How to gain more joy from your workouts
We are almost at the end of the 1st quarter of the year! How are you doing with the fitness goals you set in January? If you haven’t been able to stay with your goals, it might not be your fault. Over the years I have realized just like everything in life, we have to pay attention to what we like instead of just doing what we think we should do. For example, I always wanted to be a runner. I always envied runners because it seemed like the perfect workout. It’s convenient, no props needed, and most people who run consistently are able to maintain an ideal body weight and good health. I tried running over and over. I hated it every time. I told myself “stick with it, I’ll get used to it and soon enjoy the ‘runner’s high’ “ I heard so many talk about. Every time I ran I seemed to only have ‘runner’s hate’. I hated the way I felt. I hated the way I ran. Most importantly I never looked forward to it. I stuck with it a while to give my body a chance to adjust and I still just did not like it. Finally I had a great idea. Don’t run. There are many other options to maintain physical and cardiovascular health.
I did an analysis and realized it's best to choose workouts based on what I like. I came up with the following 6 question personal preference checklist to determine if an exercise would be an activity I will enjoy and stick with it.
Is it group led or an individual activity?
What type of people are involved?
What type of activity is it?
What type of music is played?
Where is the location of the activity?
What days of the week and time of day is the activity available?
Group led or individual activity
I prefer to workout in groups. I like group weight lifting classes, group dance classes and now cycling. I am able to push myself longer and harder when others are around and especially when there is an energetic instructor. I used to buy workout DVDs because of the convenience of working out at home whenever I wanted. I bought Jillian Michaels, but didn’t stick with it, so then I bought Shaun T because I thought he would be better. I realized, the instructors and DVDs were fine, it was me! I just don’t like working out to DVDs. I had to stop trying to force myself to like something that wasn’t working for me. This also goes for those of you who prefer to work out alone. Don’t be swayed by all the social media posts of those working out together, if it’s just not your cup of tea.
When it comes to working out, I’m energized by people. Fun and high energy people. Even if I’m not working out in a group class, it can be fun to workout with one or two other people. Having people around will keep me motivated. If you are a person who likes to work out alone, this criteria obviously will not be applicable to you.
Type of Activity
This one is basic and the one most people probably already pay attention to, but I still need to mention it. The caution here is to be aware if your workout desires change. For a while I was doing an instructor led Insanity class. I liked it for a while, but then grew tired of all the jumping (plyometric type moves). Also be aware of body limitations you may have and choose wisely.
Don’t underestimate the power of good music. When you are trying to push through to the end of a hard workout, a good song can help carry you through. I recall participating in a Boot-camp class. The workout itself was awesome as far as variety and intensity, but when I needed to dig deep to keep going they played YMCA! Really?
Location of the activity
No matter how good a class, instructor or music is, it just won’t work long term if the location of the activity is more than 15 minutes away (maybe 20 if you really like the class / instructor, and are highly motivated). I once found a great little gym that had great variety of classes, fun people and great music, but it was 20 minutes away if there was no traffic! I kept trying to force it because I liked it so much but again, I had to accept reality, it just won’t work for me except for special occasions or sometimes on the weekend. Keep this in mind when you choose a workout, if it’s too far, you will find yourself constantly saying you don’t have time to exercise when you just don’t have time to go to a place so far. One more thing to consider, sometimes it might be convenient to choose a fitness activity location close to your place of business. If you are responsible for taking kids to afterschool activities, you might want to find an activity close to the kid’s activity so you may work out while your kids are at a sports practice.
Days of week and time of day of the activity is available
This is so crucial when it comes to sticking with a workout routine. We all have lots going on in our lives so we need options. I prefer to work out in the evenings so I need to find places that offer classes after 5pm and preferably 7 or 8pm to allow time to shuttle my kids to their various activities. If you are a person who likes to work out in the morning, be sure to look for offerings at 5am or however early you need to work out, shower and drive to work or get your kids to school.
Take time for you
These points shared may not be new to you, but will hopefully serve as a reminder to pay attention to your life and what brings you joy. I ask that you continue to search out the activities that fit you. There are so many options available, you just have to look for them. Also, be willing to get out of your comfort zone try something new.
I recall when I was first introduced to Zumba. I hated it! I couldn’t figure out the moves and I didn’t sweat much. It just wasn’t that much fun. A few months later I attended a Zumba fundraiser and gained new perspective. Each Zumba class is somewhat different based on the teacher. I also had to give myself some time to learn some of the basic moves. I now love Zumba, with the right teacher! I also had the same experience with indoor cycling. I had tried cycling over and over through the years and thought it was boring. I recently gave it another try at the suggestion of a friend who said this particular cycling class and place was different. I gave it a try and it's now an activity that's on my workout list! The class is super fun. The instructor is fun and energetic, they play fun and inspiring gospel music with theater sized screens to show videos, it's close to my house, and class is offered at the right time and days of the week.
No matter how much you like an activity you also still have to prioritize yourself and your health. Working out does take effort and commitment but you are worth it. If you are new to working out you may feel muscle pain as your body gets used to moving. This is normal, stick with it. Your body will adapt. You can do it!
What new exercises will you try?
Gain more joy in your workout by matching your fitness activity to your preference:
Exercise style (alone or group activity)
Type of activity
Type of people involved in the activity (low key or energetic)
Type of music
Location of the activity (within a 15 minute drive from your starting location)
Days of week and time of day of activity available