The thought of exercising used to make me cringe. There would be the occasional week or two where my willpower was peaking and exercising didn’t seem so bad, but those weeks came few and far between. In general, exercise filled me with dread. Exercise, to me, was boring as hell.
Since the start of this year, I’ve been getting fit and healthy. I’ve lost 15kg (33 pounds). I constantly find myself running my hands over my arms and legs because I can’t believe how strong they feel. Most of my clothes no longer fit because I’ve gone down 3 sizes. But the best thing, to me, is that I now love exercise. And ooh boy, did I hate it before.
Please don’t hate me. I know how douche-y it sounds — to love exercise, to crave exercise, to be passionate about exercise. But finding a love for exercise is life-changing.
And I think I know the secret.
It’s very simple, and it’s free.
You’ve simply got to mix it up.
In this day and age, there’s a hundred different ways to exercise. All of which are at our very fingertips, and many in the form of free YouTube videos. You do not have to slog it out on the treadmill for an hour everyday (unless, of course, you enjoy doing so. That’s what matters here).
Exercising can be fun and exciting. You can constantly challenge yourself. You can try a thousand different things, and never have to repeat the same thing twice.
If you have to force yourself to do something, it’s highly unlikely, if not completely improbable, that you’re going to stick to it long-term. And why should you? Life’s too short to do anything that makes you miserable.
Now, I exercise 6–7 days a week. And no, it’s not because I’m sadistic.
It’s because I genuinely want to. Really.
By mixing it up, I keep myself interested. I’m never bored, and exercise no longer feels like a chore. I feel blessed that I have the ability to move my body. I’m intrigued at what my body can do and how I can improve. I’m amazed by new muscles and better fitting clothes. And I enjoy learning new things, new exercises, new classes, new moves. Exercise, to me, is fun.
Go for a walk.
The idea that you need to be drenched in sweat or desperately struggling for breath after a workout in order to see benefits is incorrect. Any exercise is better than no exercise and walking is pretty damn great. Before you go, make some killer playlists, or download a podcast or audio book.
Try different routes, different neighbourhoods, different tracks. Find a forest, a beach, a field. Walking is such a great form of exercise, and so simple to achieve.
No matter what, I try and walk for at least 20 minutes a day (which often turns into 60 minutes because I’m enjoying it so much). Walking has so many benefits including being able to reduce stress and depression, providing your mind with clarity, helping your immune and cardiovascular system and by supporting good sleep.
Do some HIIT.
The main reason that I love HIIT so much is because it’s super quick but super effective. High intensive interval training sessions usually last between 10–30 minutes, and are wonderful calorie burners.
You DO NOT HAVE TO EXERCISE FOR HOURS EACH DAY to see results. That is absolutely fake news.
One study compared the calories burned during 30 minutes each of HIIT, weight training, running and biking. The researchers found that HIIT burned 25–30% more calories than the other forms of exercise. Some researchers have even found that HIIT increases your metabolism after exercise more so than jogging and weight training.
HIIT workouts burn tons of calories in a short amount of time, and can easily be squeezed into a busy work/life schedule. HIIT sessions can also help you get very, very fit. There’s also THOUSANDS of awesome, free workouts available online.
Strength training involves the performance of physical exercises which are designed to improve strength and endurance, and is very important to your overall health and wellness. It’s also very beneficial to those wanting to lose weight.
The reason I enjoy strength training sessions so much is because you can focus on different body parts every time which keeps things interesting.
Alternate between legs, back, arms, abs, glutes — rinse and repeat. There are so many exercises to learn and do, and so many reasons for why you’re probably going to hurt tomorrow (in a good way).
Have a dance.
I feel like I found buried treasure when I discovered dancing workouts.
Honestly, go to YouTube and search for anything along the lines of dance cardio, dance workout, dancing workouts for beginners, hip hop cardio, etc. You won’t be disappointed, and absolutely no skill is required… you can trust me on that.
I love to mute the videos, crank my own tunes and sweat for 30 minutes. According to my Apple Watch, my heart rate gets just as high as a normal cardio workout and the calories burn like crazy. The only difference is that I’m having a hell of a good time.
Am I often perturbed by my lack of rhythm and ability to follow easy steps? Certainly.
Does it matter? Nope, because any exercise that has me smiling the entire time is a winner to me.
Do some boxing.
Similar to dancing, doing some shadow boxing is a great way to mix your cardio sessions up. Again, there’s plenty of free videos online to follow along to.
Boxing makes me feel strong. Jab, cross, hook and uppercut to your most badass playlists and feel yourself get fitter and stronger.
Go for a surf.
Surfing is one of those rare exercises where 3 hours actually feels like 1, because it’s that much fun. I’ll hit the waves at 10am and next minute, it’s 1pm and I have no idea where the time went. All I know is that my energy is depleted and I’ve burnt a truckload of calories.
Try and find sports that are enjoyable to you. They won’t feel like exercise at all.
Take a hike.
I’m not sure if it’s because my friends and I are nearly in our thirties, but our weekend activities have definitely begun to sway more towards a huge hike than hitting the bars.
Hiking is a fabulous way to get in your exercise. You can take in some beautiful scenery, socialise with your mates, have a picnic with your partner with beautiful surrounds, and get your step count right up there in the meantime.
Get your steps up.
Whether it’s by walking, running or a steps workout in your living room, challenge yourself. Aim for 10,000 steps if you can.
I found that getting 10,000 steps was a lot easier in the warmer months when going for a walk outside was a lot more appealing, but I found a cheat. Type in ‘steps workout’ or ‘10,000 steps’ onto YouTube and follow along to a step-raising workout. These are pretty enjoyable, and can be done whilst watching your favourite show.
Join a team.
Before COVID hit, I played social netball with my friends once a week.
I’m super competitive so this was a great way to exercise without it ever feeling like a chore. My heart would race, my face would turn beetroot and my hair would be soaked with sweat — but I enjoyed every second of it.
When things finally go back to the ‘new’ normal, I highly recommend signing up to a social sport. Whether it’s basketball, golf, tennis, football, volleyball — it’s a great way to make exercise enjoyable.
Join a class.
Again, before COVID hit, my partner and I signed up to an app called Class Pass. For a monthly subscription, you get tokens which you can use for a variety of different gyms and workouts. This is great for someone like me who, as you can probably tell by now, gets bored very easily.
I alternated between Run Club (running on treadmills in a nightclub setting with a run coach), KX Pilates (reformer pilates) and Hurt Locker (seriously hard HIIT and strength workouts).
Keeping things fresh and new kept me interested. I was always filled with excitement and anticipation before each class. Feeling anything that resembles butterflies in your tummy before exercise is something that keeps you coming back for more.
Keep trying new things. Keep mixing it up.
I never do the type of exercise in a week. I don’t have the attention span for that, and I know from experience I would never stick with it.
Exercise can, and should, be fun. There are so many different things you can do to get your body moving. Run, walk, dance, box, whatever it is, just get moving.