We all have a personal philosophy – you know, the way we go about living. This philosophy comes out in the daily movements we run through and in the words we speak. Many of us even have philosophies specific to different aspects of our life, like careers and hobbies. Personally, I’ve got one particular to exercise.

Or at least, I thought I had one. I had a bit of an awakening, for lack of a better word, the other night while working up at a local coffee shop. I realized that the exercise philosophy I’ve had for so many years isn’t what I believe at all. I used to be all about structure and periodization and peaking. I followed my programs strictly, to the last damn detail. I made progress, of course, but my motivation slowly dwindled away.

Earlier this year, after deciding not to compete at the USAPL Collegiate Nationals, I started thinking that what I really needed was a change. A big change. I allowed myself more freedom in my lifting, and I even started mountain biking on a more regular basis. I eventually picked up trail running, which turned out to be my favorite multi-sport discipline. When the end of the school year rolled around and I knew I would be gymless for the summer, I scrapped any semblance of a routine. I converted entirely to bodyweight workouts mixed with bits and pieces of running and cycling. This lasted well into the summer, during which I would decide most of the week’s workouts on the morning of each day. It was so spur of the moment, so spontaneous, so freeing.

Deep down, I’ve been wanting to take a more relaxed approach to exercise for a very long time. Powerlifting prevented me from doing this, as structure is a pre-requisite for the sport. But now that I’m able to do it – do whatever I want – I’m so happy.

Here’s my epiphany: I realized that I’m probably not the only person who has gone through this. I’m not talking about losing motivation to get leaner or something so basic, but rather losing passion for something that has dictated your lifestyle for close to a decade. Seriously, how can that happen?

For me, too much routine finally did it. We all have enough routine in our lives; why spoil something as freeing as exercise by bogging it down with structure and regulations? With that, I’m glad to introduce the Wildcard Approach. It’s not backed by any science. There’s no set structure. It’s open to interpretation. It’s exercise, the way it should be.