This may seem like an odd place for me to post since I'm de-plorable about exercising these days. However there was a time (pre-1970 until 2008) when I exercised much, sometimes joyfully, sometimes determinedly, always vigorously.
The occasional mountain hike was really always my favorite exercise, especially when done on Mount Timanogos in Utah. But my second-favorite turned out to be tree-climbing. Which can be hard to get away with socially at times. Climbing trees is rather frowned upon by your average neighbor, as people are alarmed by, and often offended as well by, the sight of some guy doing something really out of the ordinary. At the peak of one of my coolest/tallest tree climbs (on a tree in a public park), I was actually ordered to come down and stop climbing trees by a police officer (who'd been summoned by a neighbor adjacent to the park). So, I had to learn how to pick out isolated trees where other humans wouldn't spy me, or climb at night.
Which is a shame because there's no work-out like a tree climb, and it dispenses continuous rewards as one climbs. The challenge of picking this or that branch, the demand for flexibility and creativity, and the increasingly dramatic view of the receding Earth, all add up to a rush and a thorough workout for many diverse muscle groups. It's a bit like climbing through a vertical maze, and the maze seems to reinvent itself on the way back down.
Another great workout is the "sword stick" games of pretend my brothers and friends and used to play as kids. Fun, creative, and yet full of tons of running and "play combat" which again exercised quite a variety of muscles (not in the least the cardiovascular muscles). The disadvantage was the occasional accidental hit with a stick that really bruised someone. We actually devised rules/penalties about such accidents (and trusted that they were accidents) to serve as incentives for people to practice due caution during these games (which typically lasted for several exciting hours).
I've never been a fan of gyms and gym equipment, with the sole exception of a good pull-up bar. Instead of going to the gym, an official workout of mine (from about 1990 thru about 2008) would consist of push-ups, sit-ups, a length of running/walking (no hard-core goals there; just run as long as you feel you can, walk long enough that you feel ready to run again, and rinse and repeat) to the destination of some playground where I could do pull-ups -- and some tree-climbing for good measure. It usually worked pretty well, and for quite a few years I really had a chest and arms I could show off to the ladies (if I'd been so inclined). Not like Arnold Schwarzenegger by any means; I wouldn't want that much muscle on myself. But I could measure my progress and felt good about it. I was leaner back then too which I personally liked.
But circumstances, psychologically-exaggerated aging, depression, lassitude, laziness, and the lure of the computer with its tasty poly forums, eventually sucked my will and body away from physical exercise, to engage in much verbal, mental, and emotional exercise instead. I know it's neither well-rounded nor good for me in that sense, but it's about all I can muster and maybe in some ways I flatter myself that what I do these days is important and helpful to at least some folks here and there.
But in nostalgic reverie, I remember "the rush" we here call "the pleasure of the burn" with satisfying clarity. Nothing quite like, just for one example, seeing how long one can stand to run before lapsing into a walk, and then while walking feeling how alive one's whole self is, lungs heaving and heart pounding away. Inspires one to start running again just a little sooner than one would have in the past, and run just a bit longer than one would have in the past before one's next rest.
And that's the story of how I always used to like to exercise. For those of you who do still have the cojones to persist in the "perfecting of the body," I hope my "little" post here will give you an extra boost of inspiration.
Love means never having to say, "Put down that meat cleaver!"