For some, exercise can be a damaging term, but the ‘Joyful Movement’ approach puts a new positive spin on it. I tried it out and now, I’ll never go back.
I’ve always struggled with exercise. I was never the sportiest kid and I dreaded P.E at school. Changing rooms were never a nice place for me, and the connection between them and forced exercise made it even worse. It completely put me off moving my body and trying to keep healthy. Up until very recently, I still thought this way.
Lockdown Changed Everything
During lockdown I used my extra free time to get back into movement, experimenting with all kinds of different exercises to find one that worked for me. I found running and HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) worked best for me, but I was still my own worst enemy. I would set myself targets, and challenges: ‘You can’t stop until the next corner’ ‘Run for another ten minutes’. Whilst setting targets isn’t always a bad thing, if I didn’t achieve them then it left me feeling guilty and like I wasn’t good enough.
Then, I watched a Youtube video by Lucy Wood where she talked about Joyful Movement. She explained how it was about feeling good over feeling pain, about choice rather than a regiment. Really intrigued by the idea, I looked it up for myself.
The Movement Celebration
The Movement Celebration credit the origins of Joyful Movement to Linda Bacon of the HAES framework, a community that aids people’s relationships with their bodies. Instead of exercising for weight loss or guilt, it promotes listening to your body. Does it need rest? Do I enjoy this exercise? Instead of constantly thinking about calories or that ‘hot girl summer’ body, it takes the mental elements into consideration too.
You may still be thinking ‘Nope, I hate any kind of movement’, but think about when you were a kid. Did you skip, rollerblade, or do gymnastics? Would you consider it joyful movement? So, what’s stopping you from doing that again? Reawaken passions for movement you forgot that you had and you won’t consider it as exercise. Take a break if you need to. If that’s a couple of days or a couple of weeks, it doesn’t matter.
As long as you come back to it because it brings you joy. As soon as you take words such as ‘compulsive’ or ‘diet’ out of the equation, it becomes less of a hurdle.
Never Looking Back
So, I tried it – now when I go for a run, I don’t set out to burn a certain amount of calories or run for a certain distance. I just run until I don’t want to anymore. I do ‘dance HIITs’ by emkfit if I fancy a boogie (her Mamma Mia ones are fab), no longer clock-watching begging for it to end. If I want something more challenging, then I can. It’s my choice.
Switching to this mindset has meant that I look for movement instead of avoiding it. I actively move a lot more now than I used to, all because I’ve detached the negatives from it. If you struggle with exercise, I encourage you to give it a go. Get out your skipping rope, your rollerblades or leotard. Grab a football or a racket and take it to your local park.
Find your own joyful movement.