When I mention exercise, what comes to mind? Someone jogging in a park? People doing the latest cardio craze? A gym teacher yelling at you? An infomercial exercise gadget that only allows 1 move? Everyone knows that exercise is good for them, and they may try it. The key problem is sticking with it, and that’s so hard, right? BUT WAIT! What if you could exercise without getting bored, doing activities that are fun?
Take a Walk on the Mild Side
I don’t know where to start, but I want to do something. Sitting here staring at the wall isn’t fun anymore.
Most people can walk. If you’re not in shape, you can at least get started with that. It’s pleasant (unless you’re in a dangerous area), it can relieve stress, and if you walk with someone, it’s sociable, a nice benefit. It won’t get you into top shape, but it’s way better than doing nothing, and is a good way to get started, possibly leading to other exercise. Want to be more productive? Go up and down hills.
I can’t get motivated to exercise alone – it’s depressing. What should I do?
Many people like exercising with a partner or friends. It’s fun, and it’s great to feel like “we’re in this together”. You keep each other on task, give encouragement, boost each others’ spirits when needed. It could be:
- a class
- two of you working out together in the gym
- playing tennis or golf
- walking together
…and so on. To be sure, there are challenges. Coordinating 2 or more schedules is tricky in today’s busy world. If your workout pal can’t make it, then there’s a chance you might not go either, and let’s be honest, sometimes we look for excuses for not doing things!
Team spirit gets me fired up. My friends and I have a great time, the adrenaline flows, and so does the beer afterwards!
Some people like to take the social thing further, and join a team. Friendly competition and people cheering you on can be exciting. To be sure, it does require a time commitment. There’s another pitfall, too – if you only play your favorite sport for a short season each year, then what about the rest of the year? Fantasy football burns few calories.
I’d rather work out my own way. I do it when and where I please, and answer to no one. I don’t like being interrupted, so don’t talk to me, and no, I’m not letting anyone use this machine until I’m done.
Some people are very self-motivated. They enjoy the freedom of making their own schedule and running their own show without relying on workout partners, team members, or classes occurring at a particular time. They derive their own satisfaction in their accomplishments and rely less on praise from others. Downsides include not having camaraderie, and if they have poor exercise knowledge, it may be hard to stay on task or map out a workout plan.
Jogging, Marathons, and other Long Distance Running
I really like being outdoors, and I like the feeling I get after running for a long time. Going long distances is a really satisfying achievement, so my footwear budget rivals the GDP of certain countries.
Long Haul Trekkers
For many, jogging is the gateway to exercise. Little equipment is needed, and no special skills are needed until you get serious. If you’re bitten by the long distance bug, you’ll move up to competitive running, and may train to run a marathon or more. This requires a significant time commitment and a whole lot of grit. Because you’re exercising so long and so hard, often on unfriendly surfaces, the risk of repetitive strain (and other) injuries is significant.
Whole Family Exercise Fun
My kids run me ragged. Does this count as exercise? It is? Then how do I count reps?
This may not sound like real exercise at first. But when Mom and/or Dad play with their kids, it can be very active if you have enough space to move. Kids are natural exercisers, and keeping up with them is challenging. For those of us with a youthful spirit and little desire to do exercise number-crunching, this can be fun, and could double as babysitting. You and your friends with kids may even be able to share babysitting!
Weightlifting, Powerlifting, and Other Hardcore Stuff
I want to take every exercise to the max and get in better shape than everybody else. I crave variety and will keep changing exercises all the time. Sometimes I go so hard that I get a little nauseous.
When “Pain is Gain” Can Plainly Be Explained
There’s an interesting subculture of people who consider normal exercise to be wimpy – they feel compelled to take it to the extreme. One source for them is the Crossfit movement. They apply a variety of exercise approaches, and like to push themselves very hard. They are often very fit and highly competitive. With any very high intensity program, there is some risk of injury or over-training, and they are prepared to take that risk.
The Martial (Arts) Plan
I want something that’s very high intensity, with exciting elements of combat, bravery, and risk. I might get tagged, but I’ll never be bored. Take note of my blood type just in case.
It seems like there’s a martial art for just about anyone. Those who are competitive and not afraid to do riskier exercise may gravitate to this. The No-Holds-Barred styles of fighting are the most hardcore of this lot. I’d also include boxers in this category – although it’s not a martial art per se, and the philosophy may differ, many of the training needs and techniques are similar.
Yoga, Pilates, and other Gentler Exercises
I want exercises that are more contemplative, not just mechanical routines. I also like stretching and becoming more flexible. I like to get metaphysical at times.
Those who like a dose of spirituality and flexibility may find that yoga meets their needs. I could be stretching the point a bit (doh!), but I might include Pilates people in this group. Of course, there’s a large Power Yoga movement, too, which seems to share features of the Pain is Gain approach!
Dancing Your A** Off
I love music and being with other people. The rhythm gets me inspired, and I want to learn some fancy moves. When I lose some weight, I’m treating myself to new clothes!
Dancing is a great way to exercise. It can be easy or hard, simple or incredibly complex. It’s highly sociable, and of all the exercises mentioned here, it’s the sexiest!
I think many people don’t consider dance when looking for exercise, for these reasons:
- They don’t know how, and there are no teachers available in their area.
- You’re supposed to suffer when you’re exercising, right? These people look like they’re having fun, that can’t be good!
- They’re just too embarrassed to dance.
It could be grouped in the Social or Team groups above, but it’s rich enough that I think it deserves its own category. Unless you’re a natural, or you’re from a country, culture, or area where dancing is part of everyday life, you’ll need instruction and people to practice with.
There’s a type of Secret Exercise that’s very rare, but may be best for you – something that you invent yourself! What better way to meet your needs? I know, that’s a bit of a cop-out, but even if you’re not feeling creative right now, the answer may come to you with some help.
I’ve divided exercise styles into some very general groups, but I’m only scratching the surface. Let’s see what might not easily fall into the above categories… there’s parkour, skateboarding, rock climbing, mountain climbing, tightrope walking, hula hooping, swimming, hang-gliding. There are infinite possibilities and variations, so I don’t buy the idea that exercise has to be boring. Imagination and investigation are needed!
What type of exercise gets you excited? Did you find something in this list that sounds good? Great, then go and get moving! If not, why not comment here – we can talk about it and find something for you. While you’re at it, guess which category I fall into!