Thanksgiving Damage Control: Make Fitness Fun!

November 18, 2010 at 10:50 pm , by

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When pigs fly. That’s when I thought I’d enjoy my baby sister’s boot-camp class—the one she teaches at dawn. Outside in the cold. Involving calisthenics. Me and dawn, we don’t get along. And calisthenics? Can’t think of anything more loathsome and boring. But after a number of years in which her class grew in popularity, guilt got the better of me and I told Caroline I’d attend. Dawn, my nemesis, broke on the morning in question and it was pouring rain. Of course it was. I decided what the heck, I’d do it anyway, maybe rack up a few extra sisterly love points because of the weather; what’s 45 minutes of misery in a lifelong relationship?

To my surprise, a few minutes into the class, I could  hear the flapping of little piggy wings… We broke up into supportive pairs and groups, cheering each other on, we played games—even cards!—which distracted me from the hard-core calisthenics and body-weight exercises, and despite the miserable weather it was gorgeous to be out in nature first thing in the morning. By the end of the class, I was hooked. (That’s me, the tall one in the blue raincoat.) I used to think our other sister, Isabel, was out of her mind for attending, even though it had strikingly reshaped her body. Now I get it. It’s somehow actually…fun!

Ideas on making fitness fun after the jump.

Variety, camaraderie, playfulness and being outdoors—Caroline says these are the crucial elements that will motivate anyone. Who can stand doing the same old–same old treadmill workout year after year?

I think baby sis has a point… though I think anything that makes exercise into a more multifaceted, unpredictable experience is motivating. It could be social interaction, or the beauty of nature, grooving to music, trying to learn new things or doing something that scares you just a little. If your mind is stimulated, you won’t be thinking about how hard your body is working. That’s why I love dance classes, my yoga class where we do headstands and handstands, and my latest obsession (or it would be if I had the time and money to do it): flying trapeze!

16tamaralackey[2]I was treated to a free trapeze class recently. I was petrified to jump off the platform, which is about 25 feet above the ground. And since I have a bad hip, they made me hang from a non-flying trapeze first, just to see if it would be OK for me. My thoughts were, “ow, ow, ow, hanging from this thing is HARD, I don’t have the arm strength, it hurts the back of my knees when I hang from them, I’m scared of heights, I’m gonna be terrible at this and hate it.” (My hip, by contrast, was just fine.) But then, after that first terrifying moment when they say “hup!” and you have to jump, I was flying through the air, being caught by the handsome instructor (yep, that’s me in the picture), doing a back flip into the net, and I didn’t feel a thing but exhilaration. No discomfort, no strain—it was only the sore muscles the next day that made me realize I’d gotten a workout. Add adrenaline to the list of ways to make exercise appealing.

A good friend’s family has a lovely tradition of a long hike on Thanksgiving day while the turkey is cooking. Family bonding, nature—and, yes, holiday-weight-gain damage control. Me, I’m probably going to run around on the playground with my 4-year-old son and his cousins, and maybe do a few of my sister’s hardcore, do-anywhere body-weight exercises. Or a few handstands!

What are you planning for pre- or post-turkey exercise? And how do you keep yourself motivated?