Bodies In Motion: Examples From the Wisest of the Wise, by Kevin McGrath

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*In honor of the holiday feasting that many of us may have done, we bring you this article on bringing fun to fitness!

I recently returned home from a coaching clinic where I spent six hours sitting and listening to experts describe techniques and movements to improve body mechanics to increase speed and performance levels, thereby increasing the success of your team’s program.  I have been to over two-hundred-and-fifty of these types of clinics in my twenty-six years of coaching at the high school level, as every couple of years new advances in technology have demonstrated better methods to help the coach teach his players more precisely.  

I’ve learned from strength and nutrition experts.  Professional coaches, college coaches and high school coaches have given me countless notebooks and hand-outs about every angle of the game that one could imagine.  I’ve read hundreds of books and articles about our bodies in motion and how to become a better athlete.

I am now in my so-called middle aged years of life on this planet. Staying fit has become important to me, to help me be around for the next half of my stay here.  When I go to a fitness club to work out I see people busting their butts who are on an intense training regimen.  I know quite a few folks who work hard doing routines that they simply do not enjoy, that were developed by personal trainers or  fitness instructors to bring about specific results.

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I share my block with an elementary school, where young kids go out for recess every day and play begins as soon as they step outside the door.  They are running, jumping, rolling and tumbling with constant motion being the norm.  The excitement fills the air and is palpable. 

Most of my life has been shared with a dog.  Dogs are so much like children except that they never grow out of childhood.  They frolic and play until they become too old to move.  What strikes me most about both children and dogs is that they know how to have fun because they do whatever comes naturally and whatever feels right for them. 

A recent study on why high school athletes drop out of sports states that it is no longer fun for them. 

As a society, over time we have become so advanced, trying to be the best, that oftentimes we forget that maybe we should have fun along the way.  I try to make my personal workouts fit this maxim that I learned from the wisest of the wise: Do what feels good and that which you enjoy.  For me, that includes hiking, swimming, playing basketball, lifting some weights and playing with the dog.  Sometimes yoga and tennis are included in the mix.  And while I’m not about to win the Triathlon, I am able to keep pace with the high school kids in a rousing game of five-on-five full court basketball.

What is it that makes you smile with enthusiastic excitement and also keeps you fit?

Kevin McGrath has been playing most of his life and is always trying to learn from his gurus – dogs and kids.

Excerpted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Spring 2008. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.