because when you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re going to do it more often and make less excuses.
Think about it…if you hate running and someone tells you that the only way to get fit is to run, how long are you really going to stick with it? You may try it for a week or so, but when you start to get sore (because you will), and the weather is too rainy/too hot/too cold/too breezy (because it will be), you’re going to stop. You don’t stick with things you don’t have a connection to.
Finding an Exercise You LOVE
So, how do you find what you love to do? It’s simple really:
Start by writing down everything you hate doing.
Not a fan of stairs? Jot down stair climbing.
Prefer to workout on your own instead of in a group? Add group classes to the list.
Only run when something is chasing you? Make sure running goes down on that list too.
When you start writing down the things you don’t like doing, you open up the possibilities for new things to try. You become a discriminating exerciser and that’s a good thing. There’s no magic or instant answer to finding what you love to do. It’s about eliminating the “heck-no exercises” from the “I’m okay with doing that exercises” until you get to the “this is my favorite workout EVER exercises.”
Be bold. Be willing to try new things and really listen to your body and soul as you exercise. You’ll know pretty quickly into a workout whether it’s going to be one you’ll do again. Give yourself permission to keep trying new things until you look forward to getting up and working out.
But expect it to take a bit of time, because you, my friend, are a complicated creature and sometimes it takes a bit of experimenting to figure out what you’re going to fall in love with. And you deserve to fall in love with exercising.
Until then, just start doing the things you don’t hate. In the process, you’ll find the things you love. I pinky promise.