The Joy of Exercise

I choose joy

Happy Monday! It’s Brooke here. Have you ever thought about exercise as a joy? What about when you were a kid, before physical activity became Something You Had to Do? Do you remember how carefree you felt running around with the wind in your hair and the grass beneath your toes, even if your knees were skinned? Gosh, I miss that feeling!

The Good Old Days

When I was little and time stretched beyond infinity, I rejoiced in playing in the yard, swimming, and biking around my neighborhood at every opportunity. For a few preteen years, I also played soccer, mainly because I loved being with my friends on the team. But as a shy, once-timid girl, the thought of meeting a ball coming at me full throttle and me battling with another person for possession was mortifying for me. I can hear my dad (our coach)’s voice yelling “Hustle, Brooke, hustle!” to no avail. The other fly in the ointment was my being made to run a lot in the blazing Texas sun, so I’m pretty much done with running, thanks.

NoRunning

For many years, I had no perception of how important physical activity was, outside of the requisite school-mandated P.E. classes. Fortunately for those around me, I was sprung from these classes before people could truly appreciate how uncoordinated I was. In 6th grade, we were required to choose our path going forward for the next year—band, choir, or athletics. The totality of our future experience would spin out in different ways according to what we chose. Even friendships would flourish or diminish by the simple fact of sharing (or not sharing) the same physical space with a population of kids every day for the next 6 years. So, for that span of time, my exercise was no more strenuous than trying to dance/twirl or march/stand at attention as a majorette in the marching band.

Time to Play

When I arrived at college, I had to choose (again) mandatory P.E. classes. So, I decided to take all the “sports” I’d always wanted to try. I blissfully took several semesters of ballet, feeling like a graceful swan and a thrilled little girl at the same time. I even signed up for fencing—very challenging. Apparently, coordination is important there as well. But I liked the metal bra cups that the girls had to wear inside their uniform (instant curves!). Then I found archery. . .  True love!

archery target

This makes my heart skip a beat . . . look at all those 10’s!

Archery was the start of everything wonderful for me at school. I found my adored friend, Suzy, in this class. And I stumbled upon my joy when Suzy and I joined the archery team. This group became my family at A&M—that tends to happen when you see each other day in and day out for hours. Not only is archery a beautiful sport of precision and focus, but the gear is really neat too! I’ll share more shooting adventures in a future post, but my point here is that I found something that made me happy. And you should too!

Exercise is joyful when you find an activity that feels like play instead of dread. You don’t have to do 100 sit-ups or lock yourself in a gym to exercise. It’s a big world out there! If you feel confined in your life or so stressed out that you can’t breathe, go run until you forget all that stuff. Feel the need to punch something? There’s always kickboxing, karate, or MMA. Have you always wanted to try burlesque dance? Then go for it! Think of an activity involving some bodily movement that would make you feel carefree and energized. No judging, no recitals (please!), and it’s totally ok if you mess up. Just find your joy!

XO, Brooke

Joy in action!

Joy in action!

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