It’s been said before, but when you find working out to be a boring chore you’re going to lose interest. Same old, same old. Oatmeal. Zzzzzzzzz. You get the picture. This, my friends, is being stuck in a workout rut and it happens when people don’t vary their activities.
An important part of being or getting fit is having fun. Last week, I ran around Central Park’s Great Lawn, barefoot (*), tossing a frisbee with my friend, Ian, and I burned at least as many calories as if I hopped on a treadmill with a killer incline for 45 minutes. But that’s besides the point. The real benefit was that I had a blast and wanted to keep going and going. It’s getting lost in the moment like that – taking your eyes off the clock (when I am on the treadmill I feel like I have OCD, I look at my watch so often) -that is the place, the exact spot, where exercise becomes a side effect of simply enjoying yourself. And that same crossover moment is when you realize there’s a point to all of this sweat and striving: it’s being able to laugh on a hot summer’s day as you spaz out or toss winners that fly across a big grassy field, and you might even laugh harder as you go for it and leap for a catch, as you TAKE OFF, and feel like a little kid again. Free. You hit go and your body responds.
Yes. We. Can.
All of this from frisbee? Who knew? I’m so into it, next up is to find an Ultimate team. So think about it. What’s your rediscovered sport? What did you love playing or doing when you were young that you’ve dropped from your life? Remember the time before “sports” morphed into “cardio,” back when they were fun, and this weekend, maybe take your bike out for a spin or dust off your old softball or baseball mitt. People can forget that activities they do outside of the gym actually count as fitness. Take a look at this chart and you’ll see that from horseshoe-pitching to dog-washing, any time you get off the couch you’re burning calories and working your heart.
And now for a confession (there will be many to come as I get deeper into this blog.) Don’t think, for a second, that I am a vision of athletic grace out there on the field. I am so freakin’ bad, at times strangers reading on the grass nearby literally chuckle. Make that chuckle and take cover. The whole it’ll-come-back-to-you-like-riding-a-bike principle seems to have skipped over frisbee for me: I am starting from scratch. I have vague memories of being pretty good as a kid and, well, yeah, I’m not back there yet. In fact, the first time I picked it up again, I felt like i was throwing with my left hand when I am righty – truly, my coordination was sad, the muscle memory of the throwing movement totally gone.
That said, as I know I’m not going to be a professional frisbee player, I’m under no pressure to wow anyone. It’s okay to STINK, and from my lowly starting place I can see improvement every time I go out to play. The key is to go easy on yourself and to play with someone who is cool and non-judgmental, like my frisbee sensei, Ian, the King of Calm. He’s teaching me technique and I’m gobbling it up…and if I make a particularly lame toss, I sprint extra hard after the frisbee as it soars towards the branches of a tree as a kind of plebe penance (don’t want to keep Master Ian waiting…) We end our sessions with high-fives, smiles, and me winded and wiped out — all good things:) Simple pleasures are pretty fab.
*Just in case the thought of being barefoot in Central Park sends shudders up your spine, rest assured I was not tip-toeing through a syringe and broken glass-filled dustbowl. The Great Lawn is indeed great these days and the grass is amazingly lush. Seriously – it’s an overlooked treasure, “hidden” right under our noses, one of the nicer public spaces in NYC. Hope to see you out there!