Why I Workout

 Yes, my shoelaces don't match. It's a long story but I like it.

Yes, my shoelaces don't match. It's a long story but I like it.

Maybe it's pre-summer excitement and everyone working on their #summerbody (please let that term and mindset die), but over the past few weeks, the topic du jour seems to be why people exercise. I’ve read blog posts and mini blog-like Instagram captions on the subject as well as had the conversation with my cousin who said that I am able to indulge in desserts because I “workout like an adult.”

Considering that on my recent trip for my sister’s graduation, among my many snacks were two brownies and a Rice Krispie treat, I can see why one might think that I work out so I can eat. I would be lying if I didn’t say that there were times in the past when eating became one of my motivating factors, for me exercise has always been my release and way to clear my head.

Growing up, we had gym class and were required to play sports; thus movement was part of my everyday whether I wanted it to be or not. As is generally true when something is forced on you, you don’t want it. Once I got to high school and no longer had to play a sport every season, regardless of whether I could shoot a basketball or hit a softball (I can’t do either, but give me a field hockey stick and I’ll drive the sh*t out of that ball), I found myself drawn back to movement. The summer before my junior year of high school I did a month-long arts program at Bennington College and was wildly homesick. I felt so out of sorts with peers who were far “artier” than I and needed to find something to take me away each day, something where it wouldn't matter if I fit in with my dorm mates. My mom suggested that I try going to the gym. Hopeful but skeptical, I took my Juicy Couture-shorted self (it was the early aughts, they were the thing to wear) to the college's gym. At first, it felt right but then all of the people I was trying to escape came pouring in and with them, my insecurity. Plan B: Running. I wasn’t running for time or distance, or anything other than to literally run away. Those 20 minutes each day were transformative. I would come back to my room feeling refreshed and restored, ready to rejoin the adolescent throng and try to make my J.Crew apparel fit in with everyone else’s vintage finds.

 Flybarre Halloween 2016. Sometimes I workout because it means dressing up. That's me, aka Chewy, on the left.

Flybarre Halloween 2016. Sometimes I workout because it means dressing up. That's me, aka Chewy, on the left.

Ever since Bennington, working out has been my place to recharge and where I go when I feel out of sorts or out of my element. The jungles of Belize: barre on the balcony, study abroad or any travel: hit the gym, having a bad day and need to let it out: hello Flywheel. No matter where I am, the machines, the sweat, the sneakers, they’re all the same. Sure in Europe they speak to me in kilometers and kilograms and I just hit “enter,” but when the clock hits zero, the sweat is the same and that time in my head, with my (or the instructor's) music, never fails to restore my soul. Through fitness I've met some of my closest friends and come to realize just how strong I am. If working out also means that I don’t need to be worried about having dessert everyday, then so be it, but workout or not, I’m having my brownie.       

Why do you workout? Does #summerbody make you cringe too?