I love working out. I really do. I’ve been doing it for years. Besides spending time with my family, it’s one of my favourite things to do. And the only reason I love it so much and have managed to make it part of my life is because I make it fun. If it’s not fun, I won’t do it.
Before I list off all the ways to make fitness fun, let me explain why I train. Everyone works out first because it keeps them healthy. We only get one body in this life, so why wouldn’t we want to keep it in top shape? Don’t we all want to live a long and healthy life? That’s obvious. But the biggest piece for me is being happy. It’s about feeling really, really good about yourself and your accomplishments. It’s about challenging yourself, working hard and then succeeding. Training is about being a better person every day. It allows me to be a better person for my family, for my community and for myself. Working out gives this to me on a daily basis. It’s like someone giving you a high five and saying: “Hey, you’re awesome. You can totally do this. Think about all the things you accomplished at the gym this morning. See? You’re strong. Now get back in the game and dominate today!” Now THAT’S a pep talk!
So we can all agree that feeling amazing, healthy and strong is a good thing. Now, let’s talk fun. Here is how I make sure that working out is always fun:
I work out with friends. Working out alone is…well…lonely! Surrounding yourself with a like-minded community will do wonders for your mental state and your accomplishments. I don’t think I would have been able to achieve half of my goals in my athletic life without the push of my training partners.
I do a sport that I love. You have to do something you love, or at least like…a lot. If you hate it, you won’t do it. And if you are starting to dislike what you’re doing, do something different. Change it up, and don’t feel badly about that. Sometimes we go through a funk where we just don’t feel like running or lifting or doing yoga or throwing a frisbee. That’s ok. Maybe tomorrow (or in 6 months) you will.
To expand on my previous point, try something new. The same old, same old, is just that…old! And boring. Add variety. It keeps things interesting. If you love one particular sport, fantastic. I am not promoting program hopping or not giving something a good “college try.” Just keep an open mind to other practices. I’ve been training in one particular method for years now, but I love throwing in something different here and there. It keeps things exciting and challenges me. It makes me realize that I have a training capacity that spans across different sports and modalities. It also helps me spot weaknesses that I need to work on. It’s encouraging and sometimes quite humbling!
Fitness is fun when you’re healthy. And by healthy, I mean injury free. Before you go bananas on the next big fitness trend, check with your physician and make sure you are in fine working order. If you are already neck deep in a particular sport, make sure you are doing your mobility work and get into your local chiropractor here and there. Mobility and maintenance should be like brushing your teeth and going to your dentist. You don’t brush your teeth or go to your dentist when you have a cavity; you do these things to ensure you never get one in the first place! Same deal here. And always listen to your body. The more you listen, the better you will “hear” when it is telling you to slow down, ease off, or similarly, hit the gas!
Make it convenient. If you have to jump through hoops just to get your daily fitness in, you’ll probably hit that snooze button. Find a gym close to home. Put on your sneakers and run right out your front door. If you only have twenty minutes, get down on a soft surface and do some yoga or deep stretching. If you have to travel far to train, you may be less inclined to do it.
Set attainable goals. Shoot for something that is a manageable stretch. Always believe that you can do a little bit more and, at the same time, know what you have in the tank for the day (or week or month). If you are super busy with family and work and volunteer activities, does it make sense to pick up a rigorous training plan to get you running a marathon in six weeks? Or making a 30% increase in your back squat in the same amount of time? No. That’s silly, probably harmful to your body and can be very disappointing. Set goals that make sense for your current life and capacity. And then, when you do go for that super stretch goal, it won’t be such a stretch and you’ll make it look like a walk in the park.
Turn up the tunes. I’m a huge fan of music. Some folks prefer to listen to the world around them or their own breath. But if you feel like you need a good distraction for the extra push, put together a playlist that will get your heart pumping and your feet moving.
Get the gear. For some, it’s about showing off their new duds in the gym. Others could workout in ten-year-old sneakers and couldn’t care less. But if rockin’ a new Lulu top is going to get you pumped, then do it. Feel good about what you’re doing and look good doing it!
So next time you’re feeling like you would rather skip that morning training session, re-read this article. Remember that fitness should first and foremost make you happy. All the health benefits follow when you love what you do. Commit to having fun and your body will thank you every day of your life.