What do you think of when you hear the word exercise? If you are like most people, you probably think of running, jogging, push-ups, sit-ups, and maybe even an old, fat P.E. teacher that made you want to cry. Exercise gets a bad rep, unjustly so! There are plenty of options out there that can kick traditional exercise to the side and introduce a fun, engaging way to workout.
Before Jack Lalanne pioneered the modern-day workout program, formal exercise was reserved for athletes and those in competition. However, even those athletes did not train like we do today as they stayed far away from lifting weights for fear of becoming bulky and slow. The spandex laden eighties, with the likes of Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons, took formal exercise into rapid popularity. Unfortunately, like many things in our society, fitness has grown too serious and boring. Somewhere along the lines people forgot that it can be fun to get in shape! Cue the Pat Benatar!
Your workouts don’t have to consist so of going to the gym and torturing yourself with hellish sessions on the treadmill. It doesn’t even require entering the testosterone dripping, wild-animal playpen that is the weight room. This is a major reason why people do not stay consistent with their exercise routines or why they never get it started to begin with. The environment at the gym can be extremely intimidating, especially for those in the most need of exercise. They think they will be judged or that the outcome is not worth the boring, painful process.
Fortunately, the power of the internet has led to a rekindling of the idea that fitness should not be limited to dumbbells and tears. There are many exercise programs available that started with one person and a couple of friends trying something new. For example, The November Project started with a couple of crew dudes trying to keep exercising through the cold weather months in Boston. They made a pact to workout outside everyday in November no matter what. They knew that if they were going to make it through the brutal conditions that they were going to have to keep it challenging and engaging so they decided to run every staircase at Harvard Stadium. Their workouts spread like wildfire and now they are present in 43 different cities in just a few short years!
CrossFit is another example of workouts that are redesigned to be fun, although it is a little more on the complex side and usually geared towards people who want to spice up their current weight-based workouts. Nevertheless, it started as a small, underground-type practice and has evolved into a worldwide competition.
Completing 100 burpees, deadlifting 225lbs 75 times, and doing pull-ups until you puke doesn’t sound appealing to you? Will Death be lingering if you run every stair in Harvard Stadium? Maybe you are no where near the level of working out that many of these programs offer and you don’t know where to start. That is ok! Enter YouTube.
YouTube has a plethora of workout videos that you can do from the comfort of your home. You can sweat, smell, and exit bodily gasses as much as you want and no one but you will know. The best part about YouTube workout videos is that you can find anything and everything at all levels. Want to try a beginner yoga session? You have 10 pages of videos to choose from. Interested in a home-based Crossfit workout? Search it up. Don’t worry if you can’t complete the all the reps or if you can’t get into “fallen star.” No one is there to see you fail or to judge you. Even if they were, who cares? You are trying your best and working to become the best version of you. High five!
The above suggestions are great ways to workout, but they are still semi-formal. Think about how elementary kids get their exercise. They don’t say, “Ok, 5:00, I need to get my workout in!” They run around and play tag, kickball, or just chase each other around the playground. They don’t even realize that they are getting exercise, yet by the end of their 30 minutes outside they are completely gassed and sweaty.
That is what we should be striving for when we exercise. You want to mentally be in a place where you don’t even think about how hard you are going because you are having so much fun or you are so determined. If you have children, go play tag or some sort of game with them and see how long you last! I bet most of you get burnt out pretty quickly! Thats ok! Get out there tomorrow, the next day, and the next day and you’ll slowly start to see that you can hang a little bit more each day! Guess what, you are exercising and improving!
If you don’t have kids, I do not recommend going to the local playground and chasing children as this will find your next exercise session in a prison yard. However, this does not mean that you can’t find something fun to engage in. Join an adult intramural league nearby, go for a hike, or download the Zombies, Run app and run through your neighborhood trying to escape the zombies! Rid yourself of the mindset that exercise is limited to the gym. Get creative, get sweaty, and breathe a little bit harder than usual!
What you do to make exercise fun? Share your creativity in the comments!