Good exercise is outside the gym

Everyone should try out as many methods of exercise as they can. Our culture has taught us that the only way that you can be in shape is to get a gym membership and either lift heavy weights or hop on a treadmill. However, there are so many other ways in which people can challenge themselves physically and learn self-discipline. To date, I have dabbled in yoga, rock climbing, calisthenics, swimming, soccer, basketball and Taekwondo. Doing so has tremendously helped me both physically and mentally, and I hope to learn even more disciplines.

There are several reasons why experimenting with different methods of exercise can be beneficial. First, each individual method has its own unique challenges to learn to overcome. Second, changing up one’s fitness routine is key in avoiding burnout and maintaining motivation. And third, having an arsenal of ways to workout is key in both avoiding and recovering from injury. 

Each method of exercise has its own unique challenges. Sparring in Taekwondo and squatting don’t have very much in common, but they do force the participant to learn new skills and overcome different hurdles. Sparring teaches you how to read an opponent, become aware of your whole body at once and how to make decisions extremely quickly. Rock climbing teaches you how to solve puzzles and increase coordination like nothing else.

However, you can apply skills across disciplines and improve one by actively training another. The coordination that you must learn in order to rock climb can be applied to any sport. You learn how to shift weight minutely and build plenty of core strength at the same time. The mental fortitude you need to exert the last of your energy in the final five minutes of a sports game when already exhausted is a skill you can apply to any solo exercise.

People when working out by themselves do not fully exert themselves because they do not need to. But the pressure and intensity of an overtime playoff game can teach someone to surpass the limits they thought they had.

Changing up the way you workout can help to avoid burnout and maintain motivation. Any form of exercise performed safely and within one’s ability is extremely rewarding when committed to for an extended period of time. However, subjecting yourself to the same intense regimen for over six months can become repetitive and especially if you’re not seeing the results you want, it is easy to miss a day, or a week, or eventually just quit. That is why it is important to have options when it comes to exercise.

When weight training became very repetitive a few years ago and I lost motivation, I took up rock climbing/bouldering for six months. It was a huge breath of fresh air. I was a beginner again and my expectations for myself were at the floor. I had something to learn and progression as a beginner is always fast. I actually looked forward to getting on the wall and trying new things. At the end of my time getting into bouldering, the burnout from weight lifting was completely gone and I was ready to get back to it.

Having an array of workout methods to choose from is vital in avoiding and recovering from burnout. Sports and weight training are two disciplines which overload the participant and have a high risk of injury. Being somewhat versed in swimming and yoga is a perfect supplement to high stress, high impact sports like soccer and basketball. Shin splints, bad knees and bad backs are almost inevitable for athletes and weightlifters. But taking short breaks to work in swim workouts and yoga can do wonders in rehabilitating problem areas. 

Eric O’Dea is a junior biology major with interest in philosophy and fitness.

Eric O’Dea