Fitness Doesn’t Replace Recreation, But It Makes Play Possible

Hey friends, and welcome to this episode of HGTV! Today I want to take 3 minutes to tell you a story about how the temper tantrum that I saw in the park this morning can help you improve your relationship to exercise.

Yes, seriously.

If you’ve been following along, you know that my wife Katie and I have been doing down to Jackie Robinson Park to work on her bike handling skills – which, by the way, she’s absolutely crushing.

There are a few kids, maybe 3-5 years old, that we see playing in the park every morning, and they’re adorable.  This morning when one of the moms started the round-up call with, “Okay guys, grab your…” one of the kids jumped on his scooter, and ran away as quickly as he could, screaming, “I don’t want to go inside yet!”

As not the parent, ugh that temper tantrum was absolutely adorable. I feel bad for him, but I’m also so excited about it.

The overall message that I’ve been sharing recently is that we should focus on play and recreation as our primary forms as physical activity, and that while exercise is a fantastic tool for changing the body, it’s not actually the best tool for having a good time.

Seeing this kid zooming around on his scooter in the park and then vehemently protest going back inside, it reminded me of how I felt as a kid – I wanted to play outside with my friends from dawn to dusk, and it’s that desire to play that I want for more adults – I want that for us. We live in a society where play has been devalued, where in the words of British pediatrician D.W. Winnicott:

“There is for many a poverty of play.”

For every adorable child who’s playing outside with no intention of stopping, there’s an apathetic adult who’s passing up a workout to do something more fun.

For some reason there are personal trainers who are trying to tell people why they need the discipline to follow a structured training plan. Maybe instead of focusing on fitness, we should focus on fun.

And no, I don’t mean we should try to make workouts fun – I mean we should just go do the fun things. Let’s be really literal about this: Imagine if rather than returning to your big-box gym after the covid-19 restrictions were lifted, you spend 30 minutes scooting around on your driveway or in the local park.  Wouldn’t that be more fun than staring at the countdown on the elliptical?

Imagine if rather than hiding in the back of a steamy hot spin class, you went for a bike ride on your local bike path?

Imagine if rather than turning Indian Clubs, you played badminton.  If instead of swinging a mace, you played lacrosse. If instead of setting up an agility ladder on a field to practice for a sport you don’t actually play anymore, what if you just played the sport. Hit golf balls instead of throwing medicine balls.  Get rollerblades instead of getting on a slideboard.

We’ve been taught by our collective societal obsession with workism, with the hustle and the grind, that physical activity needs to be codified and commodified, that play is for children, and that exercise is everything.

And so for some of us, exercise is the only thing.

But fitness doesn’t replace play – fitness makes play possible. Fitness is about building the physical capacity so that when you do play you can do so with the utmost of creativity and freedom, and not be bound by your body.

Sure, you can have fun while you’re exercising – that would be ideal for a whole lot of us – but if we have activities that we love doing as much that kid loved riding his scooter, I think most of us would have a much different relationship with exercise, physical activity, and our bodies.

If you currently have a leisure or recreation activity that you love, please, for your physical and mental health – don’t ever give that activity up.

And if you don’t currently have an activity that you’re absolutely head over heels in love with, now is the PERFECT time to fall in love.  What’s something that you used to do for fun that you stopped doing? What’s a new activity that you’ve always wanted to try? Take this time to make that happen.

I want us to all be able to search for the activities, to experiment and explore until we uncover the experiences that truly move us while we move, so that we are as passionate about what we’re doing as a four year old on a scooter.

Alright friends, that’s it for this episode of HGTV, thanks for joining me! I’d love to know what’s been calling to you, what activities you’re missing, what activities you’re enamored with – what are you doing for FUN right now, and what can you do to have even more fun in the future. Send me a message or leave a comment and let me know!

As always, you can read these words on HaroldGibbons.com

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Hey friends, and welcome to this episode of HGTV! Today I want to take 3 minutes to tell you a story about how the temper tantrum that I saw in the park this morning can help you improve your relationship to exercise. This morning when one of the moms started the round-up call with, “Okay guys, grab your…” one of the kids jumped on his scooter, and ran away as quickly as he could, screaming, “I don’t want to go inside yet!” Seeing this kid zooming around on his scooter in the park and then protest going back inside, it reminded me of how I felt as a kid – I wanted to play outside with my friends from dawn to dusk, and it’s that desire to play that I want for more adults – I want that for us. We live in a society where play has been devalued, where in the words of British pediatrician D.W. Winnicott, “There is for many a poverty of play.” For every adorable child who’s playing outside with no intention of stopping, there’s an apathetic adult who’s passing up a workout to do something more fun. Maybe instead of focusing on fitness, we should focus on fun. I don’t mean we should try to make workouts fun – I mean we should just go do the fun things. Imagine if rather than returning to your big-box gym after the covid-19 restrictions were lifted, you spend 30 minutes scooting around on your driveway or in the local park.  Wouldn’t that be more fun than staring at the countdown on the elliptical? We’ve been taught by our collective societal obsession with workism, with the hustle and the grind, that physical activity needs to be codified and commodified, that play is for children, and that exercise is everything. And so for some of us, exercise is the only thing. I want us to all be able to search for the activities, to experiment and explore until we uncover the experiences that truly move us while we move, so that we are as passionate about what we’re doing as a four year old on a scooter. Alright friends, that’s it for this episode of HGTV. I’d love to know what’s been calling to you, what activities you’re missing, what activities you’re enamored with – what are you doing for FUN right now? As always, you can read these words on HaroldGibbons.com 👋

A post shared by Harold Kaufman-Gibbons | Coach (@harold_gibbons) on

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