For me, working out became a necessity in college, and not because of the Freshman 15.
This was back in the day before everyone had cell phones and social media, and your life was ruled by a single flashing red button – the one that indicated you had a message on your answering machine.
I was in a just-starting-to-turn-toxic relationship with my first serious boyfriend, Leo, and waiting by the phone for his call – while steadfastly refusing to call him first – was a daily shame spiral.
Add to that the fact that Leo told me casually, “It’s not that you’re fat, it’s just that your body is … weirdly proportioned.”
So rather than keep vigil by the phone (and to counterbalance what I suddenly thought of as my flesh jodhpurs), I started walking around the quad on the University of Alabama campus. Twice around and back to my apartment and that red light would be blinking. I’d call back, breathless and breezy – Leo’s favorite version of me, mine too as it turned out – and all would be right with the world.
Twice around the quad. Seasons changed. My body changed. My relationship ended. And I kept walking. I was hooked. When the university finished building a new rec center, I started going regularly – lifting weights, taking aerobics classes, being that girl on the Stairmaster who wouldn’t let the Flashdance look die.
Since then workouts have been a regular part of my life, for the stress-relief and mood boost as much as the improvement to my fitness. They’ve helped me build strength in so many ways.
I want everyone to feel that.
But as much as I love working out, I know if I had to run long distances (longer than, say, a block) or get back on that Stairmaster, I’d hate every second of it. So I know how important it is to find at least one workout you love.
And to do that, you should ask your Saturday Self.
I’m a big believer in the checking in with my Saturday Self to figure things out.
Your Saturday Self is more about want-to’s than have-to’s. She likes to go with the flow. Take the path of least resistance. She’s who you are with your guard down, your heart open and your alarm clock off. So naturally she has the low down on your true feelings on any number of subjects, like “This relationship just isn’t working,” or “I’m over green smoothies.”
So picture your Saturday Self.
Does she roll out of bed early ready to seize the day?
You might like running or boot camp or anything that makes you feel accomplished, like you’ve reached a goal or checked a box. Why not try training for a 5k or marathon. Take the 100-pushup challenge, log 10,000 steps with a fitness tracker or go rock climbing. Your Saturday Self will love anything with a definite end goal and sense of purpose.
Does she grab her phone and immediately call around to make brunch plans?
If your Saturday self is the social type, a group dynamic could keep you motivated. Join a running, walking or biking group, sign up for barre classes or try Cross-fit. You could join a competitive tennis team or softball league. Enlist several friends of all fitness levels to commit, so if one flakes, you’re not left without a workout buddy.
Does she lounge in bed watching Netflix or reading books till her muscles threaten to atrophy?
Let her lounge! Honor your Saturday Self’s right to be lazy … up to a point. Plan on working out later in the day then lure her out with a great audio book or the latest episode of Scandal. (If you belong to a gym with wifi, log in to Netflix or the app for your favorite station and watch a show while you’re doing intervals on the treadmill. Or workout in front of your TV at home with this workout or this one.
Is she sleeping off the excesses of Friday night or a killer week?
If your Saturday Self is always in rest-and-recovery mode, you might need more stress relieving workouts in your life. Try yoga or Pilates, long, meditative walks or restorative swims. For sweatier options, take a kick boxing class or plyometrics –anything that lets your pound out pent-up tension.
Is she excited about all the possibilities Saturday might bring.
If you’re the adventurous type, don’t lock into one workout. Try everything! Hike to new places, learn new skills like Judo or stand up paddle boarding. Enlist the help of a trainer to hone your weight lifting technique or take a class to learn new dance moves. Anything to keep your workouts fresh and interesting.
Remember, these workouts aren’t just for Saturday. Your Saturday Self is telling you what kinds of workouts might suit your personality all week long. Oh, and forget about love at first sweat. Give each workout a few weeks to see if works for you.
Also, forget about monogamy when it comes to working out. I have five workouts I love right now: spinning, TRX training, dance, walking and weightlifting.
From Auntie Venom’s Eighties Audio Files:
So, what’s your Saturday Self telling you?
Got a workout you love?
What’s your favorite Netflix binge? I need a new one.
Can we all just agree that the Flashdance look will never die?