Seems like a silly question, but think about it for a second...when was the last time you took a few minutes and really paused to notice or enjoy the act of moving? If you're like most people, you probably don't give much thought to your movement, and just go on about your day until finally something hurts, then strangely enough, all you think about is moving, but unfortunately, not in a pleasant way.
One common homework assignment I like to give to my clients is to have them create a vision board of all the movements that either bring them joy, or that they think would bring them joy if they learned to do them. What I love most about this assignment is you can see all the "hidden joy" just lost in people waiting to come out. I see pictures of tree climbing, ballet, frisbee, kayaking, dancing, etc. I see my clients light up then they look at these pictures and imaging themselves participating. I see the stress come off their bodies, and the spring put back in their step. It's a small glimpse into seeing their 10 yr old selves.
The interesting part is that when asked why they've stopped moving in these joyful ways, I hear things like "people would see me?," "what if I'm not good at it?," "what if I get hurt?," "I don't have anyone else to do these things with," "my hip, knee, ankle etc. hurts." So many reasons to avoid joy. I was no different when doing my own board. I was amazed at all the cool things I really enjoyed doing, but realized I was pushing them aside because they weren't "exercise" as I had come to understand it. I was taught, like many of you, that exercising wasn't fun, that it was hard and included very specific things, like squats, deadlifts, push ups, and lunges. Surely kayaking, or shooting basketball hoops, or tennis couldn't be exercise...all those things are fun?!?
When the start of the pandemic hit a year ago, the very first thing I noticed as I went out into the gym for that first workout was how loudly my body was trying to tell me it needed something different. It was as if it was saying "things are really bad out there, and let's not waste any of our precious time moving in ways that aren't fun or enjoyable." From that point on, rather than following a strict rigid workout schedule, I now ask myself everyday "what does my body need from me today?" Sometimes it wants to be strong and lift heavy things, sometimes it just wants to crawl on the ground, or swing things, and some days punch things. As it turns out, it's all acceptable. The best part is that when moving is actually fun again, we tend to do more of it and get better results than when we hyper focus on just getting results.
I like to think of this as "intuitive movement." You've probably heard of intuitive eating...listening to what your body is craving, how it feels afterwards, why you want to eat certain foods. Why should movement be any different?
So next time you set out to do your workout, or to engage in some movement for the day, I challenge you to ask yourself "what does my body need from me today?" "What sounds like fun?" Then can you simply listen without questioning, without judgement, without having to know what "box it checks"...just listen. You may just remember how fun moving can really be!
Carrie Craven is a holistic movement practitioner who owns and operates Your Health First LLC out of Portland, OR. Since 2013, she's been devoted to helping women make their own health and wellness a priority by learning new ways to explore movement in order to improve activities of daily living, reduce injury, feel more connected, and in their bodies. See how we can work together.