You hate me, don’t you?

No, I hate myself.

This was a real life exchange between two women (one may have been me, you can guess which) drenched in sweat, throwing their bodies into mountain climbers in an intense Tabata session, after a weight session that was also no joke.

Tabata is 4 minutes of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, and it burns. It was all body weight and the mountain climbers were only the first of four different exercises. The others were squat jumps, plank jacks and finally, burpees.

The first 40 minutes of the class had been spent alternating deadlifts with planks, clean and presses with wall sits, and sumo deadlifts with flute bridges. The instructors were fantastic at coming around and fixing technique. They were also tough. If something looked too easy, they gave you a weight to hold or suggested an adjustment.

So, yes – at around the 43 minute mark, barely halfway into mountain climbers, where the look on my face was deadly and my grunts were inhuman, my friend started to feel a little guilty, and I was insanely jealous of the instructor’s ripped body.

How the hell did they get so strong? Did they do this every day? Could they put themselves through this with their own force of will without an instructor badgering them on?

My God.

In short, I loved it. I ached for several days afterwards, but not in a bad way.

It was worth it. I love the high I get from trying something new. From pushing my body to some new level.

I didn’t used to. But 2017 is the year for changing my attitude to exercise. I’m not doing it to ‘lose weight’ or even to ‘get fit’. That doesn’t work for me as motivation. If that happens as a side effect, fan-bloody-tastic!

This year, my goals are more specific.

I am exercising regularly to maintain my mental health. If I don’t get outside for a run regularly, or stretch out my spine and fix my alignment, my mind goes on a bender.

I’m exercising because I want to be balanced and flexible. I like feeling stretchy. I like to create space in my body. All these feelings translate outside of the workout. I feel more balanced and resilient in life. I feel like I have the space inside of me to deal with anything.

I’m exercising so that I sleep better and eat better. To grow stronger. To build healthy and sustainable habits. I dream of a future where I am a mother, and I want to be able to pick up my children, play with them and chase after them, teach them how to acknowledge and feel emotion without being overcome by it.

So yes, in the middle of an intense workout, my dear friend thought that I hated her, when really I was hating myself. But it didn’t last. Because by the end of that class, I loved myself and I loved her. I loved what our bodies accomplished. I loved that we committed the time to ourselves and pushed through all the mental shit and uncertainty to be our best selves.

What motivates you to exercise? How do you make it work for you?