Last week, I went to two exercise classes. One was a super intense muscle, abs and cardio workout with lots of other people. One was an aikido class. One had me crying at home and feeling like I should never try to use my body again. One had me sitting on a bus and feeling more at peace with the world than I have in a long time.
Which got me thinking about exercise.
I think for a lot of us, exercise is hard. We know that we’re supposed to do it as it’s good for our health and we know that lots of people love doing it and that it can be a great thing. The problem is, we don’t love it. We try to do the things people tell us are so great – running, going to the gym, all that jazz – but end up feeling useless. We resent it. We grab on to any tiny good feeling and amplify it a thousand times, build it up into something it’s not because we’re so desperate to be happy about exercise in the way everyone else is. We hate our bodies for not being able to do what everyone else does, and eventually we just stop going because we don’t want to feel so crap about ourselves.
Finding an exercise that you actually, properly, truly like is bloody hard, but it can be done. Martial arts, roller derby, zumba, hula-hooping, dancing, rock climbing, pilates, circus training – there’s a thousand different ways to get your body moving, and one of them will make you happy. It’s just the law of averages.
Exercise should be because you love your body and not because you hate it. So I’m basically today saying that it’s really important we try to find the things we love to do, rather than forcing ourselves to do the ones we hate.