by Gail Gensler
It’s a question I get asked a lot, and, if you have also embarked on a fitness journey, one I’m sure you’ve gotten as well.
For me, the “whys” usually reference my age, obliquely or otherwise: “Why do you exercise at that intensity? Why do you push yourself so much? Why boxing?” For you, the “whys” may be different, but they will still reference peoples’ thoughts on your perceived limitations, or judgements. They may ask why you work out when you’re a parent, and in their minds, should be at home. If you don’t have what they see as the “right” type of body for a certain workout, they will ask why that is the activity you choose to pursue. If you are too old, too young, too small, too big, too male or too female, they will ask, “Why?”
I have fashioned my own answer that you’re welcome to borrow: “Why not?”
In this current climate of great uncertainty, I see many people (including myself) on journeys of self-reflection and self-awareness, trying to get grounded and have control over ourselves as we certainly cannot control what is going on around us. We don’t need to answer their “whys.” If you know your own “why,” that is enough.
As I have written about in prior posts, I have always been athletic and competitive in nature – not against others, but against myself, knowing that I am achieving my personal best each and every time. There are days I feel like a champ, and the days I don’t (and many times, those days have the best workouts because I feel even more compelled to push myself)!
It’s about personal challenges. It’s about growing, improving, thriving in both mind and body. As the saying goes “the body achieves what the mind believes.”
Exercise has obvious benefits. The physical ones are well-documented and proven for longevity, immunity and increased strength (which in turn reduces the chance of injury). For me, personally, exercise is also a self-esteem booster. I feel better when I work out. I’ve never needed convincing that health needs to be a priority, hence my continued research on anti-aging, supplements, and my incessant archiving of workouts so that I can be creative and not get bored by redundancy.
I am blessed to have tremendous longevity in my genes, but I still want all my years to be strong, productive and healthy years for myself and to be around for my daughter.
With that said, my personal “why” is primarily because I love to have fun! Working out is my adult version of playtime. Listening to great music (my personal preferences are EDM, disco, 80’s and 90’s dance music) gets me dancing during cardio drills and gives me the beat to throw punches and kicks to.
When I’m sweating it out in a class surrounded by like-minded people, I’m having pure fun. It’s a little reminiscent of my long-ago club days! I immerse myself in the experience, enjoying the strength, endurance and aptitude I have.
Mountain climbers, jumping jacks, burpees are fun too (well, maybe not the burpees), but nothing is better than hitting the boxing bag, feeling my strength and utilizing my hand eye coordination and mind in executing the combinations.
I’m living in my joyful moment. Improving myself, adding meaning and fulfillment to my day all the while being grateful for my energy and abilities, never once thinking about my age!
My “why” doesn’t have to be your “why,” and boxing doesn’t have to be your go-to workout. But, you owe it to yourself to find a “why” that resonates with you as strongly as mine does for me. Then all the outside “whys” from skeptics won’t matter – you can leave them in the dust, and get back to enjoying your workout!
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