I remember being 8 years old and playing “Tag” late into a warm, summer evening. Barefoot, I padded through the dewy, emerald glades of my neighbor’s lawn, as I prepared to sprint for the designated safe area. My heart pounded to the breathless countdown in my head.
Three. Thud. Two. Thud, thud. One. And…GO!
My limbs roared to life, gathering speed beneath me with every stride. I took off flying around the corner, aware that my brother would be in hot pursuit within seconds. The wind whipped through my hair, and I heard the tell-tale rhythm of my brother’s gait close behind me. I urged my feet on faster, faster, faster. And then, as if in slow motion, I dove through the air and tumbled into the grass. SAFE. My limbs and lungs both burned with exertion, but I laughed. It was fun—pure and simple.
Fast forward 11 years, and it feels like I live in different world. That fun of my childhood days is now called ‘working out.’ But for many more, it is a chore, a personal obligation, or even a societal necessitation. As we grow older, it seems that fitness becomes valued for what it produces rather than the act itself. It is equated with calories or a weight loss target; six pack abs or buns of steel; number of miles run or pounds lifted.
As insecurity and aesthetics come into play, fitness loses its prior simplicity and becomes quite complicated. We exercise to fit into wedding dresses or to achieve the perfect summer beach bod. It becomes a way to negate the guilt we feel for something else—our body’s natural imperfections or mind’s mistakes. Quite frequently, we use fitness with the sole intent of justifying what we eat, whether that means a Thanksgiving feast or a dessert indulgence. Regardless of the reason, we often exercise with “fun” far from the mind. Honestly but no less hesitantly, I can admit that I am guilty of this. And maybe, you have the courage to admit that you are, too.
But perhaps we as foodies, college kids, man or woman can make true fitness a goal together. We can make it a goal to find a form of fitness we love, without dwelling on its latent effects. We can exercise our ability to challenge our bodies both mentally and physically. We can remember that there exists such a thing as exercise for the sake of exercise itself. Not to lose weight; to make amends for what we eat; or to beautify our bodies. But rather, just because—just because at the end of the day, fitness need only be one thing:
**4 Tips for Making Fitness Fun**
1. Find a form of fitness you love. I spent years trying to convince myself that I wanted to be a hard core marathon runner. The truth of the matter though is that running 26.2 miles doesn’t appeal to me, and my body isn’t keen on it either. But hot yoga? Well, that’s another story. It may leave me looking like a veritable hot mess, but at least I’m a happy hot mess. Maybe you despise yoga and love running or prefer sports over both. Don’t make it a matter of which will burn more fat or impress your friends. Choose your form of fitness with the intent of adding a smidgen of fun to your day, with the knowledge that the choice is a fun activity in and of itself. So it’s totally up to you. Because when it comes to fitness, a little love goes a long way. Funny how that works.
2. Grab a friend. When it comes to working out, friends are the shizznit. They add an element of social interaction to exercise that makes it enjoyable, while providing that ever so subtle get-off-your-butt motivation. Jogging with a friend makes for great inspiration and conversation, and sports take on a entirely new dimension with a partner in tow. Best of all, group fitness classes like Zumba provide the opportunity to show off one’s woeful ability (or lack thereof, in my case) to shake some booty. Shakira’s hips may not lie, but if yours do, rest assured you’ll get an awesome core workout from laughing uncontrollably with your friend.
3. Try something new. Have you heard of workout ruts? Uh huh, just like bad hair days, they’re totally the real deal. For me, running longer distances every day started to get boring fast—like my iPod was unchangeably stuck on repeat. So I ditched Chris Brown’s advice to “Run It!” and decided to go with Lady Gaga’s suggestion to “Just Dance.” Brilliant. Despite the fact that I’m a totally uncoordinated goober, I found myself loving a good hour of crazy dancing. I may never appear on “So You Think You Can Dance,” but that won’t stop me from mixing up my routine. Try out yoga for a mind-body exercise, sign up for a mud run, or perhaps even, get into the gardening groove. You’d be surprised what a hoe can do.
4. Make it a challenge. I know, I know—workouts are already challenging enough, right? But this is a different. I’m talking about a challenge with a little but of personal or friendly competition. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy—just enough to motivate you to extricate your body from the couch. For a simple challenge, go with a classic 30-day pact with a friend to do X number of pushups and sit-ups per day. If you’re feeling a bit more intense, declare a full-fledged competition with a sibling to nail a yoga pose or sprint for the fastest time. Of course, a challenge wouldn’t be complete without a prize. Friendly popsicles for two, or whip your brother’s butt and demand that he buy you lunch. Yes, brother dearest—that’s a standing challenge.
Lexi Cotcamp is a rising sophomore at Georgetown University and admitted yuppie, who loves dark chocolate almost as much as she loves Down Dog. She prefers rock climbing to cross country, thinks hot yoga is heartwarming, and may or may not count running late as exercise.