From hula-hoops and jazzercise to Billy Blanks Tae Bo, spinning, Zumba, Pilates, and Crossfit. Lord knows, exercise trends come and go.
We know the research, we’ve seen the headlines: exercise is good for us.
But just the thought of an “exercise routine” or adding one more thing to your day can be intimidating and overwhelming.
I’m not sure humans were made to do repetition after repetition of push-ups, squats, thrusters, etc. I’m not sure we were meant to spend hours in a building, on a machine, like a hamster on a wheel.
That being said, with full transparency, I’ve been a slave to exercise, and to this day there are still routines I do at the gym in the name of efficiency.
However, my outlook on exercise and movement has totally changed over the last couple of years. The things I do now (like lunges and squats), I do because they allow me to do the things I love, like trail running and mountain biking, more comfortably.
When I was a kid, I was constantly on the go. Being outside was my Nirvana. Making obstacle courses, riding bikes, playing ball, rollerblading. If it involved movement, I was doing it.
There have been times in my life where my love of movement crossed the lines from healthy to exercise-obsessed. As a college tennis player, I was introduced to training routines, and never one to half-ass it, I full-assed it, and then some. Exercise became an obsession and a necessity.
To break the cycle of exercise obsession, I consciously took several months off when I was 24. I didn’t lose my mind, I didn’t lose all of my natural muscle tone, I didn't gain weight, and most importantly, my worth as a human being didn't change.
It was both reassuring and empowering, and caused me to question my relationship with movement and exercise.
How could I get back to a place of joy and freedom while moving? How could I get rid of Daft Punk's Harder, Faster, Better, Stronger mantra that was in my head?
My motivations for exercise are something that I am continuously checking myself on.
How do you check your mindset for health?
When I notice myself feeling anxious because I won’t be able to work out - I know it is time to take some time off.
When I think about exercising despite being sick or exhausted- it's time to take time off.
When all I want to do is run to get rid of a negative feeling or thought in my head - I challenge myself to do the opposite, and stick with the negativity. It passes. As much as I want to run, bike, or push, I won’t. If anything, I’ll walk my dog (she’s not very quick).
What is difficult about this process is keeping the balance between movement and exercise, paying attention to the moment where movement crosses into exercise.
Movement is freeing. We were born to move, it's how we've survived as a specied for so long. Exercise can be shackling and restrictive. Don't get me wrong, exercise does incredible things - like spawn cell regeneration, lower stress level, and reduces our risks for all sorts of diseases.
What I am arguing for is a paradigm shift. Shifting our mindset from the "have to" of exercise to the "want to" of movement.
When you were a kid, do you remember what a drag it was when your mom called you in from playing to eat dinner? All you wanted to do was stay out and play. That play involved movement.
Movement is empowering. Movement is beautiful and connects us to that childlike part of ourselves. That old, human part that was born to move.
For me, my favorite ways to move still include trail running or mountain biking, but I’ve come to find the beauty in slowing down. I try to move at least 30 minutes a day. Instead of doing a hard 30-minute run, I will count 30 minutes doing non-strenuous, yoga poses, or walking my dog, or an easy bike ride.
I’ve found a beautiful peace in letting go of exercise and embracing movement. Want to join me in making the shift?
Here are some ideas for adding a little movement to your day. Take what you like, and leave the rest. This is all about what feels good for your body and spirit.
Ideas for Movement:
Climbing on things
Adult Kickball / Social Sports
Interactive video games like “Just Dance”
Walking your dog
Doing yard work
Cleaning the house (it counts!)
Shopping (not online)
Playing with your kids on the playground
Playing with kids in general- they are exhausting, and always moving!
Break out the old rollerblades
Leisurely bike ride
So do something that connects you to what you loved to do as a kid. Play tag, walk around outside barefoot, get down and shake that ass.
Move how you like to move, move in a way that feels good.