Choosing how you get fit


challenge-and-change.jpgIf you’ve come to this blog and read anything, you have probably figured out that I got fit by doing two (I always say “do two things”), but how I chose them is a fascinating discussion.  It requires a little bit of background.

When I was young, I was lucky enough to try out many sports until I found one that I loved – I found badminton.  While not the most popular sport for your average Canadian kid, I really enjoyed it, more than football and certainly more than hockey.  It was fast, it required strength, agility and hand-eye co-ordination, and there was both individual competition and a team/squad spirit.  It really pinged a lot of bells for me.  Part of my training when I was a kid was running – badminton requires a lot of endurance and a good cardio-vascular capacity, and as running and speed were integral to the sport, we ran.  We ran quite a bit, through drills, through sprints, and through distance runs.

When I decided to get healthy, I knew one of my goals was to get back to playing badminton – so I joined a club right away, the first week of January – and I fell in love all over again.  I could barely move – I was big, I was round, and I was slow – but it was amazing the feel of being back out there.  Over the coming months, as my fitness improved dramatically, I started to really think about how I got to where I was, to where I was shedding weight, and to where I was becoming really fit and competitive, and I came up with my rule of Do Two Things.  I’ve talked about this before, and it’s an old theory – they call it “cross-training”.

When my friend @momma2macy (who is still helping me with a few posts, including giving me the idea for this one) decided to get active and fit, she took the Do Two Things advice, but looked at the now rather than at the past like I did.  She looked at current trends and what excited her, and she actually struck out and did three: Zumba, yoga, and running.  To give her proper credit, she completed her first 5k organized run in the Running Room’s Resolution Run on January 1, 2013 well done!

No matter what you choose to do, I still think there are a couple of simple rules that you should live by:

  1. Do, or find, something that you love to do.  Mine was badminton, and I found it by looking back.  Maybe yours is swimming, because you want to take a big tropical holiday next year and want to learn to scuba dive.  Maybe yours is squash, which you always wanted to try, and now there are beginner sessions at your local community gym.  Maybe it really is hockey or football or soccer, and you’re able to get into a league where you play more than once a week and it isn’t just about beer with the team after.  Whatever, pick up something that you loved again, or find something new.If you are having trouble, @momma2macy has some advice: browse the online catalogue for your local recreation centre. Classes are generally once a week for 6-10 weeks and its a great way to try out new activities! If you love it, sign up again – if you didn’t like it, pick something different next time. This is how she found out she loves Zumba and yoga, and in fact is how I found a “Yoga for runners” class. Even better – throw it out to some friends, as chances are someone else will want to try it to, and it is much harder to drop something if your friends are counting on you.  @momma2macy’s goals this year include trying 2 different activities, and right now she’s got her eye on cardio kickboxing when her running training eases up a bit.  I’ve even seen some community courses for medieval sword fighting (2″ dowel not included) – I’m not kidding!
  2. Do cardio.  There is no substitute for cardiovascular training, also known as aerobic training.  Bearing in mind I’m not a trainer, and am friends with several folks who are, but if you get your cardio training in order, you will have a much better capacity to do anything you want.  You will shed weight, you will increase the amount of oxygen you can take in when you are training or playing or working out or having fun, and you will be able to do anything you want, and at a moments’ notice.  Cardio training can be:
    • Running, of which I am a huge proponent
    • Cycling – stationary or out on the road
    • Swimming
    • Aerobics classes (hello leg warmers and Olivia Newton-John!)
    • Cross-country skiing
    • In fact, a whole lot of really fun activities – if you want a fairly good list you can see one here.

What those things are are up to you.  Go find them.  Do something FUN.  Getting fit doesn’t have to be boring.  Most people don’t understand my badminton playing – but then again I’m planning on going to Turin, Italy to compete this year, and I get to see Italy because of my badminton, so it sits well for me.

Go be inspired.  Go have fun.  Just go!

(I know that I promised that this post would be on motivation, and it isn’t.  I’m sorry for that, but it seemed that this post was a little more important to get out first.  Motivation is coming in the next few days, I promise – it’s only the second, so keep your spirits up!  The next post is going to be a beginning guide for runners, so stay tuned!)
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