Want Better Workouts? Channel Your Inner Athlete
By Marie Elizabeth Oliver
Let’s face it; hitting the gym every day can get boring. Sure, it’s easy to get hooked on the after-effects of a daily workout session, but toiling away on a treadmill (no matter how hilarious that Friends rerun is) doesn’t really count as fun. So why not take the advice of everyone’s favorite umbrella-welding nanny to help kick-start your workout routine? According to Mary Poppins: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun—and snap—the job’s a game.” Pretty genius.
If you’re looking for more scientific evidence, a recent study by the University of Copenhagen revealed that team sports drive motivation and long-term dedication to a physical activity where solo exercise, like jogging, can often fall short.
Even though your days of letterman jackets and pep rallies have passed, you can still take advantage of all the benefits of team sports as an adult. So dig your favorite jersey out of storage and relive your glory days. Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself getting in shape in the process.
- If you loved team sports (like soccer, volleyball, or softball) join an adult recreational league.
These days, there are rec leagues for just about every sport—kickball anyone? Most of them allow you to opt in with an entire team or as an individual. Games usually run once a week for an entire season and end with a finals tournament. To get started, check out sites like Sportsvite.com that can help you locate a league and find a team in your city. If you don’t live in a major metro area or can’t find a league in your town, consider starting one up yourself. Pool staffs from local businesses against each other in the sport of your choice and let the fun begin.
- If you loved cross-country or track, find a running club or marathon training team.
Signing up for races can be a great motivational tool for runners, but why not one-up that by joining a team of dedicated joggers in your neighborhood? The Road Runners Club of America enthusiastically supports local groups and can serve as a resource to connect you with coaches and running events. Similarly, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training combines customized group endurance training with the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people living with cancer.
- If you loved cheerleading or dance team, try a creative aerobics class. Dance-infused workouts, like Zumba, are growing in popularity for a reason. At Zumba sessions, instructors blare hip-moving music and incorporate step work into a high-energy class that’s part exercise, part Latin dance party. Check your gym’s class schedule regularly to see what’s being offered, and don’t be afraid to try something new.
- If you loved swimming, share a lane with a masters club in your area. There’s nothing like a coach’s piercing whistle and another person kicking at your heels to turn ho-hum lap swimming into an adrenaline-packed cardio session. United States Masters Swimming operates teams in every region of the country and gives adult swimmers the opportunity to compete in more than 500 local and regional meets per year. Local training sessions are customized to individual members; so don’t worry if your butterfly isn’t quite what it used to be.
If organized sports aren’t your thing, you can still benefit from a little teamwork and coaching. Sign up to meet with a trainer at your local gym or find a workout buddy or two. Simply having someone to hold you accountable can make all the difference.
What’s the most fun workout you’ve tried? Have you stuck with it?