Why does it require every ounce of energy to drag yourself to the gym or that workout class you signed up for? We all agree that moving our bodies is objectively good for us, yet the motivation is not there. What’s going on here?!
Well, for one, we’ve created an “exercise culture” that might be doing more harm than it is good. In this post, we’ll explore this culture and provide some helpful perspectives on how you can (re)discover the joy of movement in your life. Let’s jump in!
Start by changing your language
If you feel frustrated or generally negative towards “exercise” or “fitness,” you’re not alone. In a poll of 2,000 people, 50% admitted they don’t work out as much as they’d like because “they just don’t enjoy it.” 34% even said they’d hand wash dishes for the rest of their life to avoid exercising ever again.
To form a new relationship with “exercise,” we first need to question the language we use to talk about it. A straightforward shift that’s greatly impacted me is speaking about it in terms of “movement.” This change in language makes it less about the hour in the gym and more about how we relate to our physicality. So even if I didn’t get to the gym today, I still reap the benefits of movement.
“Fitness is a small, small world, within a universe of movement.”Ido Portal
Recognize your nature as a “mover.”
Since we came out of the womb, you and I have been in motion. As a kid, I was always outside. Climbing trees, rollerblading, playing sports – it didn’t matter. In high school, “play” was replaced with “working out,” and it became about looking a certain way, not feeling a certain way. My motivation to get into the gym became my insecurity and not the sense of play that once inspired me.
My workouts became painfully monotonous. I often wanted it to be over before they even started. When I found yoga, it was the first time I had sniffed that sense of child-like play. But before long, I had shoved yoga into my “exercise” box, and it quickly lost its zeal. It wasn’t until I asked myself this question that everything changed for me.
How did I like to move as a kid?
That day, I did two things: first, I joined a climbing gym, and second, I ordered a pair of rollerblades. What I didn’t realize is I had just broken through the barrier of exercise and opened myself to the wonderful world of movement.
What is “movement culture”?
Movement is a way of relating to our physicality and the world around us. No matter who you are, we rely on movement. For so long, this need to keep up my body was an exhausting thought. But I began to see movement as a tremendous opportunity. Getting into my body became something I looked forward to every day. And within weeks, I saw my mental health improve in dramatic ways.
Months later, my body was in better shape than ever before. The playful movements, like rollerblading and climbing, inspired me to explore my body. My workouts were becoming more creative and improvisational. My yoga flows were improving dramatically, and I couldn’t wait to get to the gym. As a bonus, I started to meet awesome humans and developed a sense of community.
I share this story to encourage you – movement can be your best friend and your most excellent teacher. It can uplift your week, increase longevity, and fuel a sense of belonging. But you must be willing to challenge your mindset on exercise first.
Here are three mindset shifts that transformed my relationship with physical activity:
- Don’t make it mean so much
“Exercise” culture is all about that hour in the gym. “Movement” culture is a commitment to being in your body throughout your day. That means 10, 20, and 30 mins are significant time gaps to get into your body. Embrace things that make you feel good, and notice how you feel more inspired to take on those longer chunks of time.
- Check your motivation
“Exercise culture” motivates you to get to the gym so you can change how you look. “Movement culture” invites you to move so you can change how you feel. The reason we do something (inputs) will always determine the impact it has (output). You are beautiful as you are! Move because it feels good, and it is good. Move because you love yourself. Move for the love of the movement! Will your body transform in the process? Of course, but it’s the wrong fuel to motivate your practice. Healthy motivation is critical to maximizing the wide-ranging benefits of movement.
- Move how you want to move
“Exercise culture” says you need to do the things that make you look more beautiful. “Movement culture” urges you to move in a way that makes you feel more alive. Start with what you already love. Do more of that! Be a practitioner and explore your own body. As you develop your awareness of your body, stay open to expanding your practice. The world of movement is a massive cloud with lots of entry points. Have fun, make it playful, and explore! And if you don’t go to the gym one day, don’t beat yourself up. Find more minor ways to get present in your body and give yourself grace.
I hope you feel my passion for this subject. The reason is simple: my movement practice has changed my life. And I believe it can change yours as well.
Invest in your happiness and make “movement” a priority in your life. Let us know if there’s a type of movement you’re excited to launch into! Let’s keep moving and growing together.