Exercise Like a Kid

I’ve been writing about yoga and HIIT training to help you get good at other sports. A funny thing happened this morning after Pilates that got me to thinking about sports, and play, and exercise and youth.

One of the young ladies brought a friend to class. Now J. is fairly experienced, the type the instructor will pull up to the front to demonstrate a posture, but it turns out her friend was there for her very first hot Pilates class.

After class we were chatting with the instructor about it, and I quipped that J had set her up in the worst possible spot in the room, within splash distance of the sweaty old bald man (that would be me). New girl’s response was that she liked being right by me, it inspired her to go harder to try and keep up.

Okay, this is weird, I’m old enough to be J and NGs father, and fit young lady is trying to keep up to me.

The point of this story is not to boast about being fit enough at my age to be going harder than a 20(ish) year old. Okay, maybe it is, a little, but it raises a couple of more important points.

First, I remind you that HIIT training makes you younger. It doesn’t just make you look younger, or feel younger, it literally makes your cells, and cellular energy production, younger. And the older you are when you do it, the greater the age reversing benefits.

Second, I wasn’t going hard in that class to impress anyone. In fact, I barely noticed the girls next to me, although I did notice the other old fart in class, and how well he was doing. No, I was going hard because I was having fun.

Let me stress that. I was having fun.

Down the years I’ve spent a lot of time in gyms, martial arts clubs, yoga studios, on the track, etc. The thing I notice is that the people who are having fun, come back. Those for whom it’s a chore, those who aren’t having fun, they disappear.

I can blather on, and on, and on about the amazing, transformative effects of exercise, but all the logic and persuasion in the world comes to nothing if it crashes into the rocks and shoals of, “I don’t like this.” You have to find an exercise regime you enjoy. Not tolerate, enjoy. You go because you’re having fun, everything else is a side benefit.

Which brings me back to sports. Hockey, soccer, basketball, baseball, we call them sports, but we also call them games. We don’t “do” sports, we “play” sports. As in, we do them for fun, and any health and fitness benefits that come along with is a bonus. I don’t play hockey to stay in shape. I play it because it’s fun. That hockey is by its very nature a HIIT workout is meaningless. I don’t go to get in shape, I go to have fun.


When you’re looking for your workout routine, find something that is fun. Do something that if you skip it you’ll actually feel like you cheated yourself out of a good time. And if, like my hot Pilates HIIT training, it keeps you young and healthy, and if it helps you improve in things you enjoy (like it does martial arts and hockey for me), you’re getting benefits stacked on benefits.

And then, when you’re working out, don’t work out. Play. Approach your workout like a child. Any night when it’s not raining I take my five year old out for a bike ride. Sure, he’s getting fresh air, and exercise, and working up an appetite, and burning off excess energy to get ready for bed. Yes, he’s receiving all these benefits, but he’s not going out on his bike looking for them. He’s going out to play.

Be like my five year old. Go out and play. Exercise like a kid, and feel like a kid. Who knows, maybe some day you’ll have a kid tell you, “You were going so fast, I was just trying to keep up.”