After a workout recently my wife noted…“maybe people who exercise are just happy people.” Really? Come on, the world is full enough of trite, bumper-stickery ideas that don’t really hold up, particularly when it comes to health and fitness. Sure, I get the whole endorphin thing, that people feel better and maybe they have more energy, but really, consistently happier? To the point where you’d tag that as a reason why an exercise approach is working for you better than any you’ve tried previously?
After a meaningful stretch at Trident Crossfit, I think maybe ‘tis true and the result of more than just endorphins. Let me explain, and share a few examples (from my schlub-prevention fitness effort that’s been a couple years in the making) that might help any out there considering a different fitness approach.
My wife and I had just finished a Saturday class at Trident (yes, we appear to have found a way for both of us to consistently exercise despite the madness of our life with J-O-B’s, kids, mid-life miscellany… more on that in a bit). And we were remarking that for the first time either of us could remember, we were developing that feeling where exercise isn’t a chore, where it starts to become fun and where you start to plan your life around getting more of it, rather than letting life’s commitments dictate that you get less.
I’m stopping there fore a second because for me that’s a huge blankin’ deal. So many times I’ve heard my fitter friends jones for a workout and carp about how off they feel when they can’t get one in. My reaction…either a) that’s crap, can’t be true, poser, please stop or b) wish I felt that way but I sure don’t and how much less of a schlub would I be if I actually did.
But I think it’s actually happening. I worked out four times this past week at Trident. For me that’s nuts. And I did so not because of any particular goal or number. I just felt myself wanting to make time, wanting to spike my day with the good buzz a morning shot of crossfit has been giving me. After coming back from shoulder surgery in the fall (another Ben Kittredge production), I’ve been at this second tour at Trident for 6 weeks and I’m finding my interest level rising not receding.
So back to the happiness thing. Part of what’s working so much for us at Trident is the great vibe, Andrea, Chriss, Chad, Karen, Dave, et al have created. It’s just a positive, can-do sort of joint led by folks that really get you going. But what my wife really got at with her observation is that the good vibe there also has a lot to do with the other folks in the classes.
Always seems like an energetic, chatty and pretty happy bunch at the Trident warehouse off Route 1. On a Saturday like this one for example, you had 20 or more people from all points on the fitness spectrum, scrambling around, working HARD. But having fun. It’s crazy talk. Seriously I really can’t believe I’m saying it, but it was fun. And I’ll be damned if my fellow sweaters and grunters weren’t having fun too. At the change over between classes (my wife and I tag teamed, handing over kids at the turn from the 8:30-9:30 classes), the place was abuzz, in a word, happy.
Why though? Is it just a random cluster of particularly friendly and cheery folk? Maybe, but I doubt it. I bet there’s just as many hang-ups, quirks and adversity hanging around that bunch as any other collection of 30 or 40 somethings in a stress soaked region like this one. No, I’m coming around to this view that the fitness pros have maybe known all along. Getting exercise, particularly when you find a kind that can be fun as well as challenging, maybe can make you feel not just better, but a little happier. And maybe that vibe rubs off, sort of a positive sneeze effect that makes for fitness places like Trident where you want to go at it and stay at it in a way you haven’t before. Time will tell but so far that’s a helluva thing.
Speaking of time telling, for any interested less in all this vibe stuff and more in some specifics about what’s making this work… a few quick hitters that might be useful if you’re considering a new fitness approach:
- A busy couples fitness plan that works – Trident has classes plenty early in the AM so at the beginning of the week we pick which mornings one of us goes and the other stays home with the kids. Occasionally, the schedule means we both need to go the same day. So we go to back-to-back classes, one of us leaving class right before the end of a session and the other showing up a smidge late for the next. Cuts short the stretching a bit but totally works and it’s fun to debrief and chat about what was the hardest, most fun, etc. after the fact.
- You provide you, the rest is handled – Another thing I’m loving so far… you don’t have to do a bunch of planning, tracking or thinking about your workouts. In fact it’s more like none of the above, which is great when there’s so much else going on in your life. You just show up. The Trident crew does the rest. I.e. coming up with fun and fresh workouts (a recent one included a deck of cards… seriously), guiding you on form and function, tracking your outputs, getting you to do cool down you might otherwise skip. When you leave, you’re done.
- Community tips and tricks aplenty – Not surprisingly there’s a nice community growing up around Trident which means lots of sources of helpful tips and tricks on various topics related to getting in shape. In particular, I’ve found the nutrition part really useful, learning from instructors and classmates about all kinds of good online sources (mark’s daily apple for exampe), nutrition approaches, etc. And several local outfits (like Catalyst) deliver high quality, prepared foods and grassfed meats directly to the gym.
So we’ll see. Time will be the real judge but finding regular exercise fun and wanting to do more is uncharted territory that feels like a good sign. And at the center of that so far is a happy place with some seemingly happy folks in it. Seems like something I could get used to.