Thursday, January 5, 2012

Why do you work out?

I went to the gym this morning, nervous for my first ever Les Mills RPM (spinning) class.  I have been on a spinning bike for interval training, but have never actually taken a full spin class. And I was scared.

By the way, I just did a google search to try to find a picture of people taking a spinning class.  Every one I found had people smiling. I didn't feel like that was a good representation of what happened today. Other than smiling people spinning, the search for some reason also turned up a whole bunch of pictures of Bob Harper.

Since I am posting this, it is no mystery that I survived. But I will admit that within the first 30 minutes of the 55 minute class, I did think once or twice that there was actually a possibility I might throw up.  (Of course I ended up on a bike just behind some kind of super-biking chick who actually out biked the instructors and didn't break a sweat.)  By 40 minutes, I was having some serious leg fatigue and wondered if I would even be able to walk back out of the gym to get Little Man from Kids Club.  I envisioned stepping off the bike and just crumbling down on to the ground. With 5 minutes to go, we were doing hills and my legs pretty much just stopped working all together. The coordination and strength were gone.

But I survived! Was able to walk to Kids Club, and now, 3 hours later, the soreness has set in.  In the meantime though, I felt good. I disliked pretty much every one of the 55 minutes I was on the bike, but now find myself thinking I should go back again next week. It was a good workout, and I feel weak now which means I might feel strong tomorrow (if I can actually move my legs).

That got me to thinking about a friend who is some kind of warrior superwoman.  She runs almost every day at an ungodly hour, like 3 or 4am, and distances that require serious training and effort.  Tomorrow she told me she is going to the 1 hour weight training class (BodyPump) and immediately after to RPM. And I don't know but she's probably running in the morning too.  First I was thinking, "How in the world can she spend an hour lifting weights and still be able to do all of the leg work of a spinning class?" It has to be conditioning.

So in the great winding ladder of my mind, I then thought, "Why would someone do that to themself?" Why would anyone in their right mind choose to work out for 2-3 hours 5 or 6 days a week? (And, for ease, I'm going to lump those who are NOT in their right mind along with professional athletes, models and other people whose livelihood depend on them being in optimal physical condition.)

So here are some possible reason I thought of, though I fully intend to ask my friend the next time I see her what the real answer is.

* Exercise as hobby
* Exercise as weight loss tool
* Exercise towards some other goal
* Exercise as part of healthy lifestyle

I am not an exercising super woman.  I try to work out 3-5 times a week for up to an hour. Sometimes I get into a routine and will go stretches of doing an hour a day, 5 days a week. Sometimes much less.

Why do I do it?

For me, exercise is fun.  I generally enjoy being active and working out. It helps me to feel healthy and strong. Exercise is also critical for me in terms of stress release and anxiety reduction.  I have a lot more trouble with anxiety and insomnia if I'm not working out regularly.  I also like to set a goal and train towards it to mix things up every now and then. (Hence the spinning class because I'm hoping to do a run/bike/run duathlon this spring.)  For me, weight loss isn't really what exercise is about.  I actually tend to put weight on if I am exercising more often. The unfairness of that is for another time.

And so, dear reader, if you exercise, why do you do it?

1 comment:

  1. Good for you for taking on spin class! I am not an avid exerciser, but that needs to change this year. Seriously. It has to. I always feel better when it's over and when I've done it, it's just getting myself to go to the gym when my couch is much more welcoming. And I don't have any excuses because there's a gym in my building.