Listen on the go!
Yes, today you're going to read about a moment in my life that was so mortifying I can still see it playing in slow motion in my head. I'm sharing this somewhat embarrassing story with you because it taught me a huge lesson when it comes to exercise. When we get down to it, this post is really about motivation. I'm pretty sure I speak for everyone here when I say we all wish we just woke up every single morning with the biggest source of energy and suddenly realize our trainers are on, and we're already on the trails running. Let's face it, that doesn't happen to most of us, and it's probably because of one little but very important factor we rarely take into account when it comes to our exercise routine, but I have to share my embarrassing story with you before we get into it.
I don't know if you know this about me, but I used to dance in what seems like a lifetime ago. Not in a competitive, been doing it since I was 3, and have no life outside of dance way, but in a "I freakin' love this and I'm going to give it a try" way.
That's right, at age 13 I took my first flamenco classes, at age 15 I STARTED classical ballet (you read that right, not 5 but 15), at age 16 I added modern dance and broadway type dancing, at age 18 I added contemporary dance. I danced, all the time, I went to classes and learned how to ignore the perfect 15 year old ballerinas in the back who could see I was at the same level as the 8 year olds instead of them. Thank goodness it was a mixed level class or it would have been ridiculously funny and weird being in a room full of 8 year olds at 15!
Every day after school I would go to dance practice, sometimes two different ones in a day, sometimes I would come home and practice my routine again for the next day. I loved it. I was always a shy and scared kid, but for some reason I was fearless and didn't care too much what people thought when it came to dancing. It was the best workout, I loved being quiet and trying to move to the beat. I never danced on a stage, that was besides the point and I think I'm one of those people who would have forgotten all the steps the minute I was up there. It was about going to class, and just dancing.
One day something happened. Yup, get the popcorn ready...
My jazz dance teacher (jazz as in Broadway style dancing, not the music genre), told me she felt I was ready to try a more advanced class. I of course jumped at the chance, not quite knowing what I was getting into. I came home, told my mom, we celebrated and I got my perfect dance outfit ready for the next day. When I walked into the class, the first thing I saw was a very famous dancer, I mean, international stage famous, in the room. I thought maybe both my teacher and her would teach the class and I was suddenly so excited. Then the music started and she stood right beside me and started warming up. "Oh shi%%*#...zzle...". It dawned on me in the first second of the song that I was so in over my head. This wasn't an advanced class, this was a professional class. I don't want to ruin the end of the story, but let me just tell you I WAS NOT READY.
I stumbled, messed up the steps and then suddenly the worst happened.
We were making lines in the back of the room to pirouette our way right to the front. I did mine ok, not perfect but ok, but then, as I reached the front of the class and a full row of ballerinas were starting to pirouette behind me, I returned to the back of the class to try mine again. Not embarrassing? Wait ´til you read this.
Instead of going back down to the end of the room by walking down the side wall while the others were dancing towards the front mirror, silly little clumsy Kim decided to head back right down the middle of the room. That's right, on a straight frontal collision path with all the "real" dancers.
I hadn't realized what I had done until the first of many ballerinas started falling on the floor. You see, once I bumped into the first one, I swerved and hit the second one, then I turned and hit the third... you get the idea. One thing they don't tell you about ballerinas is they are not happy when you interrupt their pirouette practice and they give you the most horrible glaring stare when you try to help them up after you've caused the entire class to come to a screeching halt.
To make matters worse, I was secretly wishing that would be that and I could slowly sink to the back of the room and pray for everyone to forget the incident, but the teacher decided to single me out and proceeded to tell me off in front of the entire class, describing the incident yet again of course. I got yelled at, big time.
Needless to say that class was way too much for me, and it quite honestly took the fun out of it to be trying to have fun with dance in a room full of pros. There was no spontaneity, no fun, no being giddy or clumsy, and no room for error. I went back to my old class, kept on dancing, and never, EVER, forgot to walk back down a pirouette line by using the side walls.
But what does this have to do with you and exercise?
My little "bright red in the face" moment taught me one thing.
"If you don't try it, you'll never know."
So many of our life lessons or blissful moments come from a place of complete awkwardness and stepping out of your comfort zone. If I had never tried that class I would have never understood that dance had to be fun for me, that exercise had to be fun for me. It's a lesson that has been so important to me in my life, especially when it comes to keeping a steady exercise practice.
When I say steady, I don't mean deciding you're going to do one form of exercise for your entire life, I mean a new way of living that incorporates exercise as a given. It's a given that you'll exercise today, just as it's a given you'll brush your teeth. It also means that you can find motivation to get up and do it, and do it enough so that it simply becomes a part of your life.
So what's that little factor we rarely take into account when it comes to our exercise routine?
If you're not having fun with what you're doing right now when it comes to exercise, it's time to head on out and find what fitness expert Chalene Johnson calls "your soulmate workout". A type of exercise that makes you look at your watch when the time is over and go "that's it?!". Yes, it is possible, but here's the secret... it might be way beyond your comfort zone.
It might be something you've never thought of trying before. Something you've laughed at or mocked, maybe even saying "that's not for me".
Boy do these words really mess us up in more ways than one: "That's not for Me".
If I told you that the solution for your lack of motivation when it comes to exercise is out there. If I told you it would work. Would you still say "that's not for me?". Here's another question for ya: "How do you know?".
You might try something and be hopeless at it, you might try another and make a whole row of ballerinas collapse, or you might find your soulmate workout. Make no mistake about this, our bodies look, feel and function better when we move. Recent studies show that being sedentary is a high risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity and a shorter lifespan. Yowza! Here's the best part though, exercising boosts confidence like nothing else, you feel powerful, empowered, and like you're taking care of yourself. It improves body image issues and it keeps you healthy and glowing. Here's the good news, there's a perfect match for you out there, and you'll find it, as long as you don't utter those four little words "That's not for me". At least until you've tried it.
A little list
You know me, I love lists. Just in case you really can't think of how varied a workout you can have, here are some ideas:
What to do:
- Hiking in nature
- Bike riding
- Cross country skiing
- Workout dvd's at home
- Cardio in your living room (yup! you can do it even without a treadmill)
- Strength training
- Cross fit
- Zumba classes
- Dance classes
- Ballroom dance classes (learn the cha cha, hip hop, flamenco, ballet, tap, jazz, the jive, you name it they have it!)
- Ballet barre classes
- Aerobic "striptease" workouts, pole dancing or burlesque
- Playing a sport like basketball, football, soccer, tennis, volleyball.
- Karate or kung fu
- Muai Thai
- Aerobics (yes these still exist!)
- HIIT (High intensity Interval Training)
- Marathon training
- Triathlon training
- Mountain biking
- Skating! (ice or regular)
- Adult gymnastics
- Stationary cardio on the elliptical, bike or treadmill
- Bootcamp style workouts
- Circuit training
- Core training
- Walking up and down stairs or using the stairmaster
- Rock climbing
- Going to the gym
- Taking your gym's most fun fitness classes and not even touching a machine
- Play and run around with your kids, dogs or friends (a game of tag maybe?)
- Playing tunes in your house and dancing like it's the 80s
How to do it
- Exercise with friends or family
- Go it alone and love this quiet time for yourself
- Outdoors or indoors, your call
- On a beach, in the forest trails or right in the middle of the city with the hustle and bustle
- In the gym, or in your living room in your pjs!
- Join a group class and share in the experience
- Find online membership programs like Daily Burn that you can do at home
- Find free youtube videos on everything from yoga, cardio, weight training, pilates and more (some great recommendations are coming below!)
- Buy your favorite fitness dvd's and get moving at home
- Join a rec-league (play games, baseball, soccer with neighbors, friends and family)
- Join a bootcamp in your area and go with a friend
- Go to an all-female gym if you feel more comfortable
- Go to an all-male gym if you feel more comfortable
- Hire a personal trainer to keep you accountable
- Get together with friends or neighbors and pay a trainer or teacher to come teach where you live.
Mix it up
- It's so important to never think you are married to one type of exercise routine. Let me say that again, you are not married to your exercise routine!
- Mixing it up is important, not only for your mental health and for feeling motivated, but it will challenge your brain and you'll see better results as well, since our muscles are easily adaptable to the type of exercise we do. Meaning, we either have to constantly raise the intensity, or, as a much easier and fun way, we can just mix it up often and keep our bodies guessing.
- If you've been super motivated with your latest choice of exercise, and suddenly the spark seems to have left the building, it might be time to mix things up, add a new routine, and remember you can go back to your old routine whenever and however you'd like.
- Keeping it varied makes it a little more challenging and scary, but it makes it so much more fun.
- Take a break when you need one. As a friend once told me, we need vacations for everything in life. If you're feeling burned out, and aren't particularly motivated that week to find something new, take a little break, and during that break, start researching what you'll do next. You might find you're lacing up those trainers sooner than you expected, once you see what else is out there.
No matter what you choose to do for exercise, make sure it is lighting you up inside, pick something that feels like the time flew by, something that makes you smile or laugh at yourself.
No matter what you choose, it's a biological fact that you'll feel amazing after the workout is over. Everyone knows that, but so few people are thinking of how the workout makes you feel before you start. Therein lies the key to daily motivation and success. Do what you love, and change what you're doing if you're not having fun.
Are you ready? We made something special for you!
If you're anything like me, you probably find it extra hard to exercise when you actually have to head out the door, make sure your hair is brushed, that your clothes match, get in the car, find a parking spot and then start working out. Having to go to an actual gym was not the right answer for me although I did it for many years. In the long run however, I always stopped going, and especially if you're pressed for time, finding the tools you need to work out at home can change your life! They certainly did for me, which is why today we're sharing our very special resource page with my favorite FREE and paid exercise programs you can do in your living room... in your pj's... with the dogs watching... while everyone else is asleep and blissfully unaware you're dancing the cha cha in the next room. We'll keep adding to this little resource page so keep checking back! It happens to be part of our library of resources so you have a ton more in there to check out.