I saw this Instagram post the other day, and it made me so happy. Jonathan Hecht, a music supervisor in New York, posted a photo of himself with the bass player for Iron Maiden and shared that the band arranges friendly soccer matches in the cities they visit while they’re touring. Between their shows at Barclays Center in New York, they’d contacted NYFEST to see about putting a game together, and you can tell from the pics that they are serious about play, because it looks like they travel with enough soccer uniforms to outfit a whole team.
There’s something about the idea of a world-famous rock band making time to play soccer that I find so charming. Here are some guys who understand the value of play as exercise! Can you imagine what it feels like to be cooped up on a bus for weeks at a time, broken up mostly by the job of playing an instrument in front of a screaming crowd for a couple of hours? Maybe you’re caught up in imagining the glamor of the rock star life, but I’m imagining what my body feels like after being stuck on a bus all day. Getting outside to run around in the sunshine sounds like the perfect way to loosen up before hitting the stage!
Good news: You don’t need to be a rock band to play for exercise. I feel like there are more options for adults to get their workouts while having fun than ever before. Roller Derby is going strong across the country, adult kickball leagues are still a thing, Disney introduces new costumed runs through their parks all the time, Tony Hawk is still skateboarding, there are fitness versions of hula hoops and jump ropes, and there’s a whole gym in Los Angeles called “Nerdstrong.” (Nerdstrong says: “Sometimes our weekday and most of our weekend workouts are geek-themed – in the past year we’ve kicked-down dungeon doors together, defeated the Death Star, raided ancient temples with Indiana Jones, battled Beholders, fought Gregor Clegane (the Mountain that Rides), completed our Viper Pilot training, joined the Avengers, fought zombies, battled Coily alongside QBert, fought as Viking warriors, and time traveled with a certain Doctor.”)
One of the key ways to be successful in your fitness pursuits is to like them. So what do you like? What kind of physical play do you miss from your childhood? I guarantee that if you go online you’ll find other people who feel the same way. Here are five fun things I found without even trying:
- Vancouver Handstand Meetup: For those looking to learn and practice their handstands.
- Tag! You’re It!: A Vancouver group that meets in a park and plays freeze tag, tunnel tag, fox and squirrel, chuck the chicken, human foosball, and president and bodyguard.
- Funbase: A meetup in Amsterdam where adults come together to play with Nerf guns, ball pits, and host other play parties.
- Capture the Flag Meetups: Adults-only meetups around the world.
- LudoSport Light Saber Combat Academy: It’s international!
The point I’m trying to make is that a lot of people treat fitness like it’s work and couldn’t possibly be play. They show up to their crossfit sessions or body sculpting classes because they want the benefit, but they aren’t bringing their joy. They look forward to having done the workout, but not to doing the workout. They’re there to “take their medicine” without the spoonful of sugar. It doesn’t have to be this way!
If you’re someone who hasn’t been working out because you think you don’t like it, or someone who has been showing up for workouts in duty mode, I challenge you to go lie down in the grass or on the sand and think about your happiest memories of physical play. Water skiing? Wrestling? Lake swimming? Tree climbing? Dodge ball? Sledding? Whatever it was, go online and see what there is in your area for adults that will evoke that fun while helping you break a healthy sweat. And if you need help with figuring it out, let me know! I’m very good at making workouts fun.