Exercise For People Who Hate It

Guys, I know.  For most of us, the health recommendation to “move your body” is a challenging one.  It’s hard to motivate yourself to do anything except veg out on the couch and watch 10 episodes of the X-Files on Netflix (just me?) after a long day at work.  Especially with all the other stuff you have to do…. Laundry, cook dinner, take care of kids/animals.  By the end of it, that loosely scheduled, vague ‘workout’ you had planned went totally out the window. 

I’ve dabbled in exercise most of my life.  As a kid, I played rec soccer and rode horses, but I was never super serious or competitive with either.  I just had fun doing it.  I never really sought out exercise on my own, it was just a pleasant side effect of riding my bike from morning till night with my best friend Meg, playing in the yard with my sisters, and swimming everyday from June till September in the pool.

But then suddenly, you grow up a little and it feels tough to fit movement in.  High school came and my relationship with my body was pretty skewed for a number of reasons.  Any attempts at ‘fitness’ were usually trying to impress someone else, or to make me feel better about myself and my appearance (which never really helped).  I joined the track team at the urging of an old boyfriend, and I stuck with it for the duration of the 4 years for that reason only.  I sort of hated it, because I was never really good at it, which only continued to fuel the self-loathing that was going on in my angsty teenage years.

Also I hate being bad at stuff.  #CapricornProblems

When I think back to the times I enjoyed movement in high school, it was really being on the Colorguard that made that happen.  Don’t be fooled, spinning a flag while jazz running 50 yards down a football field and simultaneously trying not to get knocked over by a tuba is hard work.  And doing that almost everyday year round, between the constant choreography practice and the skill building involved in spinning rifle and saber, I was exhausted by the end of every rehearsal.

Part of what kept me coming back there and actually loving it was that I had a built in community.  A group of people who were all there with me, everyday, doing the same exact thing.  We commiserated when shit got tough and when it felt like our arms might fall off.  We laughed together when we pulled dumb pranks on each other (word to the wise, never fall asleep on the bus... your shoelaces will surely be tied together while you're snoozing).  We celebrated successes together. 

I think this holds true to any sort of fitness regiment.  When you have a community of people around you, supporting you, and going through it with you, it makes it WAY easier to actually show up and do the work.  In this case, we depended on each other to make it all happen, but I’ve found it really helpful to just have a consistent group of people who you know will ask “Where’s Cait?” if you don’t show up.

The other thing that keeps me coming back to various workouts in my life is having a goal.  In colorguard, the goal was not looking like total fools on the football field.  What keeps me coming back to hot yoga is my goal of doing an unassisted headstand.  I recently picked up a Tumbling and Acrobatics class because secretly, I want to be an acrobat.  Having those goals in the back of my mind helps me get my grumbling, cranky self out of bed, into my workout clothes and out the door.  And really, that’s the hardest part.

Speaking of Tumbling Class, another thing that got me back to class was that I paid for it!  I’m all about affordable and free self-care, but for some folks, having the backing of cold hard cash can really get you there.  In this case, it was a short run of classes that were already paid for, so it was easy to know that if I skipped one I was wasting $30. 

The main source of my movement these days is walking the dog, which is really great because it also allows me to multitask!  I usually call my friends or family while I’m on the walk, or will listen to a lecture or a book.  It’s a win-win-win.  I get some movement, Grover dog gets some movement, and I get to catch up with my people. 

I’ll leave you with this.  As much as I whine about working out, I never feel as good as I do after I’m finished.  For real, I’m not just saying that.  There are many times during Hot Vinyasa that I curse myself, curse the hot ass room and curse the teacher for making me do these insane things while I sweat so hard I can barely keep my footing on my mat, but I feel AMAZING after.  I’m always on cloud 9 walking home, albeit pretty smelly.

Tell me friends, how do you motivate yourself to move?