Exercise. Ex. Er. Size. What is it about that word that just makes people cringe? I love to work out and move my body, but just hearing the word “exercise” evokes obligation and boredom and something you should do on a regular basis but would really rather not, like flossing. The word “exercise” brings to mind the opposite of a good time.
So many people bully themselves into working out in a way that doesn’t feel so hot, because they feel like they should be doing it. If you drag yourself to a spin class every morning because you feel like you HAVE to…what’s the point? Not only are you stressing your body out in a way that can actually make you hold on to weight, you’re associating working out with having un-fun. And it doesn’t have to be. In fact, I propose that you should exercise ONLY if it feels good and rewarding. We all know that feeling too: that rush of exhausted satisfaction after getting your ass kicked in a sculpt class, or the lovely way you feel during a heart-pounding sprint.
Lately, I’ve been practicing yoga by myself in lieu of going to classes: I get to move intuitively, take my time with poses I’m working on, and practice at a pace that suits my energy level. I bring this into my teaching too; allowing some time in poses to move in a way that my students’ bodies are calling out for, just because it feels so good. Sighing into that first down dog of the day, or finding my edge in a backbend feels so sweet, especially when I know that I’ve guided myself to that delicious place by just listening to my body. To really tune in to how you want to move feels spectacular, but it takes some work to find the kind of movement your body craves, especially if you’re not used to it.
So! Here are a few ways you can find the movement that feels good to you:
You can’t know how your body likes to move unless you move it in all different ways. I’m a big proponent of going to studios and trying out classes, because you’ll be with other people and you have an expert instructor to show you how it’s done. Try belly dancing, then try a hip hop class. Take a hooping workshop, then check out a kickboxing class. You could even do one of those ridiculous-sounding but outrageously fun hybrid classes, like Yoga Booty Ballet or Ballerina Fight Club. If you wanna give running a go, I highly, highly recommend a Couch to 5k program, where you start small and work your way up to running for a half hour straight (it’s how I got started!). The point is get out there and figure out how you like to move, because you’ll do it more often if you enjoy it!
So while you’re trying out these new, fantastic ways of moving your body, pay attention to how you’re feeling. Does this exhilarate you or are you bored to tears? Are you getting pissy and frustrated or do you feel ignited and challenged? How does your physical body feel? Notice if you need something hotter, slower, or more or less vigorous. Notice how you feel afterwards. Are you energized or wiped out? Be inquisitive and non-judging, and gather the information your bod is giving you.
Vary it up.
Now that you’ve found something that feels awesome, don’t stop searching for new ways to move that are fun and engaging. The sheer novelty of switching it up your routine will keep you interested and give you incentive to do it.
This all boils down to one thing: feeling comfortable and knowing what your specific body is calling out for is how you learn to move in ways that feel fantastic. This is how all those kooky marathon runners with huge smiles crossing the finish line do it: they don’t beat their bodies into loving running, running is just what their body craves. Discover what you crave, and it’ll feel so good that you can’t help but love it.