Let’s make physical activity fun again

Have you ever watched a two-year-old bop along joyously to a favorite song? Or a preschooler dash around a playground with glee? Young children intrinsically know that moving our bodies is fun! And then, somewhere along the way, we lose that. This New Year, let’s resolve to rediscover the joy of movement in our own lives. Here’s how.

Fun, not fitness

Getting regular exercise is easier said than done, isn’t it? Maybe you still cringe at the memory of high school gym class. Maybe you find the thought of working out at a gym boring. Maybe exercise classes feel intimidating. But who says that exercise has to be spin class, jogging, or lifting weights?

From ballerina to pole artist: One woman’s journey

Pole artist and instructor Rebecca Karpus discovered the world of pole after growing up as a trained ballerina. Like many children, she started dancing at a very young age and fell in love with it. After dancing professionally in university, she decided to pursue a different career path. Long days in the studio were replaced with long days at the office, which left her feeling incomplete. She deeply missed the artistry of dance but struggled to find the perfect dance alternative. “I tried going to the gym. I tried yoga. I tried Pilates. Nothing really clicked for me,” she explains.

Eventually, on a whim, Karpus attended a pole class at a nearby studio several years ago. “I thought I would hate it,” she laughs, “but it was so exciting!” She explains that there is a lot of stigma associated with pole dancing. “But pole dancing isn’t always sexy. It can be very athletic or very dance-y. It is a great exercise, an amazing creative outlet, and a wonderful, supportive community. Pole [dancing] filled the void that ballet had left.”

Find your own joy

Looking for a unique movement idea? Ask yourself what type of activity might bring you joy. Consider something …

  • outdoorsy (such as mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding)
  • artistic (such as pole dancing, belly dancing, or ballroom dancing)
  • you can do with others (such as ultimate Frisbee, curling, roller derby, pickleball, tennis, or square dancing)
  • you can do solo (such as yoga, tai chi, Nordic walking, or running)
  • with little commitment needed (such as drop-in aquafit, public skating, or an adult outdoor jungle gym)
  • you’ve wanted to try since childhood (such as gymnastics, fencing, horseback riding, martial arts, or hockey)
  • for the whole family (such as backyard picnic games, treetop adventure courses and ziplines, or canoeing)

This year, let’s think outside the box and focus on fun and not fitness. Let’s listen to our inner toddler and move our bodies simply because it feels amazing! We deserve it.

By Leah Payne