In high school I took up marching band so that I didn't have to take gym class. I was afraid of kickball. The locker room felt awkward. And while epaulets and a feathered hat weren't really my jam, at least I could blend in with the rest of the dorky feathered-hat kids.
From a young age I associated being fit/active with athletics. And I associated sports with being confident and extroverted, neither of which I'd use to describe myself at the time. Team sports naturally lend themselves to folks who, well, like being around other people. And whether its gym class or a sporting event, it's bright, loud and crowded.
Fast forward to my early 20s, when my art director asked me if I wanted to go to the gym with him as part of a New Year's resolution. I've always been into lists, plans and challenges, so I decided to give it a try. One day he had a meeting and couldn't go, so I decided to attend a yoga class (because, of course, there was no way I was going to wander around the machines by myself looking like an idiot). In that yoga class, I took what felt like the first deep breath of my entire life. I realized that I had a body, and it's sole job was not just to carry my head around.
That breath and the realization that my body was as much a part of me as my creativity, curiosity or intelligence, lit me up. But while I was totally stoked, I was also incredibly scared that I was doing everything wrong and would eventually break my neck or something. I asked my yoga instructor for a few private lessons to give me a little confidence. Several sessions in, she recommended I take a yoga teacher training to deepen my understanding of the practice, and the following months were filled with mental, physical and emotional fireworks. My whole person damn near exploded in the best way possible.
I became hooked on learning about and experimenting with the mind/body connection and eventually became so into it that I started to teach it. There's still SO much more to learn, but here are a couple of things that I wish I knew MUCH sooner about being both introverted and active.
4 perks of approaching fitness as an introvert
1. We have excellent body awareness
Over the past few years, I've noticed that my introverted clients have typically become exceptionally in-tune with their bodies. A focus on the internal self is common among introverts. Approaching fitness with that skill sets you up to have excellent body awareness. When you apply your preexisting curiosity of self to movement, magic happens. There's simply less of a learning curve for understanding how you feel in certain positions, what movements excite or scare you, and even knowing which of your muscles are doing what jobs.
2. We love to dive deep
The ability to explore ideas, focus my attention and nerd out has led me to a rich understanding of various movement practices. It's also helped me avoid potential pitfalls with my training. Oh yes, "training" is the key word here. Training, vs. exercising, indicates that there is a goal and a plan. We aren't just going to the gym all willy nilly and hopping on a few machines hoping for some payoff. When we move, there's purpose, dedication, conviction and accountability. We know why we're doing it and approach it intelligently.
3. Craving less stimulation can make us highly efficient
I still hate the gym. I feel really uncomfortable with the intensity of it all. The only thing I want to "power clean" is my kitchen. I get it...I'm a trainer who's scared of the gym, but honestly it's overstimulating and uncomfortable. Because I want to spend as little time there as possible, my workouts tend to be very simple with very little setup. Most of the work is in the "deep dive" preparation, so that the work itself is extremely efficient. Quality over quantity. A little bit of work consistently over a lifetime is all most of us will ever need.
4. We make great workout partners
While the grunting and small talk of a typical gym atmosphere can be a total turnoff, our knack for meaningful and intentional 1-on-1 relationships make us fantastic accountability partners. I hear time and time again that accountability is the #1 need for people who struggle with fitness. Introverts are listeners and observers, and we are intentional about the way we communicate. These skills shine when your friend is struggling to get up for a class or wants a critique on their deadlift.
BONUS - When making new friends, it can be super helpful to have a physical task to complete. Working out with someone instantly gives you something to connect over. It's easy to go beyond talking about the weather when you're choosing your next route at a climbing gym or doing barbell math together.
If you've ever felt out of place at the gym or have wanted a really chill (but still epically badass) workout, come hang with me. If you've been curious, but don't know where to start, start here with the lovely band of introverts our sweet studio is bringing together. You're welcome here. You belong.