Exercise: The Ultimate Escape

Runners running through a park

John Barry

I came across the difference of these two terms a few years into my fitness career. Having grown up as an athlete and playing multiple sports, I would always workout. I genuinely enjoyed it. Wether it was strength training or running. I never saw it as work, but more of a reward. This led me to picture working out through a specific lens. It’s a controlled period of time, where I can escape and focus on individual, manageable goals and see progress both in a single session and over several weeks and months.

The goals it helps fulfill are not just in the gym, but real life experiences. Successful training sessions can help people recover from or prevent injury, improve their performance in sport, allow them to engage in physical activity with their children or grand children and not let physical limitations limit their lifestyle. This is why I was surprised when I came across people that would immediately view a training session as a chore. A task to be crossed off so they wouldn’t feel guilty.

The Exercise Escape

running in the woods

Granted this isn’t everyone, but it does seem to be a large amount of people that workout. Everyday I see people heading to a gym, or fitness club with the most stressful look on their face. Yes, living in NYC, everyone seems to be in a rush and always running just a few minutes behind their desired schedule. I’ll argue that this is even more reason to use the training time as an escape.

One time in particular, I’m paying for parking at a muni-meter in a local parking lot. It’s an automated machine and my first time using this specific one. There is a man behind me with a yoga mat, and I can feel his heavy breathing and aggregated sighs behind me. I must not have been going fast enough, because he abruptly says “excuse me” and steps in front of me to pay for his parking first. He then hurriedly walks away. My wife and I were going to eat lunch and next door to the restaurant was a hot yoga studio. I understand being frustrated for being late, but I hope he was able to use the hot yoga to relax a little on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Related Article: 3 Reasons You Should Hit The Yoga Mat

Have Fun

Yoga in the grass

Since there is so much stress in our lives, I find it best to utilize the time training to have some fun. Let’s play some games and joke around. I’ve had so many clients tell me about previous trainers that are stern and yell and scream. I’ll put them at ease with a self deprecating joke, hopefully get a laugh and move on from there.

There have been a few times when I have a client come in and I can tell right away that their mind is elsewhere and can’t focus. It can be a work thing, family issue, argument with friend, etc, but it’s going to take away from their session and they will not get the full benefit they need. In these cases I may just grab a football and “warm up” by tossing it back and forth. We’ll make it fun or challenging by doing so while balancing on one leg, sitting upright and maintaining good posture during it, getting some trunk rotation as well. I’ll substitute tennis balls for the football as well or have a similar game to play. This allows the person a few minutes to decompress.

Depending on the person, I’ll ask them what’s up and let them talk it out, or change the subject completely and ask them or tell them about a recent positive story. The goal is to obviously get them in a better mood, but mainly to clear their headspace and get the most of their training session.

Have fun with every gym session. Play games and don’t take it so seriously. I’m known to sing and dance to myself while training. I’ll also burst into laughter due to a podcast I’m listening to. Let’s get after it, and have some fun. Train to perform better.

Related Article: Work Your Body And Mind To Combat Stress

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