I enjoy running. I really do. Even when it’s hard, even when I’m out of breath, even when I just want to quit, running is a positive activity for me. I often find when I’m stressed, angry, or upset, my first reaction is to go for a run. And the feeling of accomplishment when I go faster or further than I could before is incredible.
But sometimes, I still don’t make it out the door.
Aerial, on the other hand, I love. And I consistently have no trouble making it to class four, five, or even six days a week – sometimes twice a day. I feel like I could spend all day, every day in an aerial class and I would never get tired of it. Well, my muscles would get tired, but my brain wouldn’t! And that’s what brings me to Part 6 of my indefinitely long series of reaching fitness goals:
Find Something You Love
Finding an activity you enjoy for fitness is pretty common advice. If you hate running, you’re going to have a hard time convincing yourself to go running. If you hate lifting, you won’t be able to get your butt to the gym to do it very often or for very long. But I’m not just talking about finding something you can tolerate, or that you occasionally look forward to. I’m talking about finding something that you truly, genuinely love. Because for me, that’s the difference between deciding to skip a run because I “need a rest day” and choosing to go to aerial even though I’m absolutely covered in bruises.
So let’s talk about that difference.
I started running because I needed an activity that would help me get into shape and lose weight. It took time for me to learn to enjoy it. Although I was able to force myself through the weeks and months where it was a chore, it absolutely started as a chore. I started aerial, on the other hand, because it looked awesome. It took me about fifteen minutes in my first class to fall in love, and I was so motivated that I actually went to the gym immediately after that first class because I wanted to get in shape and get better.
Once I start running, I feel great. And if I go for a long time without running I start to miss it. But often times I think of the work that I have to put in before I can even get out on the run (change, put my hair up, get my arm band and headphones ready, put on shoes) with dread and decide it’s not worth the trouble. I’m excited about aerial literally 100% of the time, whether I’m in class, getting ready for class, or just trying to decide when I should next go to class. I’ve never looked at changing as any form of barrier. And when I go for two or three days without practice I start frantically worrying about how much of the my strength I’m going to lose, whether or not my calluses will last, and what skills I’m missing out on that I won’t get a chance to learn until later.
Even after many months of consistent running and several races, including a half marathon, I never considered myself a runner. I always felt I didn’t go far enough, or wasn’t fast enough, or dedicated enough, or whatever enough to be a runner as opposed to someone who runs. But just five months after my first class, I’m very comfortable saying that I’m learning to be an aerialist. There are skills for which I’m not strong enough or not flexible enough, but I know that eventually I will be. And I’ve never felt like I wasn’t “enough”, even in those moments where I can’t quite get a new skill.
So in short, running is a thing I enjoy. I find it pleasant. I’m happy to do it. But aerial is a thing that I love and I will go to extreme lengths to make sure that I can do it. Running is enough to get me out the door on most days, but aerial is enough to get me out the door on even the worst days.
So. Don’t just find a thing that you tolerate or enjoy. Find a thing you LOVE. That passion will take you wherever you want to go, no matter how difficult the goal.