Let’s face it: Exercising usually sucks. Lifting weights in a gym is annoying. Running is downright boring. Swimming is about as fun as getting sprayed by a fire hose.
That’s the bad news. The good news is, there are unlimited other ways to stay in shape, some of which don’t suck! I, of course, climb a lot of rocks, so I might be a tad biased here, but I still think that climbing is the single best path toward an excellent all-over physique. Muscles you never knew existed will get stressed for the first time. I guarantee, after your first day climbing, you’ll be sore all over, and in places you didn’t expect. (“Why are my thighs sore? Isn’t climbing all upper body?” Hell, no!) Like any good workout, you’ll be sore for 3-5 days afterwards. Get over that first plateau and you’ll have already made major gains in strength and physique.
Fall in Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT
“OK, so climbing sounds fun, but I live in Iowa! The nearest cliffs are three hundred miles away!” That’s OK, just go to one of the hundreds of climbing gyms nationwide. They’ll (hopefully) be friendly and accepting of newcomers, and unlike normal gyms, you won’t be surrounded by meatheads. If you’re lucky enough to have rocks or mountains nearby, find a guide and get after it!
If climbing isn’t your cup of tea, there are lots of other ways to get in shape and trim fat, that don’t suck! Find a yoga or pilates studio — both are excellent ways to build core strength — and often you can sit in on a class for free. Take your bike to work in the mornings — you might find the cool morning air to be quite invigorating, not to mention the extra boost of energy to start the day! Go cross-country skiing, hiking, or canoeing some weekend. Downhill skiing is actually a pretty poor workout, as it doesn’t do anything for you aerobically, and really only builds a couple large muscles in your upper legs. Now if you hike to the top instead of taking a lift, that’s a different story!
It’s not all easy and fun, though. If an activity isn’t at least a little difficult, it’s probably not doing much for you physically. Athletes swear by the maxim “no pain, no gain,” which is unfortunately often the case for upper-level workouts. But would you rather be a little sore from hiking in the hills when the leaves are changing, or dodging traffic running the local park loop? It’s all about the experience, and if you can find something that you enjoy enough to not even notice the difficulties involved, you’re set. So get out there!