By Josh Bowen, Personal Trainer
Today’s media is obsessed with showing us the latest fitness fads to boost ratings and make mucho dinero. We are all inundated with countless “lose 10 pounds in 6 weeks” tag lines everyday of our lives. From P90X to Insanity, to diet pills and the latest fad diet, this country is on fitness overload.
Why? Why do millions of Americans sign up for a gym membership and stop using it after three months? Why are diet book sales at an all-time high but obesity rates continue to climb? I have found a glaring hole in this fitness lexicon—personality.
After 10 years as a personal trainer, I will say the most important lesson I have learned is that an individuals’ personality factors into how successful an exercise program will be.
Today we start. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:
For your workouts to be a success, do you find you need to be continually challenged or have more structure?
This is a great question that will forecast where your fitness journey will take you (at least at first). If challenge is what you need, you must first define what challenges you. Running, lifting, obstacle courses, and cross training can each be challenging on different levels. If your personality drifts, keep it fresh to keep from getting bored. If structure is what you need, switching things up too quickly may overload you. CrossFit or P90X may not be something for you if structure is your goal. Keeping your exercise somewhat predictable may allow for more adherence and consistency. What if you don’t know or you have never exercised? Think about what you prefer in everyday life and apply it to your exercise program.
When you need to reduce stress, do you pick activities that allow you to relax or ones that allow blowing off steam?
Stress is a huge part of our lives these days. Working out for some is stressful; add work, life, and kids to the equation and things get hairy quickly. For some, exercise adds unwanted stress, so to create adherence and long term participation with the possibility of results, I advise people to pick what fits their personality. For example; if blowing off steam is your preference you may pick activities like boxing, weightlifting or cross training. If something more relaxing is your preference yoga, massage or taking a nice stroll may be more suitable for you. Again, this can change based on the day, but I pick my workout based on my personality. People, I have found, are more likely to keep working out doing something that they enjoy versus something they don’t.
Do you enjoy exercise more when it involves a routine that you can adhere to or one that offers a variety?
Variety is said to be the spice of life but not everyone needs/wants variety. Yes, we Americans get bored very quickly, but not everyone is created equal. Think about what your personality would be best suited for and
get the most out of. Would it be a program that you can use to serve as a stair step for accomplishment, or would it be a program that is progressive and constantly changing? Either way, it doesn’t matter. Your adherence and how you feel about the program matters more than if it’s routine or offers variety.
Ninety-seven percent of people will stop an exercise program at some point. The main culprit is the lack of support, but I think not factoring personality into the equation is also a big reason. We must realize, too, that fitness doesn’t need to take place in a gym. Recreational sports, outside fitness, and yoga all create adherence to fitness depending on the needs, wants and personality of the person.