The Best Workout Secret: Stop Working Out

We adults are big balls of snooze, aren’t we? We have no energy. We pay bills. We complain about how busy we are and what a drag it is to work out.

We might have nobody to blame for this rut we’re in but ourselves.

The other day I was watching adults at a bounce house, and they could not have looked more miserable. I had to look around to make sure I wasn’t in a tax or dentist office.

Their kids were squealing with delight, bouncing non-stop, while the parents sat there lined up on the benches, shoulders slumped, staring at their phones, their texting thumbs the only body parts getting exercise.

You could nearly taste the bile of anti-joy and adult-onset resentment in the air while their kids giggled and jumped themselves into a red-faced, sweaty-head frenzy.

I looked at the adults.

I looked at the kids.

I made a decision to fight the lack of fun that inherently comes with being an adult, and I took off my shoes.

I climbed up into the bounce house with my wide-eyed son who was over the moon that I was joining him. I jumped so much and so hard, my butt was so sore the next day I had to giggle.

I made a mental note to start incorporating more fun, anti-adult activities in my life to offset the daily doldrums of life.

We all should be exercising and staying active to feel good, but why can’t we just play? Think about when you were a kid. You rode your bike. You played baseball. You danced. You categorized these things as play, not working out. They were something you wanted to do, not had to do.

Now that we’re adults, we equate working out with suffocating forms of measurement like tracking our steps, counting our calories, walking miserably on a treadmill while watching TV.

We’re overthinking it way too much and could learn something from our hyper, drooling kids.

Less thinking. More ridiculous playing, please.

Maybe we’re afraid playing will make us seem less adult and leaves the door open for judgment from others. Playing doesn’t mean we’re immature and can’t balance a budget, cook dinner or run a company.

Let’s chill out a little and realize playing and letting others think we’re idiots is the best workout ever.

I started wanting more play in my life this past winter when my kids were sledding on a hill by our house. I was freezing, so I made up an excuse that I had to get inside to start dinner. My kids begged me to stay out a bit longer.

It was like I saw my life from an outsider’s perspective in that moment. I realized I was becoming a boring adult who didn’t take time to have fun. Dinner could be late. I could be a fun mom instead of a really efficient mom.

I ran up the hill, clumsily falling and sliding back down again before finally making it to the top. We all ran and climbed so much, we could barely catch our breaths between that and laughing so hard.

Running up a slippery, icy hill and laughing until you cry is not something you find at the gym. Note to self: It should be at the gym, right?

I can’t tell you how many steps I take in a day. I don’t need an overpriced wristband to tell me it’s a ton. I don’t need an app on my phone to tell me how many calories I’ve burned because I don’t care.

I can’t tell you how often I work out because it’s in spurts of riding bikes up the hill and having races, having dance parties where I’m a total nerd, or times when I’m squeezing in some yoga in the morning while my kids yawn on the couch and we chat about the day.

I chase my kids around the house and set the timer for 10 minutes while making ridiculous monster sounds, pretending I’m trying to get bologna out of their belly buttons. I know, it’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard, but it sure beats walking like a zombie on a treadmill, right?

I’m going to keep fighting the pull of the bench at the bounce house. I’m going to keep jumping, chasing, dancing, and sledding until I can’t move. When I leave this earth, I’m hoping they will say I was a fun mom, not that I had a perfect body from going to the gym all the time.


YOUR Jagged Journey: What fun play activity do you miss from when you were a kid? Can you think of how you can sprinkle more fun into your life? I’d love to hear your comments below!

About Rebecca Rine

Rebecca Rine is a nonfiction writer living in Dayton, Ohio, transplanted from Chicago. She contributes to the Dayton Daily News as well as public radio. Her first book of essays is called "Sunbathing in a Body Cast" and is currently working on a book about surviving divorce called "Face Your Divorce Poo." Yay!

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