What do you associate volleyball with? Volleyball to me seems like nice time on the beach. It’s really weird that I do not really like any kind of sport which involves playing with the ball. However, beach volleyball looks interesting because the activity is outdoors and here in Spain good weather is just a normal thing. Maybe that’s why a lot of people like it. 
I have to admit that I have not tried it here in Spain yet. I think after finding out more about it I could probably consider playing it. I have also heard that many newcomers to Spain make new acquaintances this way because there are often new groups organized and they have a good time on the beach.
I found out more about this activity when I got to know Lisa. A beautiful and fit girl introduced me to her passion of playing volleyball. She was a professional player of this game when she lived in the Netherlands. In Spain, like many, she likes to play this game on the beach. So it made me wonder how much this way of spending free time can improve our body and mood. I am very happy and interested to know more about new activities that other people like. If you (like me) want to know more about this game read the following what Lisa says about it.

As far as I know you like to play volleyball about which we will talk later. You seem to be in a very good shape, perhaps you also like other workouts? Which physical activities do you like the most?

I do a lot of physical activities, not only to stay in shape, but also because I just like being active. I like a lot of sports. I like almost every ball sport and also other sports. The sports I do a lot at the moment are beach volleyball, running, and  workouts at home (like planking and push-ups). Besides these sports I also walk a lot on a day in order to stay fit. Valencia is a beautiful city and I like discovering new places by walking around.

Lisa

Which benefits do you get from your workouts? How does sport affect your life?

Yes, I get a lot of benefits from my sports and workouts. First of all, sports strengthen my body in terms of overall fitness and shape. Doing sports makes me feel fit and I also like the looks of a sporty body.
Second, there is a big social aspect related to team sports. Especially beach volleyball has resulted in a lot of new friends. At the beach you meet a lot of diverse people and playing with everyone is really good for getting to know new people of different nationalities. Every week there are new tourists that come to the beach to play, so you always meet new people. Besides the new players you also have the people that live in Valencia and play more regularly, so you can also make more durable friendships. Not only beach volleyball has social benefits. I also run about two times a week in Turia (the park) and there I sometimes also meet new people.
Third, doing sports makes me feel good about myself, both physically and mentally. I always feel so good and satisfied after doing sports, whether it is running, volleyball, home workout, whatever…

When did you start playing volleyball?

Last year I was in Valencia for five months for my Erasmus period. I arrived in February and left in July. I think I started playing beach volleyball in May when the weather got really good. At first I went with some Erasmus friends who just wanted to play a little. They never played before, so there was not much of a game, but it was still fun. I had experience in playing volleyball, because I played indoor for 7 years from when I was 11 until I was 19. However, I had not played for 3 years. 
While playing at the beach I met some Spanish guys who played good and they saw that I had experience. They asked me if I wanted to join them. It was from that moment on that I started to play more regularly. Once I started playing, I got to know the more regular players and they invited me to play with them and join trainings. Last year I played beach volleyball for two months, because I left in July for the Netherlands. Back in the Netherlands I did not play for one year (due to lack of time and other priorities). This summer I came back to Valencia and immediately when I arrived I started playing beach volleyball again. So now I have been playing again for about 2.5  months.

Lisa is playing beach volleyball

Do you play this game professionally or is it just a way to spend your free time?

For me it is just a way to spend my free time. Especially in the beginning when I started playing beach volleyball I had some troubles with the game, because it is really different from indoor volleyball. I did not consider myself good at it, but I just liked to play for fun. However, lately I notice that I am getting better at it, which motivates me to play more. I also get asked more to join volleyball clubs and play tournaments, so I might consider to start playing more professionally. I am still not sure about this, because it takes a lot of time and I also have other priorities like work and studying Spanish. So far, I just play for fun.

Why do you like this game? What does it give to you?

I like the game so much, because of several reasons. First, it is very fun and quite intensive. You are in your court with two people and you have to move and interact a lot to keep the ball in play. It is a very good training for your body. I think it is for this reason that I like it more than indoor volleyball. Also the social aspect, like I mentioned before, is an important reason for me to play beach volleyball. Not only in terms of meeting people, but also playing with a partner and having interaction with that person. In volleyball it is important to motivate and help each other during the game and doing that gives a very good feeling. 
Moreover, playing beach volleyball in Valencia is really nice, because in Valencia (opposed to many other places) it is really easy to go and play. You just go to the beach and see who is there. Mostly you can join whoever is there. It does not require much organization. It is very flexible, because you can go whenever is good for you. 
Lastly, you are playing outside and the beach is a beautiful place to be. It really makes me happy to play during the beautiful summer nights until it is dark, and afterwards going into the sea for a swim to wash off the sand.

Lisa is playing beach volleyball

Do you think it’s possible to improve body lines with this game?

Yes, definitely. Beach volleyball is an intensive sport, and if you do it regularly, you will definitely notice results in your body. The jumping, attacking, and running through the sand strengthen your muscles. What I noticed is that beach volleyball gives you a muscular body. Especially your legs and your core get quite muscular. I think in general it does not really help you to lose weight. It builds up your muscles. 
I personally like to combine beach volleyball with running, because beach volleyball makes my muscles bigger and better defined, while  running is more a cardio training that keeps of the fat so that the muscles become more visible. But even just playing beach volleyball regularly will improve your bodylines. You can tell by looking at the people who play regularly. Most of them have a really nice and well defined body.

What people should know before starting this game? How to prepare for it?

Preparation is quite important, because volleyball is a sport of injuries. Most injuries occur in the shoulder and in the knees. Therefore it is important to warm up properly and to do prevention exercises. I think a good warm-up contains shoulder exercises in which the scapula is trained to move backwards, because when attacking only the muscles are used that move the scapula to the front. In order to maintain balance and prevent injuries, the antagonists of these muscles need to be trained as well. Also the knees need to be warmed up and trained properly. This could for example be done with squats, lunches, etc…

Lisa with friend

How often per week do you exercise? Is it enough for you?

It depends a little bit on the season. In the months with good weather I exercise almost every day. In winter maybe 2-3 times per week. Every day I do at least a few minutes of core exercises at home (5-10 minutes). These exercises I do to maintain a nice core and to strengthen my back. 
My physiotherapist told me that I have an slightly instable back, and therefore it is better to have the muscles in my back and core well trained to make up for this instability. I run about 1-2 times a week. Distances can vary between 10-25 km. In the colder seasons I run more and also longer distances. I play volleyball about three times per week, but only during  spring/ summer. Also I try to walk a lot. I think I walk on average 7 km per day.

How do you motivate yourself to continue your workouts?

It depends on the kind of workout. For playing volleyball I do not need motivation, because it is fun. For running and the home workouts I motivate myself by looking at the results generated and the feeling I get from doing it. I know I always feel good after doing it. Sometimes I have days that I really do not feel like doing anything, but on those days I just take a smaller goal to achieve. For example: only a few minutes of planking or only 6 km of running instead of 10 km. I try to get myself to start and if I feel that the workout is going well, I keep going longer. 
Mostly the “getting yourself to start” part is the hardest. Once you have started it often goes better than you expected beforehand. If I do not feel like it is going well, I just make sure I achieve what I want to achieve and then quit.

Lisa is playing volleyball in this video which perfectly illustrates the game (sorry for bad quality)

I am interested in your opinion: can an interesting and enjoyable activity help us achieve our fitness goals easier? And why?

Yes, of course! Depending of course on the kind of activity. If the activity is a sport, it helps to achieve fitness goals in a direct way, as long as you are committed to it and eat accordingly. If the activity is not a sport, it can still help if it positively energizes you. This energy can be used to think positively and do sports and eat healthy. 
The most important factor in achieving goals, in my opinion, is being positively energized by doing the activities to reach those goals. It is important to find a way to get positive energy out of working for your goals. Enjoyable activities generate positive energy and therefore they will most probably help in achieving these goals.
Thank you!