Have you ever wished that you were one of those annoying people who loves working out? I’m one of those people, and I want to help you fall in love with fitness.
Start your journey by opening your mind to what it means to be physically active. Fitness is not just about sweaty gyms, treadmills, and insanely fit drill-sergeants. It’s also about connecting with friends, enjoying nature, listening to music, clearing your head, and much, much, more..
There’s more good news. You don’t have to fully reach the somewhat onerous- physical activity recommendations to reap mental and physical health benefits. In fact, those who are sedentary can benefit from just a small amount of movement — even less than ten minutes!.
Ready to get hooked? Follow these three steps:
Step 1: Explore Your Options
Grab a pen. Do it now! Seriously! Your goal is to come up with at least 3 possible activities. The more the better. Keep an open mind. Now the hunt begins. Start by asking yourself what you’ve enjoyed in the past, reaching back to childhood. Then, think of all the activities that looked fun but you never dared to try. Write down the ones that make you smile.
Don’t stop yet. A quick Google search will yield even more creative ways to get moving, such as this list of 26 fun ways to get active, from walking, to dancing, to playing Wii.
With your list in hand, it’s time to decide which ones to try first.
Step 2: Match Your Fitness Style
You can greatly enhance your odds of finding love by honest alignment with who you are – not who you wish you were. First, write down your honest answer to each question. Then, give each activity a star for every style match.
- Physical limitations. Recognize and respect your physical limitations – especially injuries.
- Solo or social? Personally, I love meeting up with friends for a walk, run, or a group classes, but others are happier going for a solo walk, run, hike, swim, or bike ride. If you’re social, tap friends for ideas, and try them together. Pleasure is key!
- Public or private? Don’t force yourself to exercise in public if it make you uncomfortable. There are plenty of ways to get active in private, either at home, or in the outdoors. Now, more than ever, there are tons of at-home options, from YouTube to online streaming.
- Outdoors vs indoors? While getting outdoors offers additional mental health benefits, this isn’t always possible. Beyond the typical indoor options (home, gym, pool, fitness studio), you can get creative. My aunt zooms up and down the aisles in the grocery store, while I’ve been known to walk around malls in a pinch!
- Competitive, cooperative, or solo? If you love competition, then tap into this — try a team sport, or simply compete with yourself. If competition turns you off, then honour this. If you love working cooperatively, try something that capitalizes on this, like rowing.
- Sweat vs strength vs flexibility? Start with whatever you enjoy most and build momentum. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many expectations.
- Water or land? Exercising in the water is a great option for those who suffer from joint pain or otherwise enjoy feeling weightless. I was so grateful for the pool during my pregnancies!
- Practical fit. Your workout needs to fit as seamlessly as possible into your life. Aim to match your workout to your bio-rhythm (morning person, or night owl), your schedule, and your commute. The fewer barriers, the better!
- Quiet vs music. If music moves you, run with this! Try a group class with music — as long as the style suits you. If you prefer quiet, honour this.
Which activities earned the most stars? Once you’ve identified your top 2–5 candidates, it’s time to start trying.
Step 3: Try It & Tweak It
Make a trial schedule. You can either to try one activity per week, planning for a few times a week, or choose a few and alternate over the course of a week. Use these tips to make the most of your trials.
- Be positive, yet realistic. If you assume that you’ll be miserable, you probably will! That said, be prepared for some discomfort — but watch out for pain.
- Feel it. Monitor how you feel while before, during, and after your workouts. Some discomfort is okay, but pain is generally not a good thing – it may mean that you’re causing or aggravating injuries. Do you dread your workout dates, or are you starting to look forward to them?
- Tweak it. The same type of exercise can be a very different experience depending on the context. For example, I love swimming outdoors in the sunshine, but find that indoor swimming can feel like a chore. Similarly, a long distance cycling isn’t my jam, but I’m a total spin class junkie.
- Groove on. Adding tunes to your workout can make a world of difference. The right beats can be incredibly energizing, motivating, and uplifting. Have fun making personalized playlists.
- Be patient, but not too patient. It’s not always love at first sight. Give your new beau a few dates to see if the love grows. If not, move down your list.
Money-smart tip: Many gyms and studios offer a free first session. Take advantage! Check out the app ClassPass that allows you to try a variety of different studios each month.
Step 4: Make It Stick
Even those of us that enjoy working out can let life get in the way. These tips can help you build and keep momentum.
- Schedule it. Set aside dedicated workout times each week. Better yet, sign up for classes in advance, and set activity dates with a friend. Morning workouts are one of the best ways to make sure it happens. For me (not a morning person) the solution has been to get active during my lunch break or my commute.
- Find a buddy. Buddies help stop us from canceling on ourselves — and make our workouts a lot more fun!
- Set goals and measure progress — your way. Once you lock in your new beau, consider tracking one or two metrics that make sense for you. This could be performance, joy, or simply showing up. These goals keep us on track when motivation slumps or when life gets extra hectic.
Your fitness soul-mate is out there, waiting to be discovered. With a solid research investment, ample experimentation, and a dose of patience, you too will be cheerfully telling others about your love affair with exercise!
Have you find your fitness soul-mate? I’d love to hear your story!
I am formally trained in human genetics (PhD) and spent the first decade of my career working in cancer research, drug development, and personalized medicine. I love being active, eating veggies, playing games, and talking nerdy.
My new career chapter is dedicated to empowering others to make well-informed healthy choices that they truly enjoy.
See more of my work, including articles, videos, podcasts, and healthy recipes at: https://FueledbyScience.com