Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's time to play!

Children do it. Animals do it. When we see children and animals doing it we call it play. But, perversely, when we do it, we call it exercise. When was the last time you played?

I'll admit that I'm one of the bizarre few that think exercise is a pretty good time. I like lifting weights, I like going for bike rides and hikes, or cross country skiing. And I can do a hell of a workout and think it's pretty fun. However, I recognize that most folks don't feel that way.

Play is of vital importance. It unburdens the mind from the conventions of daily life, offering a refreshing distraction. Perhaps more importantly, when play is FUN, it allows us to live in the moment. I often feel that I do my best thinking while I'm on my bike. This is no accident. It's the being purely in the moment where a lot of good things happen.

Play doesn't have to be elaborate. Look, for instance, at children. Give 'em a cardboard box and they can play for hours. Now that the weather is warm, go to a park. Take your shoes off. Run, hop, skip, jump, crawl in the grass. Hang from a tree branch. Heck, climb a tree. You're moving your body but you don't have to call it exercise. Just enjoy moving, be mindful. Be in the moment.

I bring this all up because I have to mess with the TV's at the front of OAC's cardio area virtually every day. I find this task irritating and tedious. Why do I have to do it? Because our members, bored to death by cardio, mess with the TV's to find the channel they want to watch to distract themselves from the tedium of what they think they have to do. They aren't in the moment; they're just going through the motions. They'll get some minimal effect for their bodies but their minds don't benefit.

This is, again, where the trainers come in. A smart, purposeful program requires the client to be mindful to complete it. There are variables to pay attention to. Heck, it might even be fun.

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