Finding Joy In Movement
By Krista Stryker
NSCA-CPT, Precision Nutrition Certified Coach
I first started exercising regularly in my early twenties. Like most people beginning an exercise habit, I wanted to feel better in my body and change how I looked. At the time, I dreaded my workouts. I didn’t know much about exercise and thought running was the only way to get in shape. I’ve never liked to run, so of course, I did everything I could to avoid my workouts.
Over time, I found other ways to build movement into my daily life — activities that resonated much more with me than running. I fell in love with the intensity of HIIT workouts, found a circus coach to teach me handstands, learned to box, and took up martial arts. And while I began my fitness journey mainly intending to change my appearance, what I’ve gotten from it has been so much more than that. Movement has helped me find meaning and purpose, helped me build confidence and learn to believe in myself, and has brought me a tremendous amount of joy over the years.
I believe that movement can do the same for all of us.
In her book, The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage, Stanford psychologist and dedicated group fitness instructor writes that exercise is integral to both our happiness and our humanity:
“People who are regularly active have a stronger sense of purpose, and they experience more gratitude, love, and hope. They feel more connected to their communities, and are less likely to suffer from loneliness or become depressed.”
Movement is deeply ingrained into who we are as humans. But if you haven’t found your “thing” when it comes to physical activity yet, keep experimenting.
One strategy for doing this is to think about the activities you loved doing as a kid. Did you gravitate toward playgrounds and trampoline parks? Try some adult gymnastics classes. Did you love team sports? Adult club sport opportunities are everywhere these days. Get your friends to join you or make new friends who enjoy being active.
We’re extremely lucky to live in a time where opportunities for adult learning are in abundance. You can find adult classes in dance, gymnastics, and martial arts. You can learn to surf, skateboard, or learn aerial silks. You can find local hiking trails, rent a stand-up paddleboard, or any variety of yoga classes. If you can’t find something you’re interested in nearby, check out online learning opportunities.
As McGonigal writes,
“Movement offers us pleasure, identity, belonging and hope. It puts us in places that are good for us, whether that’s outdoors in nature, in an environment that challenges us, or with a supportive community. It allows us to redefine ourselves and reimagine what is possible. It makes social connection easier and self-transcendence possible.”
Movement has been an enormous source of joy in my life. I believe it can do the same for you, too, no matter where you’re at in your journey.
About Krista Stryker
From trying her first push-up in college, to teaching herself to do pull-ups and handstands, Krista is living proof of her philosophy that everybody is an athlete. She is passionate about helping others become stronger inside and out through the intersection of mental and physical fitness. Krista regularly writes on well-being, healthy living, positive psychology, and high performance.
Krista has been featured in The New York Post, The Washington Post, SHAPE Magazine, Train Magazine, Muscle & Fitness HERS, and on ESPN and Mindbodygreen, among many others. She is also a faculty member at the Center for the Science of Human Potential where she teaches for Transcend, the online course teaching the latest science of positive psychology and self-actualization taught by Scott Barry Kaufman.