Approach Your Health and Fitness with a Sense of Curiosity and Wonder

It’s time to bring something else to your workout regimen, your outlook.

By Chris Garay

Chris Garay, handstand split
Photo courtesy of Fitness on the Run.

In an optical illusion the audience is fooled because they only see what the illusionist wants them to see.

By ensuring that the crowd views the situation from a particular angle, the magician is able to control precisely what type of effect the scenario has on its viewers. “Stand right here, and look over there,” says the man in the big black hat, lining you up perfectly to see the death-defying stunt but none of the wires backstage.

In a similar manner, I want to give you a new perspective from which to view your health and fitness. Gone are the days of approaching exercise as mere caloric expenditure, heart rate elevation, or sweat accumulation. Rather, I want you to develop a sense of curiosity and wonder when thinking about your health and fitness. Let’s discuss how.

Developing a New Perspective

Far too many people head into the gym these days with the notion that they are there simply to pay penance for the extra cookie after lunch. These people are viewing the entire health and fitness arena from a skewed perspective, as if some terrible magic trick had gone wrong.

Consider an alternative, however, in which a genuine sense of curiosity and wonder fuel your desire to challenge yourself, push your boundaries, and exceed your expectations. Whereas the old way thinks, “These push-ups will tone my arms, which is good because they were looking extra flabby after that cupcake last night,” the new methodology says, “Okay last week I did 5 push-ups in a row, but I’m feeling good today so let’s see if I can go for 6!”

Or perhaps your self-talk in the kitchen needs a boost. Instead of thinking, “I should cook some chicken and vegetables, but I’m so tired from work that I’m just going to order pizza again,” this new approach says, “That stir-fry recipe I saw online looked so good! I can’t wait to try it out this evening; I might even invite some friends over too.”

The Benefits of Positivity in Health and Fitness

While some of these examples might sound like playful exaggerations, the truth of the matter is that a positive outlook can have multiple benefits in various aspects of your life. Curiosity can open doors rather than close them, and it can motivate you to try new things. Living each day with a sense of wonder can be energizing, unlike the myriad of daily tasks that tend to be utterly draining.

Furthermore, if you have children, employees, or anyone who looks up to you, consider what kind of example you are setting. Positivity can be contagious! People will notice if, when they say, “I can’t,” you respond with, “You can’t… yet!” And consider how drastic of an impression it makes upon a young person when their parent, teacher, or mentor says, “Let’s walk while we talk rather than sit down.”

So the next time you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk, take a step to the side so that you can view the stage from a different angle. Perhaps then the illusion will become clear, and you will be able to approach your health and fitness with a sense of curiosity and wonder.

Chris Garay is a instructor at Fitness on the Run in Old Town Alexandria.  He holds his Bachelors Degree from the University of Virginia and literally dozens of health and fitness certifications. Chris has dabbled in triathlon, trail running, yoga, CrossFit, Olympic lifting, powerlifting, gymnastics and many other athletics. Along the way, he earned a degree in philosophy and religious studies and is currently pursuing graduate studies in health, movement, and well-being. Come visit Chris at