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You gotta have fun

Posted: May 6, 2014 8:23 a.m.
Updated: May 7, 2014 5:00 a.m.

I spent some time this past weekend outside at the park. The weather was so nice and warm, but not uncomfortably so. It was perfect weather to just get out of the house and go for a long walk, which I did. I quickly noticed that I wasn’t the only one with that idea; in fact, this was the busiest I’d seen this particular park (which is also a softball field complex) this year.

I find it to be a rather nostalgic experience, seeing middle and high school-aged kids getting out on the softball fields and practicing hitting and fielding. Back in my day, I played a fair share of recreation-league softball and also a few years on my high school’s team.

I was never very good at it. Catching the ball was not my strong suit … in fact the sight of a large, hard object flying towards me often elicited the response where I stuck my gloved hand out, far away from my body, and squeezed my eyes shut. I was a source of endless frustration for my coaches, I’m sure, but when you decide to coach a kids’ team, you are inevitably signing up to be frustrated.

Though I was pretty awful at softball, I loved the team aspect of it, and I always looked forward to practices and games. I played on a basketball team for a few years too and, though I was markedly better at basketball than softball, I was still no “all star.” Sheer talent was never my reason for signing up to be part of these leagues. I did it because I always had fun.

I always look for that when I’m out walking at the park and the kids are practicing with their coaches. I try to determine whether or not they are having fun. Funnily enough, I’ve not yet walked past a team practicing at this particular field that didn’t seem like they were having a good time.

The importance of making an activity fun is crucial when it comes to working with children. However, the need for fun doesn’t disappear when someone becomes an adult. When I go to the gym, I rarely get on any machine or lift the first weight without securing my headphones and finding an upbeat track on my iPod. Like many people, music helps me workout because it makes exercise more fun.

The whole philosophy that makes Zumba classes as wildly popular and successful is that they are fun. You can almost forget you’re spending an hour of your life exercising because the music and movements aren’t your typical aerobic exercise movements.

It’s a form of dancing and when you’re dancing, you’re actually tricking yourself into enjoying exercise. Then, when it’s all said and done, you’re drenched in sweat and exhausted in a good way. It’s a win-win situation.

When it comes to burning calories, whether it’s playing a sport, going out solo or in a group for a walk or a jog or taking a Zumba or other aerobic exercise class -- if you want to be successful with it, you’ve got to find a way to make it fun.

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