image via Pinterest
Lately, I’ve had a few women ask me how they can get excited about bringing fitness, in general, back into their lives– maybe they’ve had a baby or two, or maybe they’ve just been so focused on work and life that the thought of going to a gym or even going out for a run seems daunting or undesirable. When I think back to how I first got into fitness, I think of my mother. As a child, I would frequently accompany her to the local middle school track, where she would run laps and I would try to keep up. She instilled some kind of discipline and desire for running that (clearly) comes through in my current choice of exercise… and, obviously, my body type and affinity for long-distance, endurance-based fitness must come from somewhere! So my first reaction, now, to the question, “What should I do for fitness?” is: work what your mama gave you!
Think about it two ways: what kind of attitude towards fitness did your parents instill in you? (don’t worry; if you were raised in a decidedly un-sports-loving household, you can still embrace fitness today) and what kind of body type do you have?
image via Saltwater Kids
Look back at the types of sports you did as a kid. Where you part of a soccer team or a softball team? Did you do big group classes of gymnastics or ballet? Or were you more of an individual, a member of the swim team or part of your high school track team? Recognizing the environments in which you practiced fitness as a child can help you find a niche today. If you were always a team player, consider joining your local outdoor adventure club or adult sports team– flag football, rugby, soccer, even competitive frisbee could be your exercise of choice! Meeting up with friends for “practice” and competing as a group might be the best way for you to have fun while getting exercise.
Likewise, if you were an individual athlete, finding an activity conducive to that competitive spirit and self-focus might be a better fit: yoga, pilates, cycling, Crossfit– all could play to your natural urge to be on your own, while giving you a community of fellow individuals to turn to when you need inspiration. And, if you avoided sports like the plague as a kid, look at your other social activities: were you part of a team/social environment or did you like doing things on your own? If you were more of a “loner,” doing something super social for fitness might be a major turnoff– working one-on-one with a personal trainer might be more your speed than jumping onto a team.
image via Jokeroo
And, of course, there’s the issue of what you can physically do. Not everyone is meant to be a runner or a rower or a soccer player. Think of your body in three categories: endurance, flexibility, and fearlessness.
If you have good endurance, high intensity sports could be for you– running, biking, swimming are all high-performance activities, where you’re rewarded by enduring longer. Consider training for a triathlon or a road race! If you’re super flexible, try something totally unexpected– ballet or zumba, yoga or even one of those sexy pole dancing classes. And if you’re fearless, embrace it! Water sports (like kayaking), Tough Mudder races (where you run through fire!), or Crossfit are all types of exercise that really challenge you mentally as well as physically; if you can push through pain or allow yourself to do something slightly scary, you’ll enjoy the actual exercise so much more!
Thankfully, these are all qualities that can be improved upon– so if you’re more of an endurance athlete and not very flexible, trying something that challenges that flexibility will give you tremendous results! But if you’re just starting out with fitness again, playing to your strengths will lead to more fun, more enjoyment, and more exercise!
Next time you’re struggling with your fitness or asking yourself, “Why should I exercise? I don’t know what to do!” take a step back and examine yourself and your fitness history. What didn’t work before probably won’t work now. If heading to the gym is a drag, sign up for a team and make exercise a social occasion! If the thought of working out with a big group of people is terrible, find something you can do completely on your own– and then go out and do it!
What is your favorite form of exercise? Does it fall in line with the type of athlete you were as a kid? How do you challenge and embrace your body?