It’s 1999. Y2K was fast approaching, Haley Joel Osmet was seeing dead people and I was a pudgy 10 year old hating her life in PE. It was the day of the Presidential Fitness Test and I was shaking in my Skechers. Based on my recess activity, I already knew that I wasn’t athletic and I was positive I was going to fail.
The mile run was where I started to lose it.
I began to hyperventilate, paralyzed with fear that I wouldn’t be able to complete the long distance. In the end I (miraculously) did and later I scoffed at my 15 minute run time. “I’m just not athletic” I said, munching on my dunkaroos, “I hate sports and I hate exercising. I’m just never gonna be good at it, ya know?”
Fast forward to high school. I’d traded my Skechers for Uggs and I’d successfully gotten out of every physically demanding thing (other than dance classes) that was thrown at me thus far. I’d conveniently been sick for every trying day of PE in middle school. I’d even persuaded my doctor to suggest that I had “exercise-induced asthma” to get me out of running in my cheerleading practices. So, when my best friend suggested that we go to the gym after school, I almost dropped my Nokia brick phone.
Workout? By choice? Me? Was she joking? I laughed it off, pretended there was a Gilmore Girls marathon on ABC and slowly slinked away. There was NO way I was going to workout for pleasure!
Fast forward to 2016. I love working out. My day doesn’t feel complete without a workout. I love working out so much that I made it my freakin career! What changed? Did I become more athletic? Nope. Not one bit.
My idea of working out changed.
I learned that working out has nothing to do with athleticism and everything to do with your personal goals.
Does that sound corny? Good, because it is corny.
You truly don’t need to be athletic to like working out because, simply, who cares? Working out is not a competitive sport or an activity that is watched and judged by random strangers.
No one cares about how fast your mile time is or how much weight you can bench.
Only you care about those things and that’s all that matters. You’re working out to feel good and no one’s opinion can influence that!
It took me a lot of time to realize that fact. The first time I walked into a gym, I was a fitness newbie, I thought for sure every person in the gym would drop their weights and double over laughing. But of course that didn’t happen because a) the world doesn’t revolve around me and b) NO ONE CARED! Everyone in the gym was too focused on their own workout (as they should be) to watch me jump off the treadmill after 5 minutes. No one noticed that I was struggling with the five pound dumbbells and, much to my surprise, no one pointed and laughed.
Even though I had gotten over my paralyzing fear of gym-timidation, I still HATED working out. I thought working out only entailed running and weights and, at the time, I hated both of those things. How could I continue to do something that I hated? A friend finally broke it down for me:
Working out is simply breaking a sweat.
Nothing more than that. Endorphins aren’t unique to running or weight lifting. You produce endorphins virtually anytime you break a sweat. In fact, some studies indicate that your brain produces endorphins anytime a personal goal is met.
That personal goal could be anything—completing a dance class, jumping in the waves at the beach, walking your dog around the block, scrubbing the house, anything. And, guess what? All those things could be considered “exercise.” And none of those things have to do with sports or conventional athleticism.
I had actually been “working out” without even knowing it! All those dance classes and cheerleading practices were actually exercise. I was just too obsessive with my non-athleticism to realize that I was actually exercising!
And that’s how I got into working out. I got out of my own head (and basically got over myself), redefined my definition of exercise and just started sweating in whatever way I felt like sweating. I started with a spin class after hearing some of my favorite tunes wafting out of the spin studio. I gave myself full permission to go at my own pace throughout the class and, in the end, I ended up enjoying it! After a couple weeks, I began to disassociate the classes with exercise and started to go because I loved it!
Those spin classes started a chain reaction. I decided to try kickboxing and then moved to pilates. When I got to college, my college gym had TV’s on the treadmills and ellipticals, so I started to work out on those machines to catch up on my shows. Bootcamps followed and, eventually, I got into weight lifting.
So, that’s how it happened. That’s how this former shunner of exercise, shirker of fitness and sweat-free broad fell in love with working out.
And you can do it too.
Look back on your childhood and try to see if you liked an activities as a kid. Evaluate how you feel during active times with your family and/or friends. Then research local gyms or classes (or talk to your AnthroPhysique trainer!) and find a mode of exercise that pleases you. Remember, there is no wrong way to break a sweat. You don’t need to be Mia Hamm to work out—all you need is determination and a pair of awesome sneakers.
Now, GO BREAK A SWEAT!