It's a question I've been mulling over for many years.
Until I found Tae Kwon Do, my workouts were inconsistent at best. Exercise habits that I'd established over many months would collapse if I were sick or travelling.
Martial arts did it for me. But what about those who don't love memorizing forms or enjoy the challenges and rewards of mastering techniques?
I've come to two conclusions about anything that lasts: 1. we only do what we want--not should--do; 2. the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves , the emotions they evoke, and beliefs they confirm or dispel, determine our willingness to keep coming back.
My goal: to create a workout that is effective and accessible to people of a wide range of fitness and capabilities, a workout that people want to do.
1. Make it fun.
This sounds so cliché, doesn't it? Worse, some part of us doesn't really trust fun. Fun is frivolous and flighty, not solid enough to be the reason for something as important as our health and fitness.
"Fun" is a difficult word to define because it is used so loosely. Catherine Pierce, who recently published the book "The Power Of Fun" eventually had to come up with a label "True Fun" that represents her idea.
For me, "fun" includes delight, laughter, curiosity, mischievousness, a sense of anything can happen, and not taking ourselves too seriously.
WHACK-A-MOLE PILLOW FIGHT, ANYONE?
In Songahm Tae Kwon Do, there is traditional sparring as well as combat weapon sparring. If "combat weapon" sounds fierce, it really isn't. In reality, it is a pillow-on-a-stick.
If you've never wielded one of these foam sticks to try to hit an opponent, who is doing the same to you, you are missing out on one of life's delights. In my dojang, adults students love this activity because it inevitably results in raucous laughing fits.
Anything that makes us laugh is good, right? But did you know that you'd be working at a high intensity hear rate. And because you're laughing, you're not aware of how hard you're breathing.
In my book, this is the best way to get a high intensity cardio workout.
Nobody wants to feel like a failure. We know that they are often stepping stones to deeper learning but we don't welcome them: if an activity makes us feel like failures, we avoid it.
The truth is, working out is uncomfortable. Our muscles, our hearts, our lungs and especially our ancient brain think it is madness.
If someone tries to exercise regularly by attending a HIIT class--which is likely, because once something grabs a hold of the public's awareness, everyone jumps onto the band wagon--they will tell themselves the discomfort is proof that they are even more unfit than they thought. It is then much easier to give up than to keep doing something that mocks and intimidates us.
THE INSANITY OF IT
Do you remember insanity workouts? These are hard workouts meant to be done 6 days a week for 60 days. I know they have helped some people kick start a new habit. (Anecdotally, these did not translate into a consistent workout habit for many.)
With HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training, being all the rage these days, it's easy to overlook other types of workout.
If you think you have to get your heart rate to peak zone every time your wok out of it doesn't count, and you don't like the "I'm-going-to-die" feeling--remember, no matter how fit you are, working at that zone will feel very uncomfortable--it is very understandable to feel reluctance
"I love doing something that makes me feel not good enough." Says no one, ever.
Zone 2 training, the much overlooked and less flamboyant cousin of peak workouts, turns out to be just as important. And it is VERY accessible.
the added benefit is that it won't make anyone feel like failures as they get a necessary workout. And that, will get rid of the resistance we feel when it comes to working out. As far as motivation goes, being able to do something well and wanting to do it goes hand-in-had.
So, instead of being intimidated by super hard workouts and having to white-knuckle it, we look forward to doing something that is a little challenging and something doable.
What a concept: workouts that we'll look forward to doing.