I have done extensive surveys on this and can say with authority that most people who don’t exercise consider the whole activity a chore and an unenjoyable experience. Contrast that with the “fitness fanatics” who can’t imagine life without exercise, and you’ve got a funny situation. Trust me, there is a happy middle ground.
Get a Friend To Join You in the Gym To Make It Fun
This is a major game changer when it comes to consistency in the gym. Partner up.
Find someone who will team up with you. You don’t even have to have the same goals or body types. This is just a mutual commitment to attending the gym and putting in the time. In fact, it may be even better if you don’t have the same goals. I can think of more than a few friends who didn’t stick with it when they were both doing the same exercises. But I can think of a LOT of friends who stuck with it when they had very different workouts. I don’t know why it is, but it happens.
Just make sure that you are there for your reasons and that you are reaching to attain your goals, not somebody else’s goals.
Get Exercise Clothes That You Want To Wear
This sounds silly, but it makes sense. I hate putting on clothes that don’t fit or that I feel stupid wearing. Get exercise clothing that fits and that you want to wear. Think of it as part of your gear for this specific activity. Carpenters have their clothing and tools, so do welders, so do businessmen, so do teachers. Each activity has its own set of clothing and gear.
Going to the gym is no different. Get the proper shoes, pants/shorts, and a proper top. Make sure you can move in it. If you squat down and the seat of your pants feels like it is going to rip – you will never want to squat. So, try them on and make sure that they are good before you get going.
Make Exercise a Habit
We are creatures of habit. If you make exercise part of your daily routine, you’ll actually be upset when you don’t get moving.
Our bodies wake up, fall asleep, release hormones, and other things on a regular schedule. This is regulated by the circadian rhythm, also referred to as your biological clock.
As you start to put exercise in your schedule at a certain time of day, then your body will respond by readying itself for work at that time every day. You’ll experience less resistance – both physically and mentally – when it is time to get some exercise. That is how you hack your biological clock for an exercise boost.
You can think of it like building momentum. Once you’re in the exercise habit, it’s not easily broken. The benefits of exercise are so real to you because you’re experiencing them in real time. Benefits such as improved sleep, more energy, better balance, coordination, and SO many others. You can’t ever have a complete list of the benefits of exercise.
But the point is the same: get started and make it a habit. Once this habit is formed, your body starts to back you up and help you out. That’s how you hack your own biological clock to get an exercise boost.
Get a Personal Trainer to Change Things Up
Some trainers can really inject life into a workout. It doesn’t have to be specifically due to the fancy exercises. It is just a matter of personality.
Try several personal trainers before you decide on one. It has to be someone you’re willing to meet with on a day-to-day basis and really trust. You’ll be sweating, exhausted, nearly fall over, you’ll fail and possibly cry in front of this person. If you feel like you’re their aunt or uncle, then walk away.
When I was young, I was still able to maintain professionalism to the point where age was never a question. Actually, when I was 19 years old, many of my clients thought I was at least 25 years old based purely on my professionalism and demeanor.
So, find someone who is professional and certified and that you get along with. The gym will go from a lonely one-person activity to a total fun fest. I know this one for a fact.
Watch TV While Exercising
Many people have had success in just putting a treadmill in their living room or propping up their phone in front of them in the gym. Throw on your favorite episode and get to walking.
If you burn 400 calories in 30 minutes, and you do that four days per week for a year, you’ve burned over 80,000 calories. That is the equivalent to 23 pounds of fat.
Not to mention the benefits to your heart and the rest of your body.
Achieve Your Exercise Goals
There is no better motivation than achieving your goals. This is, hands down, the most motivating out of everything. Saying to yourself, “I want .” and then getting it.
People will put up with all sorts of discomfort in the short term so that they can reach their goal. Nothing motivates like results.
Setting goals is somewhat of an art and is best done with someone intimately familiar with exercise. As a personal trainer, I’ve helped hundreds of people hone in on realistic goals. If you set the goal too far out, you may burnout before you get there.
I find that it is best to have a major goal, and then several milestones that are totally reachable leading up to that goal. For example, if the person’s overall goal is to lose 20 pounds, I’d have milestones set at 5, 10 and 15 pounds of weight loss. I would graph it out throughout the amount of time that it should take so that the person knows when they are supposed to hit those milestones.
Make it visual. Make it real to you and others that you’re making progress. You’ll start to enjoy exercise.
Find Something You Like That Just Happens To Be Exercise
When I was in high school, I loved going to the mountains. I grew up in a place that was flat and then we moved to a mountainous area and I was awestruck. The hills called me. I loved hiking and was nonstop going up and down and across the mountains until I had them mapped out perfectly in my head.
And I accidentally got really fit.
What is it that you like doing? What are your interests?
Here are a few activities (exercises) that you may enjoy doing that just, kind of, happen to be exercise:
- Shopping (the walking part, not on your phone)
- Riding a bicycle
- Going for a walk in your area
- Working in a shop or outside with your hands
- Recreational sports:
- ultimate Frisbee
- Playing catch with your dog
- Cleaning (some of us are neat freaks)
- And there are tons of video games and arcade games that get you moving
Some people just find that doing yoga in the backyard is very pleasurable in and of itself.
Ditch the Phone While You Are Exercising
There are few occasions when our phones leave our reach. I suggest that you try this as an experiment: Get a really hard work out in front of you and ditch your phone for an hour.
Make sure that the people who matter to you can call gym reception to get a hold of you. Or just tell them that it’ll have to wait until after (because people used to survive just fine without cellular phones).
Then, when you are at the gym, it is like a total disconnection from the rest of the world. This time is your time and no one else’s to interrupt. If you combine that with a good group of people to exercise with, then you’ve got a recipe for daily happiness.
This is not some theory. I have tried this on many of my clients as well as myself. It works. It is liberating and makes you want to keep going back to your workouts.
Compete With Others To Make Exercise Enjoyable
I used to do a LOT of rowing on the Concept 2 rower when I was on a specific endurance training exercise program.
One thing that really kept me going was NOT BEING LAST. I wasn’t necessarily a great rower, but I was amazing at hating being the last person.
When you are exercising with a purpose, it is no longer exercise. Your attention is not on your muscles or your heart rate or “How long do I want to do this to feel good about myself?” Your attention is 100% on your performance. Technique is important and breathing is important because it could hurt your performance. That is all that it is about.
Then you accidentally end up being one of the fittest people in the room. I never did it because I just loved the movement of rowing. It was more of a “I like hanging out and playing around with other people” kind of thing.
Find an activity that you and others can compete in. Running a 5K is a great start.
Change Your Exercise Environment
Maybe you don’t like going to the same old gym. Go to a different one. Take a different class.
If you are generally okay with running, but don’t like running in your neighborhood, have a friend or an Uber drop you off 10 miles away. You’ll have no choice but to run home.
If you like doing yoga, find different parks around the city or different studios to go to.
Drive some place you’ve never been and that you can go for a hike or a long walk and see what it is like there.
Get out of the house and do something different! That is major life advice for most Americans. It is too easy to just stay inside all day and be entertained by the TV or the computer.
If you regularly go to the gym, then completely change your routine up by taking a kickboxing class or a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. My friend just told me the other day that he’s not so focused on getting fit, but more focused on not getting choked out.
Either way, it is a new experience. You’ll meet new people, see new places and experience something unique. Isn’t that part of what makes life fun?
Have Someone Else Design Your Exercise Program
If you don’t already have a personal fitness trainer, get someone to design your exercise program for you so that you don’t know what you’ll be doing until you are at the gym.
This element of surprise helps for many reasons.
For one, you will be tricked into training your weaknesses. Yes, many a man hath skipped leg day but came in all bright eyed and bushy tailed on chest day. It’s just the way of life. If you don’t know, then you can’t weasel out.
Does Music Boost Enjoyment of Exercise?
I’ve got to admit that I’m very biased on this point.
Exercise motivation should come from within you, not from another source. While music can give you a motivational boost, it’s not what you run on. Think of it like NOS in the Fast and Furious movies. It works to boost performance and give more power, but only under certain conditions. The cars still run on old-fashioned gasoline.
Many people nowadays are relying on music to “get them through” the workout. So much attention is spent on their phones picking “just the right song” that they then switch up right after. It’s way too much noise. JUST EXERCISE.
As a drill, I suggest that you do some sort of exercise without music or the phone around. Just get in tune with what is going on with your body. Pay attention to your environment, to your breathing, and to your performance.
We’ve all gotten into habits of having our mind somewhere else. Try bringing it back every once in a while.
Listen to Audiobooks
Now, to seemingly directly contradict myself, I’m going to recommend listening to audiobooks under speciific circumstances.
If you’re in a busy gym and have a lot of hustle and bustle around you, it may not be a good idea to throw one on. But it may help tremendously if you’re going for a long walk, run, bike, or row. The need to know what is happening next in the story keeps you carrying on.
It also helps get you back exercising so you can find out the next saga.
There’s a right time and a wrong time for it, but I encourage you to experiment.