Last week, I posted a blog with a different kind of challenge...a challenge to break your rules by doing things like ditching your iPod or closing your magazines/books/whatnot and focusing on your workouts. I wasn't surprised by some of the comments that post inspired:
"Not having my iPod makes running on cardio machines a nearly unbearable slog."
"I catch up on my podcasts while exercising...i know beats and rhythms are supposed to push your speed up, but these programs keep me walking and interested and learning. i think it is a decent trade off."
"I am completely in disagreement with this article. I have been doing a 60min step machine 5-6 times a week for the past year and a bit and you know what I do? I read text books. Reading is the only thing that keeps me motivated everyday. Without books I can barely survive 30mins checking time every minute...if you found something that works for you, keep on doing it. There absolutely no need to change anything."
"I think the home circuit is a great idea but I could never work out without music"
Is it wrong to have things that distract us from our workouts? Things we enjoy doing and that keep us exercising, even as we zone out? I don't think so. Certainly, the idea of getting on a treadmill without my iPod makes me break out into hives. In fact, we may sometimes need those kinds of workouts to keep us going.
However, I can't help but wonder if we aren't missing out on something if all of our workouts involve that kind of distraction.
I'm thinking of two things here. One, there's something a little magical about those times when you genuinely focus on what you're doing...feel your body, feel your strength, feel yourself going through the movements and doing them right. That connection with our bodies is something we often only feel when we exercise...if all we do is distract ourselves, are we missing out on that flow? That 'runner's high' feeling?
Two, if our workouts are boring and miserable, shouldn't we look at that, find a way to change what we're doing so we don't have to have that distraction all the time? Reader number 3 above does an hour on the step machine 5-6 times a week. If I did that, I would absolutely need a distraction. So, is there an opportunity there? If you take away the distraction, could you then look, really look at your workouts and wonder if there's a better way? Something less miserable, more fulfilling?
If this person were my client, the first thing I would do would be to shake things up and introduce something totally different, something refreshing...something exciting. Circuit training, or a medley on different machines. Maybe setting a challenge like the pushups test, just to inspire some interest, some attention and, therefore, the unique satisfaction that comes from working hard and paying attention at the same time.
Maybe those dutiful workouts are necessary sometimes. We do our time, we burn our calories, we've checked off another workout. But, can't there be more? What happens when we turn everything off and focus on what's happening? If it's miserable, is that an opportunity for change?
What do you think? Leave a comment and tell us your thoughts.