move like you love it

Motion should feel good.

I think we forget. I know I forget.

It’s complicated, after all.  Most people I know do workouts.  Do you ever do a playout?  The closest we get is sports:

What are you doing for your workout today?

Oh, I’m going to play a game of tennis.

I’ve got a friend who just arrived in Australia for a year.  She rows, so she signed on with a crew team.  That is awesome.  She loves to row.  So pleasure+movement=yay.

She had to start somewhere.  She started rowing when she was 30.  But she has a long relationship with sports, and she knows she likes them.

Me, I’m competition-resistant.  In fact, I think I’m allergic.  I just don’t want to win badly enough to make it a motivator.  

For years, I thought that meant I wasn’t an athlete.  Athletes were Other People.  And I wasn’t particularly graceful, so dancers were Other People, too.  In fact, motion was for Other People.  End of story.

Except, you know, not.

The story didn’t end there because there’s something else that motivates me.

Pleasure.  (come on, you knew it was coming.)

Pleasure motivates me.  A lot.  And there are all kinds of ways that pleasure interacts with bodies in motion.  Sex, of course.  Touch, more broadly.  My world cracked open the day I discovered hugs.  Puppy piles at camp, at church, at drama club saved my life.

But I still didn’t think I was into athletics or exercise.

Then I discovered rock climbing.  It’s a kinesthetic puzzle–a brain-bender in motion.

And contra dancing.  And swing dancing.  And tai chi chuan.  Cross-country skiing.  Hiking.  Kayaking.  Horseback riding.

It’s not that I don’t like using my body.  It’s that I don’t like being bored.  When I’m enjoying myself, I will push my body harder than I ever would at a gym.

I like to play.  I just don’t like competition.

And then one day last spring, I wrote myself a big fat permission slip to play some more.  I was living in Portugal.  Walking a lot.  Walking everywhere.  Splashing in the surf.  Getting daily exercise that wasn’t working out.  And I had started having urges to run–you know, the way kids do when they’re four and sprinting circles around the living room?

So I gave myself permission to just run.  Until it felt icky.  And then stop.  No rules about getting to this many minutes or that milepost, just, you know, for the pleasure of running.

And so I ran.

Unbelievable.  Totally different from all my previous experiences of running, because it wasn’t about ignoring my body, it was about listening to it.  Go when it feels good.  Stop when it doesn’t.

What kinds of motion give you pleasure?

Your body will tell you what it needs.  It’s talking right now.

To practice listening, join the 30 Days, 30 Things project.

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