Finding Your Niche: if you think hate exercise, then read this.

But I  just hate exercise…

I have heard so many people say this, so many times. Everybody thinks that they hate exercise- end of. But what if you don’t actually hate exercise? Just the exercise that you’re currently doing? What if it’s that you’re forcing yourself into certain sports because you’re afraid of what people will say? (Bro, do you even lift?), or because you’re friends are doing it? (come on, we’re all going to Pilates!), or even because its the only thing you’ve ever known? (but I’ve played netball since high school!).

Stop.

I used to hate exercise too. Yep, the girl who consistently gets up early three days a week to go to the gym and do weights or HIIT, who walks (nearly) everywhere (weather and threat- to -hair dependent), who loves a stretch with some yoga and adores rock climbing- she used to hate exercise.

In high school our sporting options were very limited: netball. Dodgeball if we were lucky. Football for the guys. The first time I began to get into exercise was when I discovered YouTube, and so Pilates (so much for computers meaning all us kids were glued to our seats).

As a child I had loved swimming, but as I got older the adult prices meant it wasn’t feasible to go a couple of times a week. My parents have always advocated walking, and so that has been a massive constant in my life- and having a dog also helps. But when I hit my teens, before Pilates came along, walking was pretty much the only exercise I did.  I still have a burning hatred for PE lessons, where the idea of getting us active meant putting us in an unflattering gym kit, and forcing us to go for a run in the cold. And I really believe that this concept of exercise sticks with many of us as we grow up.  The above was what I thought exercise was, because no one introduced me to the numerous options out there.

If you’ve been following my ‘My Favourite Moves’ posts so far (I’ll link them all below), then hopefully you’ll know by now that exercise is all about options. And so today, as my last post in the series) I am introducing you to ALL of the forms of keeping active I have personally tried so far. Are there any that appeal to you? If there is, then go try them! You may discover that it’s not that you hate exercise, just the exercise you know of thus far…

 

Rock climbing

If you aren’t scared of heights then get yourself to a bouldering or climbing wall. This is something I find to be a bit of an adrenaline rush at times (depending on wall difficulty and height), and it challenges every area of your body.

TIP! Use your legs to push as you reach for, and pull yourself up on to, the next bit of a wall. It’s not just about upper-body strength here.

Yoga

This is my favourite thing at the end of a long day (not counting a shower/bath, good food, and a book). If you want to improve flexibility, or struggle with anxiety, then opt for yoga. You don’t have to attend a class (check out Yoga With Adrienne on YouTube), and you don’t have to be amazing at it- you don’t “do” yoga, you “practice” it.

 TIP! There are different kinds of yoga; some are harder than others, some are more restorative. Make sure you check what you’re signing up to. Dynamic and Power Yoga are my favourites when I want a challenge, Restorative when I want to relax.

Pilates

Again, you can do this online; check out Blogilates for encouraging and easy beginner’s videos, or more advanced ones. This is like yoga in that it will stretch you, but it’s faster moving, and has more of a focus on toning than on relaxing the mind. For something that covers both yoga and Pilates, check out Piloxing further down the list.

Weight Lifting

One of my all time favourites. Pick something heavy up, put it back down. Its much more common to see girls in the weights room now, and why not? Its an awesome way to boost your metabolism all day long, and it’s increased my strength so much.

TIP! This form of exercise complements the rock climbing as you develop your muscles and grip strength, and I’ve also found that this has improved my balancing postures and inversions in Yoga. A word of caution: make sure your form is correct to avoid injury. If you can, hire a PT just to show you the ropes- one or two sessions can be enough when you’re on a budget. If this really isn’t an option then a lot of people I know swear by BodyBuilding.com and The Lean Machines for educating yourself on form.

HIIT

For people who hate cardio but love working up a sweat. If treadmills, cross trainers, and bikes aren’t your thing then check this out. You repeat a set of exercises, each exercise for a set amount of time with a short rest period between each, to create a circuit. You then repeat this circuit several times through. Speed is the aim. HIIT can be cardio or weights or plyo (explosive movements like jump lunges and jump squats) focused, so there are plenty of options. You can scroll to the bottom of the post to see my favourite routines…

Walking

Again, another relaxing one. My flatmate told me yesterday how much she hates exercise and would rather be in her pjs in bed- then proceeded the next day to tell me about the lovely amble about the city she had had being a flaneur (A French term we use on English Lit, particularly on Modernist modules- check it out on Google). She did a solid 40 minute round walk, and then told me she’d done no exercise. If you’re a I-hate-all-exercise-person, then begin with walking places.

TIP! If you’re in sloth mode this may not sound appealing, but a walk in the morning is amazing, especially when you get to see the sunrise.

Running

Walking’s more demanding cousin. I only tend to run when my dog gets off of her lead, but if you love to move fast and cover a lot of ground then this could be for you. Again, morning or evening runs are beautiful- just make sure you wear reflective gear if its dark, and trainers with good ankle support.

Team Games

My oldest friend plays netball consistently , and has done since we were 11. She’s nearly 21 now. If you like working with others who have a similar passion in the exercise field, and prefer to play a sport where you get a whole season off (i.e. netball season is September to some time in the winter I think), then try this. You have netball, tennis, badminton, football, dodgeball, rugby etc. My experiences with team sports haven’t been so great due to high school, but I have to admit a game of dodgeball does still hold some appeal…

Kickboxing

Ahhh, I’m looking to get back into this one. I only did this for a couple of months, but it’s pretty intense, and you get self-defense skills thrown in to a high-powered workout. There’s a lot of focus on your form, and how you hold yourself, and I promise you will feel incredibly powerful after a session.

Piloxing

A new-ish one. I heard about this around 2 years ago: it’s a combination of kick boxing, pilates, and dance. I you want to test the water with the first two, and keep the boxing element non-contact, whilst incorporating a sense of rhythm, then try this one.

High Wire Courses

These are more of a luxury fitness thing. I’ve done a high wire course once, and it was well worth the money. Go Ape is a great company for these if you’re in the UK. Think of an obstacle course in the air, with a massive zip line at the end for fun. Just bring plenty of food and water to refuel, and pray that the typical British weather takes a day off.

TIP! Wear layers. We went in April and it was freezing – gloves are a must.

Hiking/ Extended Walking

If you live or are on holiday somewhere scenic then try this. It can be a great way to see spots of natural beauty, especially if you can find a National Trust Route. Just make sure you follow a map, and people known where you’ve gone. Oh, and wear comfy shoes obviously.

TIP! If you’re in or around Bath, then do the Bath Skyline Walk- it’s beautiful.

Swimming

Another relaxing one- if you can get to the pool when it isn’t full of kids. Try a couple of different times of day to find your preference, and vary the strokes you try to find ones you like.

Yogalates

This combines yoga and pilates, so that you can focus on increasing strength and tone, as well as stretching and doing a little bit of relaxing.

Spinning

If you prefer cardio then have a go at spinning. I find that these classes really depend on the instructor. You’ll be on a bike for around 30-45 minutes, pedalling at various speeds and resistances to music. Beware; the smaller the class, the more the instructor is likely to call you out on not turning the resistance up high enough. It’s a laugh, but probably not for the faint-hearted.

Bike Riding

A gentler version of the above, that puts you more in control. This one is self explanatory, but again wear reflective gear if it’s dark.

TIP! Don’t be one of those nobs that weaves in and out of traffic.

Zumba

I feel incredibly sexy in these classes, but they’re also a great laugh. You’ll dance for around an hour, pretty much non-stop, to songs with a strong beat. There are many different moves, the routines are fairly easy to pick up, and its a wonderful choice if you do want to go and workout with friends. Don’t worry: no one is an expert, it’s just a laugh.

Aerotone

This combines strength training and cardio: thus ‘aero’ (aerobic) and ‘tone’ (toning). Think a bit of a more jumping around dance class, with some light weights thrown in.

Basically, whatever floats your boat: go with it. You may dip in and out of different ways of exercising, or combine a few. I tend to go through phases depending on how I’m feeling and how much time I have. Remember, just because you love one way of exercising at one stage of your life, it doesn’t mean you “have” to love it forever!

And here are some other ways of exercising that I still want to try out…

  1. Pole Dancing
  2. Tai Chi
  3. Boxing
  4. Bootcamp classes

 

And here are my previous “Favourite Moves/Exercises” posts…

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