Want to know a secret passion I have recently discovered? I can tell you it's been a real surprise to me and totally out of my comfort zone.
What is this secret passion? Well, for the past few weeks I have been going to a burlesque dance class…and I love it!
I have been to different dance classes before and always found them fun, but never really stuck with them. However, with burlesque I love the whole package ? the wonderful women I get to meet, the outfits, the music, the moves and the chance to perform as a group on-stage.
Burlesque dance feeds me in so many ways and it is helping to keep me fit and super-toned, without me even realising I'm doing ‘exercise'. It's a complete win-win!
Now, I'm not suggesting you sign-up for your local burlesque class (unless you want to and then I would totally recommend it!), but here's how you can apply my five secrets of joyful exercise (that doesn't feel like hard work).
1) Get social
I have always been quite a loner when it comes to exercise. I can find myself in a meditative state when I'm out on my own walking and running ? it's my time.
Saying that, I have found that my most joyful experiences of exercise are when I'm in a group, all moving together and often laughing a lot
If you want to have fun and get fit at the same time ? find at least one other person to do it with. Grab a friend or join a class and make your movement social baby!
Take Action: How can you combine exercising and socialising? Contact a friend or research classes in your area and schedule some fun-time. Put it in your diary now
2) Dress it up
How often have you been to the gym, a class or out for a run in some shabby leggings and a t-shirt you bought back in the nineties? (Maybe that's just me?
When we put on our most worn-out clothes, that's how we tend to feel ? worn-out! It's not particularly inspiring or motivational to be wearing work-out gear that has seen better days.
Now I'm not suggesting you go to burlesque standards when you're exercising. You don't need to wear full make-up, sparkles, high-heels and feathers (because that would just be weird!) Just think about how you could feel more special in your work-out clothes.
Perhaps you could invest in some yummy new training gear? Maybe you could treat yourself to a new sports bra (seriously, support is so important and you will feel 100% better). How about some colourful trainers to brighten your day?
When you look good, you feel good and your exercise experience will feel fabulous.
Take Action: Go through your work-out clothes and throw out anything that is old and worn-out. Treat yourself to at least one new item and feel good every time you put it on.
3) Magic Music
One of the things I love about my burlesque class is the music. A good song is guaranteed to lift the spirits.
Have you ever noticed how when you are listening to your favourite music, you are transported back to another time in your life? You might be reminded of your youth, when you met your partner or a wonderful holiday.
I always notice that when a song I like comes on at the gym, I automatically step up a gear. It doesn't feel like an effort, my body just responds to the music.
Whatever exercise you choose to do, combine it with some top tunes and the experience will become more joyful.
Take Action: Create a playlist of your favourite songs to listen to when you work-out. Include any music that takes you back to special times.
4) Challenge Yourself
Can you think of a time when you pushed yourself and stepped out of your comfort zone? I'm sure you felt apprehensive beforehand, but didn't you feel great afterwards?
When we keep doing the same things, over and over, we slip into a trance-like state. This state is very comfortable, but it's not particularly joyful and we can end up feeling disconnected.
Whenever you choose to challenge yourself and do something different, your senses wake up, you feel more present and get that wonderful buzz of excitement ? you feel alive!
I have certainly found this with my burlesque classes. Learning the routines, the different moves, wearing high-heels (which I never normally do!) and the thought of performing on stage all push me out of my comfort zone. And I love it! By the end of the class, I feel a sense of achievement and empowerment which I just wouldn't get from going for a run.
So, how could you challenge yourself with your exercise routine? Is there an event you could enter? Is there a new activity you have always wanted to try? If you feel a tingle of excitement and trepidation as you think about it, you're on the right track.
Allow yourself to step-up and out of your comfort zone.
Take Action: Set yourself a goal of an exercise challenge that excites you. Write it down, share it with friends and be clear about how and when you will do it. Go girl!
5) Set your intention for JOY!
Whatever exercise you choose to do, it can be joyful. You simply need to set your intention to enjoy the experience.
If you head out the door looking down and dreading what you are about to do, you can guarantee it will be pretty hard work.
In contrast, if you tell yourself, ‘I'm doing something wonderful for myself right now', ‘I'm becoming strong and powerful', ‘I love to move my body!', then you will find that you feel more motivated. You will find the whole experience much more enjoyable and you will flow more easily.
Remember, you are in control of your thoughts and your feelings. You are in control of your experience, so set your intention for joy and that is what you will get (even at the gym!).
Take Action: Think of some encouraging and supportive statements you can say to yourself before and during exercise. Write them down. Notice how you feel more powerful and in control as you say them.
Which of these secrets resonated with you most? Share your thoughts in the comments below and let me know what action you are ready to take right now. Remember, when you commit to something in writing and in public, you are much more likely to do it!
If you enjoyed this article and would like to discover more ways to feel joyful, click here to grab yourself a copy of my free ebook, ‘Love Your Body. A guide to creating an attitude to self-love and nurture'.