Rebel Fitness

One of the problems I have with my rebel nature is sticking to any form of routine, and another problem is not wanting to do what everyone else is doing… Over the years this has made sticking to any form of exercise pretty difficult! I am the queen of unused gym memberships and redundant exercise equipment. The moment I let the thought into my head that I ‘should’ be exercising and getting fit/healthy, the inner rebel kicks in and says ‘you can’t make me’*. Doesn’t matter how much I want to do it, I’ll rebel against my own wishes, just because…

These days however, I’ve worked out the trick to get myself moving more.

  1. Do something different
  2. Be active rather than exercise
  3. Use technology

Why (and how) do these strategies work for me?

Let’s take the first one: Do something different. This appeals on so many levels! I love to do the unexpected, the slightly crazy & unusual. I’ve been a Morris dancer for four years now, it’s the longest I’ve ever stuck to anything fitness related. I bask in the baffled looks I get when I say I’m a Morris dancer. It makes my rebel heart happy! Plus, it’s damned hard work and great fun. I dance with Shrewsbury Morris, which is a rebel side in that we don’t dance to one tradition, we write our own dances and a lot of our own music. There’s history, there’s community, the Morris world is an alternative subculture all of its own.

Also yoga. But of course not normal yoga. Hot yoga!

And this week, because I’ve been ill & under the weather, I’ve signed up to do a hand balancing course. This is because I read an article in the Guardian about it, thought it sounded like fun, found a course in Birmingham and signed up. Of course, in my head, I am going to look like Buffy the Vampire Slayer doing this! **

Secondly — focus on being active rather than exercising.

This concept really appeals to me. I immediately hate the thought of a regular gym routine or a class, but incorporating more activity into my normal life makes sense. There’s a lot of research at the moment suggesting that being less sedentary across the whole day is a lot better for you than concentrating on an hour of exercise. I’ve read some great books about this recently — No Sweat by Michelle Segar and Move Your DNA by Katie Bowman are both excellent.

It’s made me check out outside gyms (love that idea!) — it turns out there is one near me on the route I often take when walking my mate’s dog (there’s another rebel tip, turn your activity into helping someone else). I love the idea of being fit enough to just stop and do some cool pull ups on the bars. Preferably one handed. In my head for this one I’m thinking Uncle Iroh***

Mostly with this one though it’s the classic things like parking at the far end of the station car park, setting my preferences on the Trainline to book me into the quiet coach (always a longer walk) and setting the Fitbit to buzz at me every hour or so so I get up and move. Allowing enough time between meetings to walk between them (always good to reflect I find). Combining activities — I like to shop in our market, so I might as well walk there. Allowing & making time to do that is often the stumbling block. I remind myself that I will work better for a break and get a cheeky thrill out of rebelling against any concept of ‘normal working hours’!

Another good read on this approach is Joshua over at the Minimalists.

And finally — Technology:

I’m a self confessed geek. I love gadgets, apps, games and all that good stuff. So often a way to trick myself into doing something I’m wasting energy rebelling against, is to get techy with it.

I use a Fitbit. I do go in phases with it, but I do find it useful to know just how active (or inactive) I am. The tracking facility is great — when I head off for a walk I turn it on, stick the head phones on, listen to my classic rock playlist and off I go! It tells me my pace every 1km, tells me how far I’ve walked and (because I’m being a rebel) I air guitar, drum (and quite often sing) as I’m walking. So people stare. Do I care? Here’s one of my favourite walking tracks…

I’ve tried several apps but I don’t find goal setting types useful (goals are evil) but I do like Zombies Run! Although I use it to walk (quickly). I backed it as a Kickstarter way back when, even though I’ve never been a runner, and it’s great to see it going from strength to strength.

Not sure if this counts as tech, but it’s a website and community so I’ll stick it in here. Nerd Fitness. I first clocked Steve and Nerd Fitness back in 2010 and was reminded of it recently when a friend came across it and (rightly) reckoned I would find it useful. They really understand the rebel mindset over there, and the thought of looking at your health and fitness in terms of a quest again appeals (it’s all in the words — goals = evil, quest = awesome!).

And another great read around gaming your fitness is Jane Mcgonigal and Super Better — good app too though not for me (I’m not good with something telling me everyday to do a thing)

And on that note here’s what I have learned not to do:

Join a gym,

Join any form of 30 day programme, especially if it involves a Facebook group or community,

Get any sort of app that sets goals or tells me to do things.

Does any of it work?

I’m definitely more consistently active than I was a few years ago. I don’t waste money or energy on not going to the gym and I don’t waste time or energy rebelling against things I feel I ‘should’ do. I would like to do more, but it’s a cold and damp February and I’ve got a sinus infection so there’s not much walking going on at the moment. Ask me again when the sun comes out. Can’t wait for the hand balancing next month *channels inner Buffy*

*Imagine that in a childish whine with a foot stamp

**My partner John is pretty used to me having somewhat left field impulses, and in fact Morris dancing was his suggestion in the first place, but when I told him about the hand balancing he actually texted back ‘wtf!!!’ which I’m counting as a triumph for rebel fitness!

***this will mean very little to most of you I suspect, but Avatar: Legend of Aang is well worth checking out. Also in my head I’m not looking like Uncle Iroh. Just for clarity.

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