• Piper Diers

How I learned to love exercise

Piper discusses her journey from disliking athletics to realizing how to approach exercise with self-confidence.


I have never been the most athletic person, and this is something that I can trace throughout my entire life. As a child playing soccer, I hated running, so I decided to be a goalie. I tried joining the swim team in middle school, but I quickly learned that I hated being forced to swim for something other than the enjoyment of it. In high school, I despised the 30-minute run we had to do to pass Phys-Ed, due to the side aches I got every time I attempted to run or jog. Needless to say, I was also not a fan of working out, and hated the idea of jumping on a treadmill for anything other than a brisk walk.

Like most other women, I have struggled with my body image, and have pursued unhealthy options for trying to improve my opinion of my physical appearance. For the longest time, I tried restrictive dieting and viral workouts before giving up. I liked the food I was eating too much, and I hated doing cardio, so it seemed like I’d exhausted all of my options.

In my freshman year of college, I had the opportunity to attend a kickboxing class at my school’s gym. I’d always wanted to try kickboxing, or boxing in general, so I showed up to as many sessions as I could. As woefully out of shape as I was, I loved it. There was something about pounding my frustrations into a punching bag that kept me coming back for more, even when I ended some sessions feeling nauseous from how hard I’d worked. My hard work paid off, because the instructor remarked on my improvement during the final class.

"Now, I don’t judge my body based on how it looks, but on what it can accomplish."

I haven’t been able to take another kickboxing class due to conflicts with classes and the pandemic, however, that didn’t stop me from pursuing different ways to stay active. I was lucky enough to work with a personal trainer this past year, and I learned a variety of non-cardio exercises to get myself into better shape. I also learned to stop worrying about how my physical appearance changed, or the number on the scale, in favor of seeing how much more I could deadlift, or how many more assisted pull ups I could complete.

Working out in order to become stronger has given me a confidence boost that I’ve never really experienced before. Now, I don’t judge my body based on how it looks, but on what it can accomplish. I’ve learned that being unable to run without discomfort doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m out of shape. All it means is that I’ve had to be creative and discover other ways to exercise that suit my body’s abilities.