Many people tell me they “hate” some form of exercise that they perform regularly. My confusion is why anyone opts to do something they detest on a regular basis. There are so many things in the world that we are compelled to do, I am not a fan of using my discretionary time to make myself miserable.
We’ve all been where we aren’t fond of the concept of a particular activity until we start and then it’s enjoyable. It can be difficult to embrace the idea of how fun a run will be when it requires leaving one’s warm bed in the wee hours of a cold morning. However, there are some individuals who truly dislike particular types of exercise and still make them a part of their standard fitness regimen. I don’t get that..
Once we get over the initial adjustment phase of a workout routine, we know whether we like it or not. It only makes sense to me to continue fitness activities that I enjoy and switch up the ones that are a soul-sucking drudgery. The mind and body are connected. Engaging in exercise that invigorates us is much more likely to yield benefits to overall well-being than adding another chore that we hate doing.
There are a multitude of ways to be physically active. At the risk of betraying my industry I must point out that lots of folks were really fit in the past without ever stepping into a health club. I really think part of the reason why folks slog away on treadmills and don’t see benefit is because their mind and spirit aren’t on board with what their body has going on. Our society has gotten so busy that it’s simple just to go to a group exercise class or get on a cardio machine after work. However, that may not actually be what works best for your body.
I am a proponent of mindful movement. That’s why I really enjoy Bikram yoga. I go into a hot, humid room and do my best to stretch, balance and lift various parts of my body without falling over too many times. It is the epitome of mindful exercise. Just to get through the 90 minutes, I have to focus on breathing, alignment and noticing what all my muscles are doing. For me, it is the perfect combination of releasing my mind and being very aware of my body.
Practicing body awareness during exercise makes me more conscious of proper posture and muscle engagement when I am outside my workouts. I engage my core when I am walking. I sit up straight in front of the computer screen. I generally avoid undoing all the good work from my time exercising.
There are definitely times when workouts are an outlet to be mindless. We just want to move and sweat and not think. There is a place for that. As a rule though, I encourage us all to be more intentional and mindful when we engage in fitness activities. Find something that gets your heart racing because you enjoy it while it builds cardiovascular strength. Take note of how your body parts interact with each other and the surroundings.
Ride a bike. Go for a hike. Take a dance class. Play with a hula hoop. Maybe just switch up the equipment you use at the gym. As with most worthy endeavors, it may require some extra effort on the front end to discover the exercises that serve mind, body and spirit. However, I think that’s the whole point.
Did you enjoy this article? If you would like help learning to create the space to be mindful, please visit my website, Essence of Strength, where you can request a sample coaching conversation.