Exercise is something that many people consider to be a chore. They dread going to the gym and oftentimes exercise routines end before they even begin. I have had many conversations with friends and family over the past several years that revolve around the idea that they want to get into shape, but view exercise as some kind of laborious task. If exercise feels like a chore, then you will never want to do it. No one gets excited about washing the dishes or mopping the floors, so if you view exercise in the same way it will be hard to ever motivate yourself to stick with it. You need to find an activity makes it fun for you. Finding an activity that makes fitness enjoyable is the only way to get yourself started with a routine that you will truly want to stick with.
I was never athletic. I hated playing sports and dreaded gym class. Nevertheless, toward the end of college I found that I was unhappy with the way I felt and looked and decided that I needed to do something about it. A brand new gym opened up about a mile from my house and so I went down there and joined.
At first I would go to the gym two to three times per week and just spend about thirty minutes or so on the elliptical. There was nothing fun about it. I plodded away on that machine, staring at the minutes on the display, waiting for it to reach that thirty-minute mark so I could get the heck out of there. Looking for a distraction from my boredom, I started to watch the people taking classes in the room next door. It looked like a lot more fun than what I was doing, but I felt intimidated. For several weeks I watched, trying to work up the courage to break free from the shackles of my boring but safe elliptical.
Finally, one day I walked into the gym, took a look at the class schedule and decided to try the kickboxing class that was starting in just a few minutes. I entered the room, full of strangers and stood near the back so I could make a quick escape if I needed to. The instructor came in, turned on the music and the room came alive with energy. It was a much harder workout than I was used to, but it was actually fun! Instead of watching the clock, I found that the hour flew by. I came back the next week and then started to add more classes into my repertoire. I took spinning, and total body conditioning, and Pilates and found that exercise could actually be fun! It was social, made me feel good, and also helped me to, for the first time in my life, actually be in shape. I was feeling better, physically and mentally and I actually looked forward to going to my regular classes each week. In due time I also got into cycling, running, triathlon and the rest is history.
So, if you are going to the gym and running on the treadmill and hate it, then stop and find something you enjoy. Try running outside instead, try swimming or hiking or Zumba or whatever seems fun to you. I think some people believe that if a class or activity is fun then it can’t truly be exercise, but that is just not true. You may love to jump around and dance to the music and if you come out sweating and feeling happy, then you may have successfully found the exercise that will keep you coming back for more.
I read a statistic the other day that said 80% of Americans suffer from chronic injury and illness due to lack of physical activity. 80% is huge! So many people fail to understand that fitness has to be a part of your life forever in order to have a real and lasting impact on your health and well-being. How many people do you know who pay for monthly gym memberships and hardly ever use them? Gyms love these people. They get their money and they don’t have to deal with the extra wear and tear on their equipment. Going to the gym for a few weeks and then not going back again for a few months will not really help you. Find a way to make it fun. Find a way to make it a part of your life. Take it from someone who made excuses for years not to exercise, finding the fun in fitness will help you in countless ways today and in the future.