I am not a big fan of exercise. OK, let’s be plain – I don’t like exercise at all. I never have. It’s not hard to deduce that from one look at me, but even when I was a normal-sized person, I was never the most active. I guess some people are just born with lesser athleticism and a greater desire to not move than others, and I’ve always been one of those people. I was never part of any school sports team, and anything that involved running was pretty much the bane of my existence.
Through the years, not much has changed. I’m more active now than I was in my youth, but that’s just because I have more need to now. I still don’t like running, and don’t feel any of the so-called highs people experience afterwards. Endorphins? Adrenaline? Nah. For me, it’s just that lovely sensation of feeling like you’re about to keel over and die. I don’t know if being fitter will make me feel less like death at the end of a run, but I do know that it’s unlikely I’ll ever finish and feel good.
Through the years, I’ve tried different types of exercise, most of which have led nowhere because a) I don’t like doing them, b) I’m not good at them, c) they’re too solitary or d) some combination of the three. The only form of exercise I’ve ever enjoyed was playing badminton, and that’s because it’s always felt less like an exercise session and more like a fun sport. Maybe it was the only one I was ever semi-decent at, so with a good opponent, I didn’t mind the physical exertion. I never thought of it as something I had to do as part of my exercise quota, so it was always enjoyable.
Last year, I discovered zumba. During my long period of unemployment, I was told that someone conducted zumba classes in the neighbouring condominium, so I signed up out of curiosity. I like music, I like dancing, so it seemed to me that I’d like zumba too. I wasn’t wrong. It was exercise, but like with badminton, I never felt like it was work. What surprised me was realising that I still had a knack for dance. I had danced in my school days (in both contemporary and classical styles), but it had been so long since I had done it as a proper thing, I didn’t realise I still had it in me. I picked up steps quickly, I could keep good rhythm, and gradually, more and more people in class started depending on me to help them keep up.
Zumba showed me that exercise didn’t have to be painstaking and misery-inducing. It showed me that I could work my butt off and not feel like death personified afterwards. It made me realise that I exercise best in the company of others, and that it doesn’t require tremendous willpower to keep exercising if you actually enjoy yourself doing it. I made some great friends during my zumba (many of them middle-aged housewives with whom I had nothing in common, but whose company I enjoyed anyway), and all in all, those few months were a blast.
My zumba teacher moved away a month or two back, but I’ve since joined a fitness club that allows me to take various group classes. So, in addition to zumba and other cardio activities, I get to take yoga and strength classes too. I don’t know anyone in the classes, but just being around people sweating it out and working hard makes me feel more inspired and motivated. It’s fun, and I’m discovering a whole new side to exercise that I’m a lot more receptive to.
Speaking of exercises, this marks the end of the A to Z challenge! Now that it’s finally over, I can only say one thing for certain – I’m zonked. Peace out, yo. I’m off for some zen time.