By Monta Cooper


…I can relate. Exercise has not always been a love of mine. From absolutely hating to run the mile in P.E. as a teenager (so horrible!), to teaching fitness classes for the last 10 years, my love of fitness has grown over the course of my life. May I humbly make a few suggestions that will improve your experience with exercise, starting with “shop around.”

What Exercise Should & Should NOT Be

If you truly despise exercise there is a good chance that you have just not found THAT THING that you connect with. Exercise should NOT be:

  • grueling i.e. too hard
  • a time and energy-sucker
  • just another thing on the list of things to do that makes you feel guilty if you don’t do it

Exercise really can be:

  • renewing
  • invigorating
  • something to look forward to
  • a means of friendship with others
  • a spiritual experience

Now, hey woah, that’s going a bit too far…a “spiritual experience”? I know, I know…I would have scoffed at that too a few years ago. But let me explain.

There’s more to exercise than just the physical benefits. Sure less headaches, better blood pressure, heart health, muscle & bone strength, weight management, etc. are all nice things and sufficient reasons in and of themselves to exercise regularly.

But let’s be real, I could never maintain regular exercise for those reasons alone. I do it because of the way it makes me feel in my soul. And yes, that may sound cheesy and existential, but it’s 100% the truth.

There is something so empowering about doing something hard, and not only overcoming it but doing it WELL. I have done over 200 weighted squats/lunges in the past 2 days. I don’t say that to brag but to say “how freaking awesome is that!” And the students that did it all with me, I hope they feeling amazing too! They did something hard and knocked it out of the park! Every time I move these sore legs of mine I am reminded that I am strong and that I did something hard, and I did it well.

There is something so empowering about doing something hard, and not only overcoming it but doing it WELL.

There is a confidence and a self-assurance that comes in that sacred workout space when you come with the attitude of “I think I can” and leave with the knowledge that “I did it.” That confidence inevitably translates into other areas of your life throughout the day/week/month. I did THAT hard thing, surely I can do THIS hard thing.

I am not exaggerating in any way when I say that exercise can improve mental health, self-image, and overall daily life! Who doesn’t want that?! Our spirit is intimately connected with our body, if our body feels good our soul will feel good too!

Try It All to Find What You’ll Connect With

So….let’s find THAT THING that you will connect with! It can be done, I promise you! There are so many infinite options, I know you’ll find something that your body and your soul both enjoy. Something you WANT to do regularly. Something that leaves you feeling uplifted and gives you a release.

EXPERIMENT EXPERIMENT EXPERIMENT. Buy a month-long pass at a local facility and try it all. And not just once, but twice. Give every class at least 2 chances. Why? I’m so glad you asked!

The first time you go to a new class, whether it be an entirely new format you’ve never tried before or just a new teacher/place, you will inevitably feel some butterflies. You’ll feel a little anxious not knowing exactly what to expect. That’s normal. That’s okay! You may confuse those feelings with a sense of not liking the class at all. So give it a second go. The second time you’ll feel just a tad more comfortable. You’ll know the place, the instructor and what’s expected of you. Your mind AND your body will be more prepared for what’s to come. THEN you can better judge whether or not that class is for you.

And if it’s not, that’s fine! Try something else! Try the formats you think you’ll hate! I bet you’ll be surprised what your body reacts positively to.

In 2011 I went to my first Zumba class. I went because a friend invited me and I wanted to be polite, but I had no expectations that I would enjoy it. I was what you might call “clumsy, heavy-footed, ungraceful.” Yeah, I fit all of those descriptions to a tee, just ask my friends in high school! I was in a few musicals in high school and I was always the one who the choreographer had to spend “special time” with after everyone went home because I just couldn’t get the steps.

So yes, I held no expectation that I would like a dance formatted class like Zumba! Let alone become a certified Zumba instructor the following year, or teach it for the next decade, or that it would lead to other wonderful things. All because I tried something new that I thought I would hate.

2 Last Thoughts

After all this, remember that putting on some tennis shoes and going for a walk is exercise too. It’s simple, it’s easy, and those tennis shoes are calling your name.

And finally, don’t let the mom guilt win! Don’t feel guilty if you don’t exercise today. There are seasons for everything. Maybe right now your littles are consuming the majority of your attention and energy. Consider other ways you can move your body in the course of your day. Take your kid for a walk! Jump with them on the trampoline! Lift some hand weights while watching Paw Patrol! There are ways to make it work and feel better because of it. It’s all steps in the right direction in creating a mentally & physically stronger version of YOU.

Good luck and keep me updated on your journey! Let me cheer you on!

Stay tuned for more ideas to enjoy exercise!


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