Using a Camera as Workout Equipment: Discovering a Way to Find Joy in Exercising


name written in c oncrete

My name written in concrete in 1995

I know I am not alone when it comes to the lack of exercise.    Once we have a job and children to raise, our time and energy are limited.   We are constantly bombarded with messages about the need to get up and move.     There are plenty of activities that look like fun, but let’s face it:  if we’re not physically fit in the first place,  we’re not going to be physically able to take part is most of them.

California poppy before it's open

The poppy can't bloom until the barriers are moved!


So that leaves some of us in a dilemma:  do we spend our precious, limited time off  working out in a gym (that we dislike),  or walking a prescribed number of steps on a treadmill?  Do we find a walking partner and get up at the bust of dawn to fulfill our obligation to move?  Or do we pour ourselves another cup of coffee and turn on the Cooking Channel?   How about a glass of wine and a few minutes of Facebook or  Pinterest?   I can see you nodding your heads.

Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise flower near the avocado trees

I have tried committing to exercise programs that I dislike, knowing that they are good for me and knowing that I won’t keep them up.   We already  do so much in our lives  out of necessity or obligation, even if they do not bring us joy.   In the few spare hours that we have left,  JOY is the thing we need.   Creating joy (for me) involves discovering something new,  feeling good about myself and what I’m accomplishing,  feeling energized and stimulated,  and having something worthwhile to show for the time I have spent.   The challenge is to find activities for physical exercise  that combine those prerequisites with movement.

view of hillsides in avocado grove

Hiking to find this view is worth the effort!

I think I have finally found something that is better than a trainer,  better than a class and better than a treadmill.   A Camera!  I recently purchased a DSLR with a hefty cross-body strap.  I have had  point-and-shoot cameras that work just fine,  but they never motivated me to get out and hike.    With the encouragement of  Fuji MamaAllergen-Free Baker and my son Daniel,   as well as  the help  of Nancy at  Nelson Photo Supplies in San Diego,    I finally invested in a Canon T3i as an entry-level DSLR.    I had no idea that the investment in the camera would also pay me dividends in the form of exercise and motivation!


A hummingbird takes a breather!

I actually look forward to changing into tee shirt and walking pants (gym clothes?), lacing up my walking shoes,  strapping on my trusty camera, and striking out for parts unknown.  The long hikes around the ranch that used to seem like a penance when done just for exercise have become exciting treasure hunts now that I have my camera and way to  share the new discoveries!  Sometimes I post the photos on Facebook, and sometimes I plan stories to go with the photos to post here on


After a rain, the snails come out ...and so do I!

After an invigorating hike up and down hills to get the perfect photo of wildflowers,  snail trails,  squirrel holes,  songbirds,  puffy clouds with trees and mountains… I deserve the time to write  at my desk!  I actually look forward to going out again,  and scheme to carve out more time for “exercise” in my day.    I’m eager to get out and  see how the trees are changing from day to day,  keep track of the seasonal wildflowers  and notice  evidence of wildlife too.

animal track

What animal do you think made this? A possum?

Now that I have the new camera,  the prospect of spending a day hiking, walking a beach or exploring a park are much more attractive than they once were.   I don’t want to sit in the house when there are so many exciting things to photograph!   Who knew that the best piece of exercise equipment could be a camera?  I’m glad I found out!  And I don’t even mind getting up at dawn … sometimes!

long shadow early in the morning

Did you know you can look very tall and skinny when the sun first is coming up?





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