As much as fitness is a part of my life, I certainly didn’t miss working out during a 5-day forced lay-off to allow some stitches to heal on my hip. Granted, I was very busy during that stretch so I hardly noticed that I wasn’t going to the gym. And I knew that more stitches were to come (nothing serious) so I had to fit in a couple of workouts before completely shriveling up. But the mental freedom and physical rest during that time was glorious.
I mentioned this to Jackie while I was stretching her after a session, the type of client who seeks out and values the rejuvenative qualities of exercise, and she asked me, “Don’t you like to exercise?” Frankly, I stumbled during my answer. The irony of my incoherent response is that I have spent my entire adolescent and adult life encouraging, supporting, and espousing exercise to all sorts of people: high school peers, food-service workers at college, family, friends, and countless clients. And yet, I was unable to convincingly articulate for myself the very argument I make to others. Let me explain…
Having grown up as a tomboy, someone who participated in sports, and who had bigger arms than most of the boys in high school, I loved being an athlete. There is no greater feeling to me than moving freely yet purposefully, in a coordinated, fluid way that results in precise execution of a given skill. I found that feeling to be greatest when playing tennis, which I did competitively through college. Time spent in the gym had purpose, a larger end goal than simply lifting heavy things from one spot to another: being more fit made me a better player.
However, my competitive career was forced to end due to injury and the gym no longer served a higher purpose for me. Lifting became a means to its own end, a tiring exercise more in mind than in muscle. Ever since this transition—from athlete to civilian—my devotion to exercise has remained while the enthusiasm behind the workouts ebbs and flows. As I explained this part to Jackie, she asked, “What about for your health?” Of course, I do it to stay fit and long-term health is important to me (especially since I know about the ill effects of not working out) but gym time doesn’t compel me as it once did and I continue to search for a goal that will help focus my efforts.
This constant reinvention and self-generated purpose becomes difficult at times, and it’s nice to get a few days off from the grind. I wish I could tell you that all fitness professionals are just wild about working out and wish they could do it every day. But that would be a big fat lie. In fact, I happen to know several trainers who work out astonishingly infrequently (and who happen to enjoy copious amounts of sweet breakfast items at any time of day). Perhaps it is a good idea to aim for a balance, one that is neither implausible to sustain (every day) nor unhealthy (once every 3 weeks—you know who you are). Life is marathonic—a series of sprints and jogs—so realize that your workouts are likely to ebb and flow over time. Just keep plugging away and allow yourself to enjoy the infrequent breaks that pop up along the way.
Keep on Movin’