How to find a way of exercising that works for your personality
Updated: Jul 18
I reckon there's probably more people who'd like to but can't seem to quite get into an exercise routine than those actually with an established routine. Even if that view isn't quite right, I'm sure there's an awful lot for whom developing a sustainable habit proves elusive.
If you're in that frustrated group you may need to consider the possibility you haven't found a way to exercise that works for your personality...
A close friend of mine is a creative type, a creative genius in my view. As part of the package which makes up who he is, there is spontaneity, an ability to have moments of great immersion and presence. Another characteristic is an unstructured way of being. Together these personality traits can make exercising regularly a real challenge.
It's been interesting to see him fall into a nice routine with Karate and he regularly talks up the benefits. It appears to create a structure for him, which he needs. He also likes the instructor and the philosophical, partly spiritual aspects of his instruction. Despite not being in the physical shape he'd like, my friend is a graceful mover. There is still a natural underlying athleticism and co-ordination which serves him well with the flowing nature of the Kata's (movment patterns). While the low/non-contact sparring gives him a chance to be reactive, spontaneous and engaged.
All of that suits him to a degree which means the purely physical fitness segments of the training, which he finds a grind, are tolerable.
Karate of course has that progression with the belt system, which means over time my friend has had to develop both the skill and fitness to keep moving up the levels. Those essentials for progress for just about anything, particularly increased fitness, are being met as he needs to be consistent and committed to move forward.
In short, he's onto a winner.
Different strokes for different folks! We aren't all like my mate thought (which I'm sure he won't mind me saying is a good thing- although he's got his areas of brilliance, society wouldn't function too well if everyone was that unstructured). On the other side of the coin is someone like my father who is very reliable and habitual. He's more than happy to do the same walk, at about the same time every day. He's going to the gym now and does well with a very repeatable, structured program. My dad doesn't need it to be particularly social either, which is contrary to many of the ladies I've trained who really get energized through training in a small group or with a friend. Although from for me keeping the chit chat under control can be quite a challenge!
Others like me, enjoy a natural or open space for exercise. It could well be for many it's because they feel confined in an indoor work environment and pine for that space.
I think back to some personal training clients I've had who are graphic designers and actors. To get results they need the structure, routine and progression I provide BUT it can't be rigid or hard core- variety and stimulation are a must. Humour and banter helps get them coming back as well.
All pain, no gain. I was amazed to hear an old golfing mate tell me how he dreaded going for his twice weekly sessions at his local personal training studio. It was hard for me to even consider the idea that a client would consistently dread coming to see me for regular sessions.
Sure, you've got to get uncomfortable and we all have our days on which exercise is a chore but dreading it all the time didn't seem very sustainable to me. It didn't suprise me to learn to learn my golfing mate didn't carry on with the studio for much longer.
In his case it was the intensity and discomfort which made it so unenjoyable but for others it could be a multitude of reasons such as the instructor, the environment, the repetition, the loneliness, the cold etc. etc.
Things to consider in order to find out what's likely to work for you
Regardless of what you may have seen in a magazine or on TV about the latest so called best type of exercise, what is sustainable for you in practice is going to be most effective. With that in mind here are a few things to consider;
* How much structure can you cope with and how much do you need? (In truth I think we all need quite a lot) Do you need structure provided for you? Are you able to follow a structured program yourself?
* Do you like music, dance and being able to express yourself physically?
* Are you goal oriented and hence suited to training for a specific and measurable event? Perhaps your competitive nature means you thrive on races and competition....
* Are you social and love the group dynamic?
* Do you thrive in the outdoors? * Do you need a lot of variety? Conversely are you a really routine and habitual person? * How important is having fun to you? Is enjoyment more about meeting challenges? * What has worked for you in the past? And in other areas of life?
You should now be able to get a stronger sense of what's going to be sustainable for you.
With all of that considered though you can't rule out the very real possibility that if you really commit to something which feels foreign and uncomfortable that with perseverance you develop competency and even a degree of mastery. There are so many stories of people doing just that- going from couch potato to endurance racing devotee. Those essentials for success already touched on (consistency and progression) can't be ignored if you want significant change and results.
Ultimately knowing thyself will serve you well in your approach to exercise and life in general. Applying that knowing with wisdom may just be the key to getting you on a path to a sustainable exercise habit.
While acknowledging I can't be all things to all people, I like to think I'm pretty versatile and broadly skilled so perhaps it's worth considering if my services might work for you...
Get in touch to find out if and how I can cater for you.