We asked a personal trainer and motivational speaker how to make exercise truly enjoyable.
There’s a fine line between taking care of our bodies to feel good and maintain sound health, and doing so because of societal preconceptions about physical attractiveness and resultant ‘worthiness’. Although exercise is a fundamental part of living life well, the reasons we do it can be unhealthy. Be on the lookout for any of these unhelpful motivations:
- The need to be thin to feel good about yourself
- Pressure to look good and lean to attract a new partner or please an existing one
- Feelings of insecurity about a specific body part
- Fear of not being loved by others if you are out of shape
- Guilt of not exercising every day, or more often
- To release stress caused by a changeable situation
- To release anger
- To show off, get attention, compete or provoke envy in others
- To fight or intimidate others
- Out of pure habit without enjoyment
- Out of shame
Being mindful about your reasons for hitting the gym or engaging in any physical activity is helpful if you are seeking true personal growth and self-knowledge.
My clients who get the most out of their exercise routines approach each session from a place of enjoyment and love. When you find joy in your body and how you use it, you will have a very different experience when working out. A healthy body-mind connection lets you move in the moment. There is flow without fear or attachment to outcome. You experience satisfaction before, during and after your exercise sessions, and feel anxiety-free about your next workout.
Exercise is a great habit to cultivate, but should not become an obsession. There should be no expectation to get specific results apart from improving your overall health. There should be no guilt when you don’t exercise. The main motivation should be to live longer and be physically healthy so you can continue to learn and grow.
My advice is that you find your own unique way of connecting with self-love and enjoyment while moving your body. We have all heard of yoga, tai chi and Pilates as workouts that connect the mind, body and soul, but any exercise can be transformed into an act of meditation or a spiritual experience. Here are some ideas:
- Choose any exercise you feel you might enjoy, or already have experience with.
- Exercise in nature. Trees, rivers, flowers, rocks – these are all reminders of your true essence.
- Listen to loving and joyful songs or mantras.
- Drink a cup or two of Matcha green tea. This tea is beneficial for your health, offers an instant sense of clarity and focus, and increases energy and wellbeing. It has been used by Zen Buddhists in their spiritual practices for centuries.
- Listen to speakers whose presence and words open your heart to love and kindness.
- Light a candle or incense.
- While it is good to exercise every day, don’t force your body into it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Valeria is a certified personal trainer, first-prize fitness competitor, podcast host and author of the book Fit for Joy. For more info visit www.fitforjoy.org.