I have never been someone who exercises. Oh sure, when I was a kid I would ride my bike around town or go swimming and the like, but I grew into a pretty sendentary adult. I’ve always been more of a mental individual than a physical one, more artistic than athletic. I’ve always liked to read and write, to play piano and guitar, and to indulge in movies and video games. I did not play sports, I never got into anything like track or gymnastics, and I absolutely loathed physical education. I just never enjoyed any of it, and even the stuff I did get into had downsides. I became a cheerleader for a while in high school, but while I enjoyed the actual routines, I hated the fitness program portion that went with it. I was into Tae Kwon Do for a couple of years and I loved the training, but I hated the warm-ups and forms and the running at the beginning of each class.
Especially, especially, I hated the running. I’ve always hated running because I’ve always been bad at it. My legs get sore so quickly, I could never seem to be able to control my breathing, and I’ve always found it just dreadfully boring. I have had people around me telling me for years that if I want to get into shape I should run, but I could just never convince myself to do it. I’ve tried a number of times, but it always came to the same conclusion: “It’s too hard, I’m no good at it, and I hate it!”
Then I tried the Zombies! Run! 5k Training app. Yes, I know, I’ve already written about this before, but this is not a shameless plug. Just hear me out. I tried the app out partly because I was trying to figure out how to work some exercise into my day, but mostly because it sounded so interesting and different. Train to run by running from imaginary zombies? Hmm. Neat. So I gave it a whirl. I didn’t honestly expect to become hooked. I am now obsessed with this program. I long to hear more of the story, I’m motivated by the playful characters urging me on, and I feel genuinely proud of myself whenever I finish a run. I’ve done other exercise programs that made me feel good about myself at the end of the workout (P90X comes to mind), but this is the first time I can ever recall being excited to start the exercise. I’ve been practically leaping out of bed in the morning, I’m actually disappointed when the run is over, and I’ve been skipping the program-designated days off because I want to keep going. Let that sink in. The program is telling me to take a day off and I’m saying, “Screw that, give me more!”
This all confirms what I’ve been hearing for years; that is, the trick is to find something you enjoy doing. Exercise feels like a chore because we force ourselves to do things that are easily defined as “fitness” moves, like weight lifting for instance. But for every gym buff who lives for the free weights, there are a hundred more people thinking up every excuse in the book to not go to the gym because weight training makes them miserable. For every dedicated marathon runner there are dozens of people who spend their entire workout fantasizing about breaking a leg so they don’t have to run anymore. For every enlightened yogi there is a veritable army of agitated people with zero balance two deep breaths away from strangling their instructor with the yoga mat because it’s just not working for them.
You’ll never exercise if the very thought of the exercise makes you cringe. You’ll just keep making excuses, or you’ll phone it in, and afterward you’ll feel bad for not making the effort.
So find something you truly enjoy. It doesn’t have to be “traditional” exercise; it just has to be something physical that you enjoy enough to keep doing it. It could be swimming at the local pool, golfing with a friend, walking a friend’s dog, learning how to pole dance (they have classes for that now!), joining a gentlemen’s hockey team, tending your own garden, or any number of other possibilities. Find something you enjoy doing, do it often, and you will see results.
Myself, I may not have experienced any significant weight loss (yet!) on the Zombies! Run! program, but I have reduced my average pace from a 20-minute mile to a 14-minute mile in just two weeks, which is something I’m sure I never would have accomplished had I not found this app.
What kind of fitness programs have you tried? Have they worked for you? Do you enjoy your workouts? Please share!