Yesterday, I went ice skating with my girlfriend and her siblings.
When I first stepped on the ice with my skates, I thought, “Shit, this is a stupid idea for a day out”. I mean, how on earth were we supposed to enjoy something that we couldn't do?
There were pros there who were skating on one leg, skating backwards, and doing fancy twirls and other crazy moves. THOSE guys were enjoying themselves.
We on the other hand, were just trying to survive without falling and breaking our butts and wrists on the ice.
But funny enough, toward the end of our 1 hour session, we were all skating better than when we started.
We all managed to let go of the side rails and skate nearer the middle.
Of the 5 of us, I improved my skating skills the most.
Now, this isn't because I have some superior method of learning. It's not because I'm physically fitter or better than the rest of the group.
The only reason I improved the most was because I had a little bit of inline skating experience some 20 years ago.
I was shocked at how my body managed to remember how to skate after 20 full years of ZERO skating, that's NO skating WHATSOEVER.
And I wasn't even all that good at it 20 years ago, I had only practiced for about a month.
Compare that to the results you get from traditional exercise.
If you do weight training and build muscle for a month, then stop for 20 years, will there be ANY of that muscle left on your frame after 20 years?
If you do bodyweight training and get good at e.g. pull ups, then stop for 20 years, will you be ANY better at doing pull ups 20 years later?
If you do HIIT sprints and get faster at sprints, then stop for 20 years, will you be ANY faster at running after 20 years?
If you do long distance running for 1 month and can do multiple laps around your local park, then stop for 20 years, will ANY of that improvement remain after 20 years?
The answer to those questions is NO, you'll be back to square one, as though you had never trained at all.
This will be true even if you had done weight training for 10 years and become a world class bodybuilder, then stopped for 20 years – nothing of all that muscle you worked so hard to build would remain. Same goes for if you became as fast as Usain Bolt at 100m sprints, or trained hard to become a triathlete.
Sure, SOME benefit will remain after 20 years. For example, if you build greatbig muscles then stop for 20 years, 20 years later you may find it easier to re-build that muscle.
But that's nothing compared to me being able to re-learn how to skate in a single 1 hour session after 20 years of zero skating.
The other thing I noted, is that those pros (and even us newbies later on in the session), were having a hell of a lot of fun. We weren't there for exercise, we were all there for fun, and yet, as a great side-benefit, we all got in a good deal of exercise.
What I'm trying to get at in this email, is a great way to increase your level of physical activity is to take up a fun, skills-based physically engaging activity that you WANT to get good at.
As well as exercise, this will give you two things that traditional exercise can never give you:
- A new skill that stays with you for life
Sure, something like ice skating, no matter how good you are at it or how much you do it, isn't going to get rid of your man boobs by itself, nor will it – by itself – give you that beach-body you've always wanted.
To build a great body, it's far more important to do resistance training and HIIT.
But doing an extra skills-based physically engaging activity will help you to burn extra calories, will make it easier to stay lean, will allow you to enjoy MORE of your favorite foods without piling on the pounds.
When most people try and get more active, they take up long distance running, swimming, or cycling. But those are boring. Sure, some people enjoy them in some meditative way, but most people do these types of training grudgingly, as a necessary evil to help get lean and healthy.
The reason running, swimming, and cycling are boring, is because the movements are too repetitive – you make the same movement again and again. There's no new method or technique to learn.
On the other hand, you've got skills-based activities such as ice skating, inline skating, rollerblading, skateboarding, boxing, martial arts, and countless others. With these skills-based activities, you can put your focus on improving your skills and getting to the next level, and exercise will be a great side-benefit.
I personally would highly recommend skateboarding. I've recently taken this up, and I do it almost every day, just because I want to get better at it. I take my board with me everywhere I go, so I can cruise on my board any time I want.
So, find a skill-based physically engaging activity that YOU enjoy, and let me know how you get on.