How Ultimate Frisbee Saved my Relationship with Exercise

I have this rule about not doing things I don’t enjoy.

This rule originated at the gym. Not only did I hate going, but I also never finished a workout feeling like a health goddess who could conquer the world (a very important part of exercise, in my opinion). For a long time, I conflated exercise with the gym, and I wondered if I was just a person who didn’t enjoy exercising.

Luckily, I liked racquetball and I loved rock climbing. I also, of course, recognized the important health benefits of exercise. So, I stayed persistent, continuing to search for the right thing for me.

Then, three years ago, I started dating an ultimate frisbee player. I liked him a lot. Enough to let him sign me up for Seacoast Ultimate’s mixed learning league.

I was surprised to find I didn’t hate exercise. In fact, I kind of liked it. Here’s how playing ultimate frisbee saved my relationship with exercise:

My face in this picture is priceless.
Photo credit: Paul Stankiewicz, Ultimate Player and Photographer http://www.paulstankiewicz.com/

The Spirit of the Game

Ultimate frisbee is entirely self-officiated, meaning there are no referees on the field. Disc, instead, relies on the players to make calls appropriately and maintain a positive, respectful playing field. According to USA Ultimate “ultimate relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the player.” Competition is encouraged, but “never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors.” That is really rad, right?

Seacoast Ultimate ups the good-natured spirit in other ways, too (as I am sure many other leagues do). Each season is themed (the 2015 season was fairy tales), leaving the captains of each team to create a themed team name (typically with a disc-related pun). At the end of each game, teams write and sing an original cheer to their opponent, often a parody of a well-known pop song. All of this equals huge smiles.

Rocking our fairy wings at the final tournament.
Photo credit: Paul Stankiewicz, Ultimate Player and Photographer http://www.paulstankiewicz.com/

The Final Tournament

Tournament weekend is easily my favorite weekend of the entire year. Players arrive in the morning with snacks, pop-up tents, and music. The spirit, mentioned above, shines even brighter during the final tournament, when it is common for teams to dress up. The tournament is an all-day event, culminating in pizza from La Festa in Dover.

Photo credit: Paul Stankiewicz, Ultimate Player and Photographer http://www.paulstankiewicz.com/

Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere

There is always a game going and you don’t need to know how to play. At any given moment, I can join or initiate a pickup game on any available field, meaning I can play whenever I want. I owe a lot of my love for this sport to the lunch time games that happen at Pease in Portsmouth every weekday.

Furthermore, ultimate puts emphasis on teaching and learning. When I joined three years ago, I had no idea what I was doing (and have some embarrassing stories to tell as a result). The welcoming community of cool people took me in anyway and taught me how to play.

Photo credit: Paul Stankiewicz, Ultimate Player and Photographer http://www.paulstankiewicz.com/

It’s a Workout!

This brings us to the title of this blog post: playing ultimate frisbee saved my relationship with exercise. The intensity is customizable. Depending on the number of points you play and the position you play on the field, frisbee can be an intense workout. And, unlike going to the gym, I feel sore, healthy, and strong after every game (a health goddess, if you will).

Photo credit: Paul Stankiewicz, Ultimate Player and Photographer http://www.paulstankiewicz.com/

If you’re struggling to find the right thing for you, give ultimate a chance! We’ll teach you the rules and overwhelm you a little with massive amounts of new lingo. Regardless, make exercise something you enjoy. If exercising doesn’t make you feel wonderful, try something else. Maybe you’ll find exactly the right thing, too.

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