How many of us are pretending to love going to the gym? I get that it’s necessary or it’s enjoyable to see what your body can do or you crave that sense of accomplishment when you start to see the way your body can transform, but unless you’re a huge fitness nerd (which, seriously, kudos to you if you are…meanwhile the rest of us mere mortals are just trying to get off our butts once in a while) it can get boring pretty quickly.
I’ve learned to go from being the person who makes jokes about how lazy I am and how the gym is my enemy, to realizing that there is so much more to working out than lifting weights in a grey-walled gloomy room full of sweaty people who are way better looking than me. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the people who adamantly go to the gym, but I’m the kind of person who needs variety. I need to go outside or do something where I can make fun of myself on occasion.
I think it’s (mentally) healthy to create a balance. I burned myself out on the gym and didn’t go back for over a month because I tried to convince myself I really loved going everyday when I really only liked the result it was having on my body. Working out soon became a boring routine, but exercise doesn’t always have to be like that.
Hence, the creation of a new blog series in which I explore ways to work out that have absolutely nothing to do with going to a gym. Fun and unconventional activities, or just things to get your heartrate up.
I’m choosing to start this series off easy, and by easy I mean familiar.
Before you ask, “Gabby, since when do you play tennis?” I don’t.
However, it was the one sport I was forced to play as a kid that I actually enjoyed. Gym class was typically a nightmare filled with pretending that I forgot my hideously unflattering basketball shorts or choosing to run the mile just to get out of activities like dodgeball or kickball or basically any other sport involving me trying to hit a ball when my natural instinct was to run away from it.
And I usually did. No one wanted me on their team and I didn’t want to be on anybody’s team so no one was happy in gym class.
But there was one day every year when the teacher would mix things up and tell the class “we’re playing tennis.” Oh Lordy, my anxiety-ridden heart would immediately turn back into a normally-functioning heart; the familiar dread and immediate wondering of how many times in a month I can get away with saying I have cramps all melted away in that moment because finally we were playing something I enjoyed. I would have loved gym class if it involved far less team sports and more independent activities like tennis, jump rope, and solo basketball. Alas, those days were few and far between so I reveled in them the best that I could.
As I got older I continued playing tennis on an occasional evening at my old elementary school courts with my siblings. None of us were good at the sport per se but we managed a game or two just fine and it was a lot of fun, but our lives got busier and we fizzled out eventually. Fast forward about ten years and I found myself saying to my sister, “hey we should try to play tennis again.” (Keep in mind the word “try.”)
A couple hours later, after scrounging for tennis balls that her dog hadn’t yet destroyed and dancing to some old school Black Eyed Peas to pump us up, we were on the court once again.
And we were awful.
I mean we were absolutely the worst.
Tennis balls flew over the fence more times than either of us could count, we swung and missed the ball by about two feet almost every time, I cowered in fear at least twice, the whole thing was a disaster. By the end of it, we were thoroughly worn out both from running around so much and from laughing at how ridiculous we knew we looked.
I went to sleep that night with sore legs (and right arm) and a smile.
You don’t have to be good at an activity to take part in it. Sometimes it’s more fun to be really terrible at something and be able to laugh about it with people who are equally terrible. If you keep trying you probably won’t even realize how much you’re improving as well because you’re too busy having fun.
What matters in the end is that you made time to do something good for your body and if you enjoyed it, that’s even better. You don’t have to play tennis professionally or be the world’s best dancer or become an awesome surfer or whatever it is you want to do. You should do your best at everything you try, but that’s an entirely different concept than taking everything way too seriously when, maybe, it just isn’t your thing.
Listen to the wise words of Nike (or Shia LaBeouf…whichever you prefer): “Just do it.” And enjoy doing it, whatever that may mean for you.