Exercise gets a bad rap. It’s no fun.  It makes you sore.  It’s too much work.  It’s boring.  Let’s be honest; exercise can be all of those things if you choose to do something that’s no fun, too much work and boring.  So, now is the time to make a shift in the way you perceive exercise, finally learn how to love it and make it a fun part of your day.

A Matter of Personality

If you’re a true introvert (meaning you get energy from spending time alone), working out at home or on your own at the gym is probably a good thing for you.  On the other hand, true extroverts love being around other people—their view is the more the merrier.  But most people share qualities of both personalities.  So how does this pertain to exercise?

First, answer the following questions about how you enjoy other social activities:

  • Do you prefer to go to dinner alone or with friends?
  • Would you rather go to a movie by yourself or with a friend?
  • Would you rather go to Happy Hour after work with co-workers or by yourself?
  • Do you prefer to vacation on your own or with family and/or friends?

These may sound like silly questions to ask, but how you answer them is critical to long-term success.  You must develop a plan that works for you—one that you enjoy, look forward to, and feel good really about when you finish.

If you’re like most people, you go to the gym by yourself.  You go when it’s convenient to your schedule.  The average gym member pops into the club, jumps on a treadmill or an elliptical, watches a tv show while doing 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and then leaves.  How fun is that?

If that sounds like you, why not change your routine to one of the following scenarios:

  • Meet your best friend at the park, go for a 45 minute walk and finish the great conversation at your favorite coffee shop.
  • Schedule a “date” at the gym with your significant other.  Getting sweaty together is a great way to encourage healthy behaviors for each other.  Plus, seeing each other’s bodies at “work” can be an aphrodisiac!
  • Schedule a weekly Saturday or Sunday morning workout with a small group of your friends.  You can do something different each week—a hike through the woods, a strength workout at the gym or a bike ride around the neighborhood.  It doesn’t matter what you choose to do, but I promise you that it will be something you’ll look forward to each weekend.

Make New Friends and Stay Fit

Another great way to make exercise more fun is to take a group exercise class.  According to the International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association’s Retention Report, the number one reason why people stay a member of a health club is that they connected with other members. The perfect location where member-to-member relationships are encouraged, cultivated and socially accepted is the group exercise studio!

Group exercise classes focus on the experience of the class instead of the complexity of the moves. After a class, participants have improved confidence, a sense of accomplishment and feel connected to their peers.

So if you haven’t been enjoying your weekly workouts, it’s time to ditch the old routine and make exercise an important social component of your week.

Have fun and get fit with a smile,

Previously published in Philly Health Watch.