Yes, Exercise can be fun!

Yes, Exercise can be fun!

Michelle Bridges wrote an interesting article in the SMH’s Sunday Life’s confused BODY issue last weekend and it’s got lots of PT’s all riled up.

Check it out here if you like, the general gist was that while exercise has many benefits, it’s not fun and should not be peddled as such. Later saying the article was  “tongue in cheek” on twitter, it didn’t come off so well in the BODY issue. 

The BODY issue itself was inconsistent, on one page publishing curvy bloggers, and a dancer who overcame body issues and on others actively promoting the Dukan diet. Really? This diet has been proven to be dangerous and nutritionally deficient. Statistically this woman will regain her weight and more. Are we still going to be fed this fat shaming/ pro-diet by the media? Understandably there is a backlash.  Read here for a wonderful open letter to the magazine, which echoed many of my own thoughts.

I expected more from a magazine with a tagline – Body. Mind. Inspiration. – I have secretly harboured a hope that one day my own “Mind” writings might find a home on their pages. I was disappointed and found the article on Dukan and Michelle Bridges’ column on exercise a bit irresponsible, and not inspiring at all.

Surely with the current research on self-compassion and the many proven negative effects of fat-shaming, inspiring people to get outside and do some form of activity that they can enjoy would be more inspiring.

Not everyone wants to be a “ripped” athlete.

What is not taken into account in this article is that not everyone wants to be lean and ripped. Not everyone needs to be smashed till they vomit like they do on Biggest Loser. Yes HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a great way to burn fat and skyrocket fitness, but it’s not the only way to exercise. Surely it is more important to get the majority of people out doing any type of exercise or activity, and one that they intrinsically enjoy will be a much more lasting motivation than something they hate, or only do for extrinsic reasons, like to get skinny, or because their trainer told them to.

Another key point not considered is that fun is different for different people: maybe “hanging out on the deck of a luxurious yacht on Sydney Harbour, being waited on by svelte Latino boys wearing nought but a pair of boardies and a sailor’s hat” is fun for Michelle, (even tongue in cheek fun) but it’s not really my cup of tea, I’d rather go for a bike-ride through the park with my husband and daughter.

It’s funny too, I actually was thinking “Gee this is fun”, as I was jogging up Heartbreak Hill last weekend. I was listening to Tony Robbins interview Deepak Chopra (I know I’m a total geek) and thinking about how wonderful it was to be in a sea of so many inspired human beings, of all shapes and sizes, getting out and challenging themselves in the name of fitness, fun and fundraising. I genuinely thought that as I was coming up the hill from Double Bay. It was fun for me because of my mindset about it. The fact that the run was getting challenging didn’t really enter my mind.


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Your mind. Your world.

Human beings have the ability to make anything fun or torture, based on their perceptions. Even a massively challenging workout that makes you “suck in the big ones” can be fun, if you think of it in terms of challenging yourself and seeing what you are capable of.

Michelle makes an excellent point at the end, “Focus on the outcome of your workouts. That way, being uncomfortable while you’re exercising doesn’t take the front seat.” Which would have been better being the key to her article. If she had elaborated more on what you focus on “front seat” and what you defocus or ignore, she could have come up with an inspiring article about being able to make any workout fun, and to focus on the fun things in any workout and afterwards.

There’s an unspoken paradigm from the perspective of counting and discounting in here that unsettles me. The paradigm is that only really intense workouts count, and that’s simply not true. For many people the exercise that counts most is the daily walk or weekend soccer match that is enjoyable, and because of that, is done consistently each week.

Instead of inspiring more people to get out and do something that they enjoy, and give themselves permission to have a great time exercising, it’s probable this article disheartened many of Australia’s overweight or obese from even getting started, thinking that they need to torture themselves in order for their exercise to count.

Fun exercise counts too.

Remember that you have the ability to make anything fun, through your perception and framing of it. Fun exercise counts. Light exercise, and really challenging exercise can be fun in the moment and also reap lasting benefits afterwards.

Notice your self talk around how you exercise and what you do? Are you buying into the “I must smash myself in every workout” paradigm? Or the “exercise is not fun” paradigm? Don’t buy it! You’re in charge of your mind and your thoughts. If you focus on the joy of being able to move and challenge yourself and you can find the fun in any workout.

Comments (6)

  1. Thank you for this great blog post Kylie, I totally agree with you! All exercise is in the eye of the beholder and sustainability is the key to achieving long term fitness. And nothing makes anything more sustainable for humans than FUN!

  2. Well said Kylie, totally agree with all you’ve said. YOU should be writing articles for these mags, a voice of reason amongst the voices of guilting and shaming,

    • Thanks Heather! Of course, I agree! I’d love to have the platform to share my mission with Australia, and help change the mindsets with some logical and compassionate reason & coaching! xx

  3. Thanks Thomas, I felt it really needed to be said.

  4. The trouble with someone becoming the country’s “Guru de Jour” on anything to do with fitness and weight loss when they have either never been through any of the issues so many of us struggle with, OR are in total denial about it, is that they have no empathy, understanding or tolerance for the vast majority of us.
    The other day I was talking to someone who HATES exercise, struggles massively with body confidence issues and the ONLY way she could be enticed to exercise is to make it fun. Although I am not into zumba myself, that’s why Zumba has become a massive hit: because women enjoy it and have fun!
    I am sure MB was advised to have that article written (cos I doubt she wrote it) to deliberately provoke people…which obviously has worked as you wrote your article and we are now commenting! BUT I think it is a real, real shame that this is the message the media likes to publish, not authentic, real, caring advice from someone like you.

    • Thanks Tora! I fully agree. Empathy, understanding, compassion and tolerance are so crucial in a mentor and coach. Yes the Zumba craze is proof that fun exercise is what so many people want in their fitness time. Thank you for your support. I can’t wait to read your new book with Donna too, I’m sure there’s lots of lovely understanding and caring advice in there too! All the best lady!

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