There you are, slogging it out on the treadmill. You peak at your watch in hopes that you’re nearly finished, only to find that you’ve been at it for a whopping 7 minutes and you still have 23 more to make your goal! It’s torture. You’ll never make it. You are going to die right here on this machine, alone, in a puddle of your own sweat.
Sound familiar? Well, you may be going about physical activity all wrong! The trick is to disguise your workouts so they are more like play than work. When it’s fun and not drudgery, the time will go faster and you are more likely to keep it up. So… what makes fitness fun for you? Read below to see where you fit in. (Some activities fall under more than one category.)
Do you like chasing a ball, puck, or flying disc? Do you enjoy working with teammates to achieve a common goal? For some, literally turning fitness into a game is the key. Playing team sports gives fitness a purpose. There is a reason to run hard or jump high because you need to get away from a defender or score a goal. You probably enjoy activities like basketball, softball, volleyball, football, hockey, ultimate flying disc, etc.
- Playing with others and sharing the experience
- Feeding off each other for motivation
- Being counted on by your teammates
- Feeling a sense of responsibility to do your best “for the team”
- Adding a group of teammates who are friends
- Having the possible hassle of having to join a team
- Needing to find the right level of competition
- Having to fit practice and game times into your schedule
- Giving up total control of how the team does as a whole
Do you enjoy sports but you don’t like having to count on others? Do you like to be master of your own destiny? In individual sports like racquet sports, gymnastics, diving, martial arts, archery, fencing, golf, etc., there is purpose for all your fitness and you alone control how well you do.
- Competing in an activity in which you excel
- Getting out of it what you put in: you are in control of how well you do
- Choosing your own level of intensity/competition
- Needing to find someone to compete against
- Possibly needing a coach to learn the sport or to improve
Do you enjoy dancing and moving to music? Whether it is Zumba, aerobic dance, step class, social dance, competitive dance, partner dances, line dances, or the Chicken Dance, moving to music can be so fun you don’t think of it as a workout.
- Getting to do this on your own or with a partner
- Choosing your own music/style out of unlimited choices
- Deciding your intensity impacts no one but yourself
- Using muscles all over your body
- Needing to push yourself so you get a workout
Does coming in second place motivate you to work harder? If you like pushing yourself to be faster and stronger than others, you are most likely motivated by competition in strength and endurance-type sports. Your favorite sports may be things like competitive swimming, running, cycling, triathlon, paddling, rowing, weightlifting, fitness competitions, or any other objectively measured event or race.
- Measuring progress whether you compete against time or others
- Having amazing fitness
- Being able to train alone or with others; it’s your choice
- Being able to choose your level of competition
- Competing in age groups against folks at a similar phase in life
- Getting lonely out there working out on your own
- Feeling that you are never fit enough because there’s almost always someone faster than you
Do you enjoy moving outdoors doing cool stuff like hiking, paddling, surfing, recreational skiing, mountain biking, or rock climbing? These outdoor pursuits may be done competitively, or not, it’s your choice. Either way those who participate benefit from being outside and enjoying nature.
- Being in nature and seeing the beauty
- Interacting with an ever-changing environment
- Having no competition, just you doing what you love to do with or without others
- Being somewhat dependent on the weather for most outdoor pursuits
- Losing some control and having some safety issues
We, as physical educators, need to prepare our students by helping them discover activities they enjoy. Your students are bound to find something they like to do whether it’s a team sport, an individual sport, something involving dance, an endurance sport, or an outdoors pursuit. It’s our job to expose them to it all!
So, be sure you are offering up a smorgasbord of activities throughout the years, giving them a little taste of everything. By the end of their PE “careers” they will surely have found several activities they can enjoy for their lifetimes!