Sunday, 25 October 2009

Try something new today!

While cleaning up some folders on my computer I came across this old article that hasn't seen the light of day since I wrote it 2+ years ago so I thought I'd give it an airing - hope you like it!

As I write this, I’m mid way through a 4 week long visit to the UK to see my family and friends…it’s a bit of a working holiday really; I’m writing lots of (hopefully!) good articles, planning my lessons for the rest of the year and catching up with people I’ve not seen much of over the last 12 months. Even though I’m on vacation and away from my usual training facilities, I was determined to continue with as close to my normal exercise routine as possible. Right from the get-go this proved to be a bit of a problem! I didn’t have the same amount of time as I normally do, my usual choice of equipment wasn’t available, there was no local gym for me to use, my day was less structured, and even the weather was against me more often than not! It was all a bit frustrating…I began to resign my self to doing very little activity over the coming weeks.

However, rather than let all this stuff get in the way of my pursuit of the healthy lifestyle, I decided to use this as an opportunity to try some different activities and not be ruled by my normal schedule. Instead of throwing my hands up in defeat and becoming a coach potato for a month, I looked for new and interesting physical activities that I wouldn’t normally do. I basically decided to “play” instead of train and I have to say it was very refreshing both mentally and physically. So, I hit the internet and local newspapers to see what activities and facilities were available to me during my visit. I’ve found plenty to keep me amused…

So far, I have had a few 1-to-1 kick boxing lessons, been to numerous group exercise classes, visited a near by indoor climbing wall, been to an adult gymnastics class a couple of times, ran around a near by park, completed lots of bodyweight exercise circuits, and, because I am without a car during my visit, I have walked to my nearest wi-fi hot spot most days – walking being one of the most readily available and healthy activities you can do.

So, what’s the point of this article? Many of the exercisers I know are very precious about their exercise routines. Runners run, cyclists ride bikes, weightlifters lift, bodybuilders build, and swimmers swim and so on. However, when they don’t have access to their normal training environment, they tend not to exercise at all. I see this as a huge missed opportunity to experience other ways of exercising, learn a new skill set and having some fun in a different but still healthy environment. The old saying “a change is as good as a rest” couldn’t be truer for the average regular exerciser.

Okay, so doing something different may take you out of your comfort zone, it might mean you try something you find you don’t like, maybe means you’ll be doing something that you’re not that good at or doesn’t directly aid your current goals but think of the benefits. At the end of the day, we were designed to be active and activity comes in many forms, most of which will have at least a minor benefit to our bodies and our health. AND you never know you just might find a new activity which fires your passion and gives your regular exercise routine a much needed shot in the arm. When I was in the armed forces, I was often told “routine is the enemy” and it’s only over the last couple of weeks I have finally understood the wisdom in those words. For well rounded heath and fitness remember “variety is the spice of life”.

“Trying something new” is also great advice for anyone new to exercise. Don’t restrict your choice of activities to the normal gym, cycling, jogging, classes or swimming. As good as those activities are, if they don’t inspire you, then look for something else that will. What sports have you done in the past? Watched on TV and though “that looks fun”? With a bit of net-surfing on your part, I’m sure you’ll find a club, group or society of people who share this interest and will provide you with the support you need to have a go at something new. There are groups out there for all ages and all levels of experience whose soul reason for existence is the promotion and development of their chosen pass-time and beginners will be welcomed with open arms. An additional benefit of joining a group is the social support and opportunity to meet people and make new friends which can contribute to your overall enjoyment.

Remember – exercise shouldn’t be a chore! It should be life enhancing, enjoyable and something to look forward to. If you find your self dreading your next workout, training session or team practice, maybe you should be looking for a new challenge – one which excites, energises, stimulates and entertains you. After all, as I’ve said before, “it needn’t be hell to be healthy!”

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