Keeping physically active is all about discovering the activities that excite you
When I was in high school, I was never one to get grass stains on my knees. I cringed at the squeak of running shoes across the gymnasium floor. If you asked me how I felt about gym class, I would tell you I’d rather be solving the equation of a line.
Like many high schools, my P.E. class curriculum was predominately team sports-based. Throughout the school year, we would rotate between different sports, from soccer to basketball to rugby to floor hockey. A big chunk of students—the jocks—would excel no matter what sport they played. As much as I wanted to fit in with them, I didn’t have the hand-eye coordination or the natural talent to make a great pass or score. As team members were being chosen by captains, I’d twiddle my thumbs and stare at the floor, knowing I’d be one of the last invited to play.
I was labeled one of the lazy girls. And to be honest, at the time, it was true. I was unfit. Unmotivated. Occasionally, my teacher would allow me to walk laps around the school instead of playing sports with the others.
What I have learned since then, though, is that I didn’t hate gym class because I hated exercising. I hated it because I never got to discover a type of physical activity that brought me joy and excitement.
Over the last four years, however, I found my place in the world of fitness. For me, it’s really been all about trial and error. Even today, I continue to discover more about my athleticism and physical capabilities.
There are a few activities where I feel in my element, such as running, spinning and biking. I discovered these activities through gym classes in CEGEP or by hanging out at the park and observing how others were being active. But more recently, bootcamp classes have really changed how I view physical activity. For over a year now, I have been a member of KinéKat Santé, a workout studio in the borough of Lasalle.
According to Kathy Landry, the owner and main trainer at the studio, bootcamp is a form of interval-based training which targets muscular and cardiovascular endurance, as well as agility and coordination.
During each class, we complete a series of four exercises at specific intervals, repeating the entire set three times. Then, we complete a second series of four different exercises three times again. At first, I thought the exercises would get boring after a while.To my surprise, every time I’ve attended, Landry has come up with new exercises, making the course fresh and exciting. Personally, that’s one of the aspects that makes the course so entertaining for me—you never know what you’re going to get.
It would take the entire word count of this article to list all of the exercises I have done through bootcamp. We do a variety of planks, squats, lunges, push-ups, agility exercises, weights and a lot of work with bosu balls, a dome-shaped exercise ball.
Bootcamp can also easily be done at home using minimal equipment. A few weights and a mat are all it takes to get you started. But, for me, being part of a class is more motivating, as I feed off of the energy of others without it getting competitive. Classes are also a reasonable size—eight to 10 people. While Landry has several other classes, such as zumba, yoga and POUND, bootcamp is the class I keep coming back to. It is impossible to leave without sweating your butt off. It is challenging and energizing. I feel my muscles tightening with every sequence, and it’s rewarding. I started out not being able to do a single push-up or hold a plank for more than 20 seconds—those days are long gone.
It’s virtually common knowledge that being physically active reaps significant benefits, not only physically, but mentally. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, keeping active regularly can improve self-esteem, reduce stress, increase energy levels and overall happiness, all while reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
I can attest to the fact that being physically fit has made me happier and more confident. The key, in my experience, is finding activities you truly enjoy—ones that don’t feel like work—that you’re motivated to do. Year-round, I workout four times a week—through bootcamp, biking or running.
It is easy to feel like you are just not meant to be fit, or just not good enough for sports. If there is any advice I can give to anyone in that predicament, it’s to be curious. Try new activities, and go into them with an open mind. More importantly, don’t get discouraged if you dislike something. Of course, there are days where, no matter what, even a workout you enjoy will feel like work. But it’s when you don’t mind that grass stain or the squeak of your shoes against the floor that you know you’ve found an activity worth sweating for.