(or embracing what your best workout could be on a daily basis)
It’s time to take a moment for a word I sometimes despise: workout.
Truth time: I love words. I love arguing over semantics and word choice and getting specific about what is being said and why. I love helping friends edit their grad school applications or their website copy and trying to find that perfect word that encapsulates what they’re all about. I love learning new words and trying them out and using them incorrectly and getting corrected and trying again. This doesn’t mean I don’t or can’t appreciate simple language. I just want well-chosen and thoughtful simple language.
Mostly I despise “workout” with its oft accompanied qualifier “best”. We see it thrown around in magazines and listicles: Best Butt Workout, The Best 15 Minutes Workout, Your Best Arms in 10 Minutes, etc. I don’t like the limits of the pervasive connotation of what the “best workout” means - sweat pouring, heavy weights, sprints, etc - so it’s time to redefine. There’s nothing wrong with those things - I love me a great, sweaty, gym date - BUT I also love a slow, quiet yoga class and I argue both of those are workouts. Different types, but workouts, and “real workouts” at that. Workouts that are best for me at different times. So, as Don Draper says, “if you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”
So let’s get real about what the Best Workout is:
The Best Workout is physical activity that makes you feel great in your body. This includes and is not limited to: a stolen 10 minutes of quiet lunch break yoga; a muscle-crushing circuit with your favorite CrossFit peeps; a long walk through a favorite park or garden; stretching in bed before you greet the day; following along with a celebrity name fitness dvd after work; dancing like a madman to the latest Lady Gaga single (it’s SO catchy); jumping jacks to get the blood flowing; squats while you wait for the bus; etc. If you’re moving and making your body better than before, rock on.
The Best Workout is showing up in your body and mind alike to say “My body is amazing. I’m going to f*cking rock this.” And yeah, that can apply to weight-lifting, running, yoga, AND Pilates. And so many more. This is one of the hardest aspects of a workout for me. I love fitness (obvs) and it can still be hard for me to show up to my own body and honor the time that’s just for me. I do my best to be mindful of this by putting it in terms of learning: my body is the first tool I ever had and it’s freakin' awesome and a privilege to learn all about that tool and see what it can do. Speaking of seeing what your body can do...
The Best Workout is not always in your comfort zone - it’s pushing your limits. And it’s really ok if this changes day to day. It’s about pushing just a little farther than your body or your mind is telling you is the line. Some days I’m down for a 2-hour walk; some days, a quick 20-minutes on my mat for a yoga/pilates combo is all I got. See your comfort zone, then push it - just a little. *All with the caveat that there is a difference between pushing a limit mindfully and blindly pushing beyond capability. Stay mindful, friends.*
The Best Workout is fun! If there’s no part of what you’re doing that you enjoy, then heavens to Betsy, what are you doing it for? Moving is fun. Getting in touch with your body is fun. Learning how to work your body is fun. For example: I hate burpees. I suck at burpees. There is absolutely no fun in doing a burpee, before or after, for me. I don’t necessarily love doing a plank (even though I know how good it is for me) but I DO love how strong I feel after doing one every day for a week. Wall sits: excruciating and fun - I’ve got my mom’s quads and they are STRONG. So find the fun. Maybe you need to switch up the work, maybe you need to switch up your attitude, but no matter what, find the fun.
The Best Workout is the workout you do today.