Exercise Your Way

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I learned a long time ago that exercise does not mean being a slave to the gym unless you want it to be!!

When I started working in an office in 2005, I got a gym membership and for a couple of years I used it about once a week. I would walk/run on the treadmill or use the elliptical and for awhile I even had a personal trainer. After I did Weight Watchers, I shed the unwanted pounds and switched my gym membership because I had moved to a new neighbourhood and there was a gym around the corner that I thought I would use more.

I hated it. 

It was constantly under construction. There weren’t many classes. The staff were grouchy. And the atmosphere made me feel like I was working out in a Nine Inch Nails video. I basically gave these people $600 to hate their gym. I hope they used the money wisely.

It was around that time that I realized that I was not a self motivated exerciser and that I worked much better in a class setting. It was around this time that I had a bright idea. In June 2008 I was in a production of Kismetkismet3 kismetkismet2My official title in the show was one of the “triple threat slave girls” (who shared a quarter of a brain with these three other ladies: Ashley, Jaime & Andrea). We were scantily clad with faux tans, squealed a lot and did a belly dancing number in those pastel I-Dream-Of-Jeannie lamp-hat outfits.  It was then that I thought it might be fun to take a belly dancing class as a way to work out. I signed up for my first 6 week session a few weeks later and absolutely adored it!!

For me, it’s all about working out in a way that doesn’t feel like work. When I go to belly dancing class, it’s definitely a sweat-filled, cardio, ab-focused workout, but I’m usually smiling the whole time. I love the performance element and have an amazing teacher. Taking these classes was really a turning point for me. SANY2714After that I started doing things that I enjoyed that weren’t “traditional” ways to work out: playing on a softball team, taking zumba and lyrical dance classes, practicing yoga and doing an 8 week session with Booty Camp Fitness. SANY1671 Exercise impacts our health in a variety of amazing ways – it aids in burning more calories while working out and while resting (as it has a positive impact on our metabolism), helps with long term weight maintenance and can provide us with a great sense of accomplishment.

How do you feel after you work out? I know personally, I feel pretty amazing. For me, getting up off my butt and actually doing it! By finding an activity you love, it’s going to be a lot more likely that you’re going to do it! Short on ideas? Start to think about activities you enjoyed when you were a kid. Did you do gymnastics? Play on a soccer team? Swim competitively? Take tap? How can you translate those activities into a workout you can enjoy now?

Here are some of my favourite links for activity in the Toronto area. Please feel free to add some of yours in the comments!

Joy of Dance (amazing dance classes)
Metro Movement (more amazing dance classes)
Hannan’s Bellydance Studio (fantastic bellydance studio)
Shawn Byfield (Wicked Tap & Hip Hop classes)
The Yoga Sanctuary (awesome yoga. $20 first week pass)
Goodlife Fitness (the gym that made me believe I don’t hate gyms)
Toronto Sport & Social Club (leagues for a variety of year-round sports)
Booty Camp Fitness (fabulous women’s-only boot camp)

Once you find something you love, give yourself a goal and get to it! Perhaps check out my monthly activity chart and start earning some stickers? Or decide on a activity goal for yourself whether it be the ability to do a certain thing, a race you would like to participate in or something you would like to try.

With an activity you love and a goal in mind, the sky is the limit!!


kathyj333 said...

Great post. I'm that way, too. I need a class to motivate me, but I'm also a morning exerciser—not many instructors want to get up to teach a 6 a.m. class. So I have to do what I can in that area. I can't wait for better weather so I can walk outside.

LJ said...

Great post, Ash! Like you, I was a gym hater...I was also a PE class hater in high school, a competitive sports hater, and well, a hater of anything that required coordination! Then, I discovered yoga in 1998--now I'm a yoga instructor and I practice a variety of styles with a variety of teachers at least 5 times a week--I also bike everywhere I go (I sold my car), and I feel fantastic! So, my point (lol) is that I agree with you--you have to find your own way of exercising in order to love it!


HeyitsBeth said...

I TOTALLY hear you on the "not self-motivated" thing. I absolutely need classes to get my butt to the gym! Have you ever tried Turbo Kick Boxing? I've been hooked for almost a year. It feels like dancing rather than boxing, of course.

Amanda, another priorfatgirl said...

oooo i really want to try belly dancing! i've been really into kickboxing lately, but i think belly dancing will be next when i need a change. thanks for the reminder!

Nicci said...

I love mixing my exercise up. I'm taking yoga and now...a burlesque aerobics class. hee hee.

♥AbbeyMaybe said...

love this. You make me want to work out in all the fun ways you always talk about.

Unknown said...

Hi! I consider myself a true gym rat. I love the feeling of lifting weights, burning my muscles and shaping my body. Sorry to hear you had such a bad experience. My gym (Adelaide Club) is fantastic and I'm there 4 times a week. Otherwise, we like to play Ultimate frisbee, snowboard every Sunday and recently we've picked up rock climbing...so fun! As a mom, being active is a great way to spend time as a family. We want Aidan to be active for life and the best way is to lead by example!

Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble) said...

Thanks for the links! I am new to the Toronto area and I am looking for new ways to be active!


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