Making Fitness Fun

My cousin shared a link on twitter yesterday, which led to a short feature on Kacy Catanzaro, the first female to complete the final course of American Ninja Warrior.  ANJ is a reality television show in which contestants attempt to complete challenging obstacle courses – “attempt” is the operative word here, as many do not even finish the course in the qualifying round – for the best time.  I would say that I was impressed by Catanzaro, but that would be an understatement.  Her performance knocked my socks off and lit a fire under me.

If you’re like me, and typically don’t watch video clips (reading is faster and more efficient, right??), do yourself a favor and watch this one.  There’s no question that this girl is strong, but it was not just her strength (and agility and stamina and so on) that left an impression on me, but her determination to finish the course and her clear delight in the process.  Fitness should make life more fulfilling.  Training is meant to have a purpose, not to be done to merely to “tone up” or “slim down” or atone for dietary indulgences.  [Sidenote: Exercise is wonderful, everyone should do it often and in whatever capacities they’re able to, but the benefits of exercise go far beyond weight maintenance.  Furthermore, exercise is not a panacea for weight loss.  That’s a topic I plan to cover in its own post soon, but in the meantime, check out any of these  articles for further reading.] The point is, Catanzaro was clearly having fun.  She was competing, sure, but there was a spirit of joy in the whole process.  And that made me think about my own training and how much fun I have with it.  Working around an injury these days has made things a little frustrating at times, but even before that I was at a point where something needed to change.  I was doing too much of everything and not having nearly enough fun with any of it.  I was lifting, but not training for a strongman competition or in prep for a bikini/figure contest (God knows I’m not cut out for that life!).  I was running, but not training for any races (which may be why the race I did without training ended so disappointingly).  I was doing yoga (ok, I still am), but not practicing at a studio or really progressing much.  So I got to thinking about how to make my training something that I truly delight in…kind of a fitness-bucket-list, if you will…because life is way to short to do anything half-assed.

Here are a few things from my list:

  • Complete an obstacle race.  I volunteered at a Tough Mudder in the San Bernadino mountains two summers ago when my brother and one of my best friends were doing it, and it looked incredibly fun.  Hard, but fun.  The Warrior Dash looks like a greater starter-race (it’s a 5K plus obstacles and mud and, God willing, some shirtless firefighters…although that might just be wishful thinking), and the Spartan Race is supposed to be incredibly tough.  The Alpha Warrior looks incredible, and it’s different because there is no running.  It’s purely an obstacle course, and it looks pretty damn fun. (Sadly, the website doesn’t have any upcoming event dates listed, so it may not exist anymore.)
  • Run in a RAGNAR relay.  I heard about RAGNAR relays about a year ago, but it wasn’t until a month ago that I actually figured out what it is – an overnight relay race of roughly 200 miles.  You do it in teams of 12, so each person runs 3 legs of the relay, and each leg is 3-8 miles long.  It sounds like a big sweaty nomadic sleepover, filled with lots of endorphins and spandex and Gatorade.  The locations are amazing, as well.  I’d love to do the Northwest Passage (goes from inland Washington all the way to the coast), the Washington DC (you go by the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial), or the Colorado (you run across the Rockies!) course.
  • Try my hand at strongman.  Tara, the blogger at Sweat Like a Pig, is the first person who made me think  training for strongman.  She’s a total stud and has fallen in love with the sport, and reading about her training and competitions has me itching to give it a shot.  Admittedly, a big part of this might just be my desire to find out if I can successfully flip a tire or do a log press.  I would love to take a strongman training class and dip my toes in the water!
  • Take an aerial silks class.  I fully admit that I have fantasies of being a Cirque de Soliel performer, which have their roots in my childhood fascination with trapeze artists.  It was practically a spiritual experience when I first saw P!nk’s performance from the 2010 Grammy’s (watch it HERE), and I still get chills every time I watch it.  If I can’t sing and dance like her, then you can damn well bet that I’ll just swing myself around in some silk wraps and pretend.  It may end up looking like 50 Shades of Gray-meets-The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar, but all art comes with a price.
  • Climb Mount Whitney.  It’s the highest point in the lower 48 states, and the elevation increases by more than 6,000 feet in 10 miles.  Some people might not consider hiking to be as much fitness related as it is outdoorsy/adventure-y, but this is a big climb that would require plenty of physical preparation and training.  Also, it sounds like an amazing adventure that does not involve jumping off of/out of a bridge or airplane (I get hives at the mere thought or skydiving or bungee jumping), but would require the mental fitness to get over my irrational fear of bears, mountain lions, and various other creatures that might want to eat me.  I’ve already made plans to pre-game by hiking Mount Shasta with my dad within the year.
  • Learn to dance.  I only took a couple years of dance lessons as a kid, but I wish I had enjoyed it enough to stick with it.  At the time, I just found it patronizing that they made us 6 year-olds skip around the room in circles for most of ballet class.  I wanted to be learning how to do a grand jete, for Pete’s sake.  Anyway, once I was in high school, I started to wish I could pick up dance once again, but I was convinced that I was “too fat” and “not fit enough” to dance.  These days IDGAF if I’m a littlesquishier than the stereotypical dancer, and I know that my strength would be an asset in my practice.  Dance combines so many things I love – art and storytelling and movement – into one form, and I would love to find a studio to take classes in tap, contemporary, hip hop, and whatever else I can get my paws on.

Discuss:

Do you have fun with your training?

What’s on your fitness bucket list?

Who wants to join me for the Warrior Dash/RAGNAR/aerial class/any of the above???

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8 thoughts on “Making Fitness Fun

  1. YES! I love this. I used to train to lose weight but my reasons have shifted. I was training for a marathon but then realized that it was not making me happy so I made the tough decision to “quit”. It made me miserable. Now I’m doing CF which I am sooo loving. It’s fun, I leave fulfilled and that’s so refreshing!

    OMG RAGNAR was one of the best weekends I’ve had. It was exhausting in the best way and soooo much fun. I only knew three people I was on a team with and it was still a blast. I’m want to run more! ☺️

    1. I remember I started reading your blog back when you decided to move on from marathon training. Good for you for making the decision to pursue something that is more rewarding for you! 🙂

      And man, now I really want to do RAGNAR! Which one did you do??

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