A few mornings ago, I completed my usual 5 am ‘stumble out of bed, caffeinate, turn on computer and write’ routine. Feeling somewhat stiff in body and uninspired in mind an hour in, I opted to set aside my laptop and roll out my yoga mat. I spent 20 minutes flowing through various snap, crackle, pop, movements, each reinforcing the decision to switch up my morning schedule. Every opening and adjustment in my hips and back felt like my body’s way of offering thanks for the exercise.
I followed up my yoga session with my usual AM walk and came home from the 80-degree morning stroll feeling ready for a shower, but also, feeling reinvigorated. Growing up with a mom who ran marathons, a dad who attached pull-up bars to door openings, and a brother and sister who played and schooled me in sports, I developed a love for fitness early.
In hindsight, one of the best parts about discovering sports early in life was that I participated for one reason, and one reason alone, the sake of the activity. I didn’t associate working out with guilt or weight. I simply saw it as my way to accomplish goals, connect with friends, clear my head, and focus my energy.
I still do.
I’m as passionate about fitness now as I ever was. I just wish the ‘love of the game’ mentality of childhood more commonly transferred into adulthood. I wish that expressions like “sweat is fat crying” and “don’t stop when it hurts, stop when you’re done,” weren’t plastered across tank tops and Pinterest boards. I wish that working out wasn’t regularly associated with shame, judgement, and punishment.
When I view being active as something I get to do rather than something I have to do, something that makes me feel better rather than solely look better, something that inspires me to set and reach new goals rather than habitually and begrudgingly hop onto the same machine, and something that serves as a type of therapy rather than adds to my stress, I’m reminded of how much I simply enjoy it.
While I’m well aware that my love for sports and movement may be more personally imbedded in both the nature and nurture aspects of my life, I’m also confident that fitness can be fun, even for the less enthused. And if not fun, incredibly beneficial to well-being across the board.
It may require some trial and error, or in my case, an uncoordinated dance class or two, but it may also uncover a new strength, passion, or skill. And amidst the commonly shared ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality, a pure, good for the soul, body, and mind, kind of joy might even come to exist.