Most people want to be physically fit. It’s one of life’s intrinsic joys. If there was a fitness pill—something that builds strength, flexibility, stamina, body awareness and lots of other good stuff—everyone would take it. It would be the most blockbuster kind of drugs. But, no surprise, there is no such pill. Can’t be. The only path to fitness is to get fit. And what I want to do here is share one indispensable and deceptively simple fitness secret. That’s right, there is a secret to fitness everyone needs to know.
But first, before the big reveal, let’s note that not everybody agrees fitness is its own reward. They think when it comes to exercise this entire intrinsic value thing is a bunch of nonsense. OK. They need to know that fitness is also associated with lots of good stuff: creativity, more youthful skin, longevity, emotional comfort, eyesight protection, plus lots more. The “Well Blog” at the NY Times regularly reports on the steady stream of research documenting fitness benefits.
Also, being fit makes people more productive and successful, as evidenced by the “healthy company” movement. There are workplace programs designed to incentivize fitness that do not just lower healthcare costs; they support employee fitness. For example, JetBlue Airways reportedly offers a $400 bonus to those who complete an Ironman triathlon.
Of course, there are lots of reasons not to try. Many people feel fitness is impossible, or not worth the trouble. There is even evidence that some people inherent a propensity to enjoy exercise. And that means others do not, making it harder for them to enjoy all that fitness provides. For some exercise seems to conflict with pleasures and habits one absolutely can’t live without, so why bother. Others rebel against the onslaught of products and programs, often pitched by perky people or athletic gods, that inspire loathing and envy as much as a desire to start just doing it.
But once someone knows the about to be revealed secret all those obstacles begin to drift away. And here it is, the secret: start where you are and show up. That’s right, showing up is the secret.
For some, showing up means walking around the block a few times each week. Someone else may get a trainer, or start with a Pilates teacher. Others are hopping on bikes or jumping in the water for a swim. Or maybe taking dance classes or going for hikes. Whatever you need so you start showing up is a good thing.
It doesn’t matter where you start. Just start where you are, and show up. Show up so fitness becomes routine, just like routine personal hygiene. If you habitually show up at the sink to brush your teeth then so too can you show up for whatever happens to be your current fitness activity. And we know from tons of studies on habit formation that showing up today makes it easier to show up tomorrow, even with the occasional ache or pain or sore muscle. Once you start, momentum builds.
There you have it. Show up. If you are already showing up then bravo, keep it coming, And if not, well, tomorrow is another day, another opportunity to show up for the joys and benefits of fitness.
Originally published on Forbes