Making an effort to do things that make you feel better doesn’t seem difficult, but oftentimes what makes us feel better can turn into something that we dread. For me, exercise had been a healthy outlet for my whole life. Then a new friend freshman year of college invited me on a four-mile run.
Exercising in the real world—outside of elementary gym class and high school sports—felt daunting.
My new friend invited me to join her in taking an upcoming Zumba class. When we arrived to our school’s gym, we discovered that we needed to purchase the class online. Turning around, I prepared to go back to my dorm and finish homework. But my friend suggested that we go on a run instead. I nearly bumped into the glass door out of shock. Sure, I played sports for my whole life, but the fun of sports distracted from the act of running that I so desperately hated. In short, running made me feel hot and angry. I could not agree to this.
But, looking at her anticipating smile, I gave in. Taking a deep breath, I nodded before explaining that I was not—in any sense of the word—a “runner.” She brushed this off by falsely and politely agreeing.
We walked onto the river path by our school. The September air rustled through the trees and blew leaves onto the water. Beautiful serenity surrounded us, and here I stood, about to mess up the peace by going on a run. Nonetheless, I followed my new friend down the black gravel path.
The run, while beautiful, lasted two agonizing hours. My new friend offered tips on how to get better at running. Though I wanted to scream that I’d never succeed in running, I just smiled and thanked her. After that harrowing experience, I crawled into bed and did nothing for the rest of the day.
This ordeal gave me the wrong impression of exercising at college. The long run took a toll on my body and rendered me useless for the rest of the day. For the next year, I only went to the gym about 10 times. I walked to class every day, but I still felt the effects of not exercising—mentally and physically. Personally, it felt as if a part of my life went missing.
While I tried to implement a more regular workout schedule, I got caught in the mindset of viewing exercise as a chore. I quickly realized the problem. My whole life, I’d been a part of organized sports and loved it. Working out by myself was nice, but I didn’t have as much fun.
Cycling through ideas, my brain remembered the dreaded four-mile run incident, more specifically, the Zumba class. A class environment suited me and my routine much more than relying on my willpower to hit the gym. I signed up for a class pass, which allowed me to take different fitness classes for a semester.
The classes enhanced my love for exercise. Loud music filled each room as instructors gave us workouts and words of encouragement. I found myself actually enjoying these classes, and looking forward to attending. Ever since signing up, I’ve tried new classes, becoming a regular at others. I saw many aspects of my life improve.
I had more energy in the day, said yes to plans more often, and overall felt more positive.
Adding this routine into my day has helped me tremendously. Personally, I needed exercise in my life to make me feel better in my mind and body. Helping yourself and taking time to think about self-care definitely contributes positive aspects to your life. From that four-mile run to now, I’ve grown and become stronger. So, in the end, it was all worth it.