I recently started training a 14 year old girl. She’s never been interested in organized sports and the idea of exercise is, well, a turnoff for her. She doesn’t understand how people can ‘LOVE’ exercise and finds it odd that people actually do it every day. For me, I totally get it. I too was a teen that resisted exercise because it looked like too much work for something I wasn’t good at. Friends of mine that were athletic, were naturally athletic. I had to work too hard to look like I sort of knew what I was doing, and failed miserably. It had a negative affect on my self esteem and only reminded me how uncoordinated I was. Athletics was was not my thing, so I stayed away from any kind of exercise because I thought being uncoordinated meant you couldn’t exercise. After all, exercise was for fit people, not me.
This past week when I was working with my new client she said, “Nicki, why is exercise always taught to be so hard? When I exercise with you I feel like I’m out on the playground with my friends, it’s fun.” She couldn’t have paid me a higher compliment. What I said to her was, “Exercise is fun, you just have to find the right activity for you. Anyway, exercise is just a formal word for moving fun!” The truth is that for everyone, moving is necessary. When I was a kid we were outside all the time playing. We didn’t have access to snack food the way kids do today and we didn’t have computers to entertain us the way kids do. There are more reasons for kids to sit today rather than reasons to move. We need to remind those kids that aren’t athletes that moving doesn’t have to be about sports. We also need to remind them of genetics and that every body is different. We need to teach them to embrace their body vs. being ashamed because they’re not the same size as the latest reality star. We need to encourage kids to realize the potential of their body and that it is designed to move, they just have to find the movement that feeds their soul, increases their self-esteem and is FUN!”
Unfortunately, kids that aren’t ‘natural’ athletes believe that they can’t be active, but that thought couldn’t be further from the truth. We need to make exercise fun for both kids and adults alike. I have plenty of adult clients that loathe exercise and it’s my job to create an environment of fun. If they’re having fun, they’re going to keep coming back to it and feel good about their experience. If we put exercise in to such a structured box that it becomes exclusive, we will lose a lot of people to inactive lifestyles.
There is no better time than now to teach kids and adults that exercise (formal word for fun movement) can be fun. Create a playground in your basement, or in your backyard that includes a variety of games and activities. There is an abundance now of video games that encouragse activity including Dance, Dance, Revolution, Wii Fit and Dance Mania. If I would have known that exercise didn’t have to be about going to a gym and humiliating myself through some poorly suited exercise class, or joining an organized sport, I think I would have been a lot more active. But kids and adults now have the opportunity to find FUN in exercise. As a fitness professional, that’s always my goal to help them do just that!
Here’s to finding fun in your fitness routine!