This is “The Lift,” where we break down simple fitness activities you can do anywhere — and not just do them, but do them right. With these helpful tips, you can take control of your exercise process at your pace.
Maybe you identify with one of these cheeky monikers. Or maybe you’re just someone looking for a way to scale your workout schedule back.
Whatever the reason, if your relationship with movement is in transition, this crib sheet is for you.
First, validation: Yes, the transition is hard
Let the record show: Whether you’re a former college athlete transitioning into the after-time, or a former Bootcamp buff who’s reevaluated their priorities, the metamorphosis from mega-mover to micro-mover is (all-caps) TOUGH!
“This experience of a former competitive athlete [or exerciser] transitioning out of that is one of the hardest things to go through and mentally and emotionally process,” says trauma-informed leadership and life coach Sara Turner, who specializes in helping college athletes transition into post-grad life.
The quick and dirty of it is that this shift usually requires a reconceptualization of self, a shaking up of priorities, and a new social circle, to name just a few.
The identity piece can’t be understated. “Hardcore exercisers and competitive athletes wrap their identity up in the fact that they are a hardcore exerciser or competitive athlete,” says Mia Nikolajev, CSCS.
“It’s human nature to identify with the thing that takes up most of our time and thoughts,” she says.
When you ask one of these people to tell you about themselves, they might start by saying, “Well, I play…” or “I compete in…”, notes Turner.
So, when that activity takes a lesser role in everyday life, it can feel like your whole entire identity is up in the air.
Any potential upside of scaling back your workout intensity depends on WHY you’re making that decision.
“If you’re stepping away because you’re injured, you’ll gain something different than if you’re stepping away because the activity has stopped bringing you joy,” says Nikolajev. Makes sense.
One potential benefit is that “you can stop being burdened by only living under one identity,” she notes. “Being known as just one thing can be really hard whether you know yourself as having other identifiers or not.”
Another upside is that you’ll get a brain breather. When you’re SUPER involved with a sport or activity, it doesn’t just take up your time, it takes up mental space.
“Stepping away gives you a real chance to evaluate if the activity was actually something you enjoyed,” Nikolajev says.