If you had an active childhood, you probably have fond memories of playgrounds, parks, and maybe even sports teams. As an adult, watching children can make you marvel at how quickly kids seem to learn how to do new things with their little bodies. Did you ever stop to think, “How do they do that?”
One struggle of pursuing fitness as an adult is teaching your body to handle new and complex movements. Watching someone more skilled and fit than you perform a flawless move might trigger feelings of awe and inspiration, but sometimes you’ll also hear a voice that says “I’ll never be able to do that.”
Take a different perspective
Kids and grown-ups approach these physical challenges differently. Obviously, children’s bodies are flexible as they grow and develop, but there are two other things that give kids a major advantage on the “playing field.”
One thing that’s different is motivation. As a child, you may have been motivated to get to the top of the tree for a good spot during a game of hide-and-seek, or wanted to run fast to first base for a chance to later score a run. As adults, we often have unexciting reasons to exercise—control our weight, manage stress, prevent health problems. While of course these are all positive side effects of a regular work-out routine, they have one thing in common: you can’t measure progress in the moment! Having to wait for results is a very adult skill, but even the most patient can be demotivated when all goals are long-term and there’s no plan for measuring immediate success.
Time is relative
Another factor is time. Children have lots of free time to practice. No job and fewer chores leaves far more hours in the day available for physical activity. As adults, we often need to schedule our workouts just to make sure they happen. It can feel like there’s no time to work out at all, let alone devote hours and hours to practice a difficult move. When you see people who can do things that are not yet in your arsenal, remember that they spent time building their bodies and skills. Chances are good your instructor is, in fact, also a human who had to learn and practice! Take advantage of their experience and ask them for advice and ideas.
Okay, so the time thing is not going away for most of us, but we can improve our attitudes to stop hearing “I can’t.” When you’re doing hard things, try to adopt a little bit of the childhood spirit. Challenge yourself to make what you’re doing into a game. Can you imagine a finish line when you’re running sprints at boot camp? Maybe that’s not a kettlebell you’re lifting, but a magic cauldron—don’t spill the potion! Those aren’t walking lunges, you’re climbing the mountain to catch a view. You might be surprised at how the distraction helps you unleash powers you didn’t know you had. Not only will it be a little more fun, but you can start “winning” every workout, and stop waiting for victories that take weeks or months.
We’d love to hear about a time you “gamified” a workout. Did it make it easier to push through? Do you have any other tips? Let us know in the comments!