Why I Refuse to Commit to One Workout Program—Even If It Means I'll Suck at Stuff
Having worked at Shape for over a year, I'm exposed to countless inspiring stories of fitness feats, über-successful athletic individuals, and pretty much every type of workout known to (wo)man. Watching people struggle through mile 16 of the NYC Marathon makes me want to lace up and earn one of those silver space blankets of victory. Watching CrossFitters do barbell backflips and crush burpee world records makes me want to drink the Kool-Aid and make a box my second home. Seeing the epic #girlpower displayed at a local female powerlifting meet makes me want to lift all the heavy shit. Listening to the inspirational tale of women conquering high peaks and grand adventures across the Earth makes me want to move out of New York City and take on mountaineering as a full-time job.
The problem, though, is that to reach this level of success in anything (yoga, running, lifting, triathlons, etc.), you have to say yes to one thing, and say no to a lot. Don't get me wrong-there's immense power in knowing what you want, resisting outside influence, staying true to yourself, and simply saying no. (After all, that's why we're dedicating the month of March to filtering out the BS and zeroing in on the stuff that makes you happiest and healthiest.)
But what if I don't want to say no? What if I want to be kinda-okay at every single type of fitness there is, and rest easy knowing that I'll probably never be a serious marathoner, powerlifter, triathlete, CrossFit games contender, yogi extraordinaire, or person who can get through a Megaformer class without resting-but I'll be fit and mentally flexible enough to try to tackle anything that comes my way? Toss me in a 5K, and I won't be the last to finish. Challenge me to 100 burpee box jumps and I can definitely hold my own. Ask me, what's your workout of choice? And I'll just stare at you blankly. "All of them" doesn't count as a favorite, right?
Don't get me wrong-I'm not saying you can't do several different workouts really well. (Just look at these workouts that perfectly pair as cross-training.) And I'm not throwing shade on the people who do find a fitness specialization and absolutely crush it at one or two things. I'm just saying that, IMHO, variety is the spice of life-and I like my fitness routine with a dash of every damn spice in the cabinet.
Maybe it's because I grew up as a cheerleader-which I'm now realizing is the ultimate form of cross-training (and might even become an Olympic sport). Between the fun and flair of dance-cardio style choreography, intense plyometrics, gymnastics-style tumbling, lifting other humans in the air, and holding statically stretched poses while balancing on top of a few people's hands, it's a sport that pulls skills from nearly every kind of workout there is. My body is used to the flexibility and balance of yoga, the high intensity of HIIT, the rush of weightlifting, the body awareness and inversions of gymnastics, the agility and mental focus of dance, and the stamina of running to keep doing it over and over and over again. (All with a big, bright smile, mind you.) Trying to edit down my current routine to just one of those workouts makes my movement repertoire feel, well, one-dimensional.
There's something incredible about all the things the human body can do-and I simply can't fathom limiting myself to one, two, or even three of those types of movements for the sake of getting really good at them. I'd rather be a fitness ninja, a jack-of-all-trades who doesn't fit into any one box, with the opportunity and ability to try anything, even if that means I'm stuck in the "average" category of everything I try.
So, BRB, I'm off to try a martial arts-dance-HIIT-lifting fusion class, fall face-first in skis, and not break any world records. And I'm A-OK with that.