I was always a tomboy growing up.  Sure, I liked dolls and girly things.  When I was REAL little, my Mom dressed me in those frilly dresses, frilly pants and little ankle socks with the ruffled edges.  There were lots of boys in the neighborhood so we’d all ride bikes, shoot baskets, play kickball and baseball.  I remember riding my bike once, and I went up into a crushed stone driveway to turn around.  I lost traction, the bike fell, and I went down onto my right knee.  I got up got back onto the bike with my bleeding knee.  I remember one of the boys asking if I was okay, and I said, “Yes.  I have to go home now.”  I didn’t start wailing until I was halfway up the street.  I still have scars on my knee from that fall.  When I visited my Grandmother’s house (usually every weekend), my cousin and I spent a lot of time throwing a ball (baseball or football) around.  I was pretty active, and it was fun.

Once I got to school, athletics was no longer about having fun.  It got to be a lot more competitive.  In the team sports, everyone wanted to win.  If it was individual activities, it was always a competition to see who was the best.  I did not excel in gym class.  I hated being the center of attention so the individual stuff made me uncomfortable.  The team stuff was bad because all it took was some mean girl making a nasty comment about something I’d screwed up and I was devastated.  I changed gym classes because of that very thing once.  A girl had decided to make my life miserable and taunt me every class so I asked to be moved.  They put me into a different class of younger students, and I became a “leader” (or teacher’s assistant).

The only after school sport I participated in was bowling.  There again, although it was a competition, it was also fun.  I went with the same group of girls who were my closest friends, and we had a riot.  We didn’t care if we threw a gutter ball or not, and we had a ton of laughs. When I met my husband, we used to go bowling when we were dating.  We sometimes bowled with his parents.  We even belonged to a league at one point.  I started to lose interest when I realized how seriously Eric was taking the whole thing.  He’d tell me what I was doing wrong if I didn’t get a strike.  He’d get very down on himself and frustrated and upset if he did not do well.  He wanted to win. It was no longer fun for me.

I belonged to a gym for a few years when I worked downtown.  The Bausch & Lomb building had a gym for their employees, and they opened it up to others.  I worked at Nixon Peabody at the time, and we were right across the street.  I joined with a bunch of women in my department, and we went for the fun of it.  We did the step aerobics classes together, we did the weights machines, the treadmills, the steppers and the bikes.  It was a lot of fun.  When I left that department to move to the Patents group in my firm, I was no longer on the same schedule as my friends were.  I only saw them every so often at the gym.  I liked to go early to beat the rush and get back within 60 minutes.  I stopped doing the step classes because of the timing. It wasn’t as much fun doing things alone so eventually I stopped going altogether.
Recently I’ve been thinking of joining Planet Fitness, but there again, it would be a solo attendance, and I don’t think it would be as much fun.  I’d have to get up and go very very early in the morning, and I haven’t been able to motivate myself to do that yet. I have arthritis in my knee, and I have tendonitis in both Achilles tendons.  I have found when I don’t exercise, everything hurts and I move like I am 20 years older than I really am.  I have a stationary cycle and a manual treadmill at home so I usually exercise here now, but I wouldn’t say it was ever “fun”.

I do think the key for me and being successful with any kind of exercise program is to have fun with it.  I either have to trick myself into thinking I am having fun and then I enjoy it more, or I have to find an exercise buddy so that whatever I do becomes more about fun and friendship than exercising.

Along the way I found a couple of amusing quotes about exercise –

“Exercise is bunk.  If you are healthy you don’t need it.
If you are sick you shouldn’t take it.”
Henry Ford
“I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting.”
Mark Twain

I don’t subscribe to either of those philosophies. My favorite exercise quotation isn’t truly about exercise –

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”
Sir Richard Steele
Give me a good book any day.