Free as a Bird

As per my fitness plan for this week, I went to a grueling spinning class this afternoon. Honestly, I couldn’t wait for it. Today work was just…there are no words. I remember looking at the clock and it was 10 AM and then I practically blinked and it was 3PM. I hadn’t eaten lunch, my stomach was rumbling, this customer kept calling (for absolutely no reason), and I could feel the tension building.


There was still a mountain of work to be done, but it could wait. I plan on just going in early and possibly staying quite late. (In case you were wondering, I’m not especially looking forward to Wednesday. One day closer to the weekend, right?)

Spinning was exactly what I thought it would be, what I knew it would be: an hour long session of focused riding interspersed with jumps, climbs and speed work. The music was blasting in my ears and the flashy cord lighting was pulsing to the beat of the music.

And that’s when this revelation hit me – smack – just like a big red double decker bus. Here I was, trying to squeeze in a workout, but why? To stay slim? To be healthy? To de-stress?

I knew I’d jumped into a proverbial rabbit hole and instead of turning back, I let myself fall down, down, down. (Keep in mind, this is all taking place while I’m climbing at high resistance to an upbeat techno song that reminds me vaguely of Dance Dance Revolution).

What drives us to go to the gym or hit the pavement two, three or four times a week? More importantly, when did we stop having fun and start working out?

Looking back over my life, I think I can pinpoint an exact moment.

When I was 8, life was all about playing tag, racing on the playground to the tree and back, and soccer. There was no such thing as “working out” and all I cared about was the weather. Being from Seattle, it was not nearly as much fun to play tag, race or kick a soccer ball around in a torrential downpour.

When I was 13, life was all about soccer, soccer, soccer. Oh and soccer. I was extremely competitive and played on multiple teams. All year, I was traveling – across the state on weekends for tournaments or to the next town over for my indoor team. Boys were nearly nonexistent to me and I was lucky enough not to be obsessed with my body image or self-esteem (thank goodness). So I didn’t play soccer or sports in general to stay slim or be healthy. I just enjoyed it. Alot.

When I was 17, life was still about soccer, but also about track and field. It was also about boys and going out on weekends to hang out with friends. Sports still dominated my life, but the motivation was never to look good in my Homecoming dress or go down a jeans size. Sports were fun and as long as I was having fun, that was all I cared about.

When I was 22, sports no longer played such a dominant role in life. When I went to college, I decided to pursue other passions. I knew I could play soccer, so I didn’t feel the need to try and play throughout college. It was time for a change. With soccer out of the picture, I had to turn to more traditional methods to stay in shape. After all, I had to pass an annual fitness test to stay in the Air Force.

Somewhere in my early 20’s, I stopped having fun and I started working out. I blame the Air Force.

Just kidding.

It’s just crazy to think through the evolution of my fitness life. Sometimes I long for the days when I was free as a bird and life was just about playing tag and laughing joyfully out on the playground.

Now, I hit the gym straight lipped because I feel overwhelmed and stressed out by work. Working out is a stress reliever and 90% enjoyable, but I wouldn’t say it’s as freeing as being a kid running haplessly around on a soccer field.

Working out is a lifestyle and not one that comes naturally, in my opinion. Running around on the playground or playing your favorite sport comes naturally. At one point, you have to figure out what helps make hitting the gym fun or else it won’t become a lifestyle, it’ll just become a phase in your life, a fad.

When did you start working out? What makes hitting the gym fun for you?


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