It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun.
Whatever you don’t like doing is probably what you need to do.
Statements like these drive me crazy because they are not true. Before you leave an angry comment about how important it is to challenge your physical and mental capacity to develop resilience and overcome training obstacles, hear me out.
The Perpetual Quest for More
These fitness clichés encourage us to shame ourselves into doing things we think we should do. When we adapt our lives to programs, diets, and routines, we force ourselves into a one-size-fits-all mold that may feel tight and uncomfortable around our waist.
For someone with an all-or-nothing personality, this kind of dedication is often misguided stubbornness that hinders the ability to admit that maybe his or her style is a little less CHANEL and a little more grunge. The polish of a plan may look flattering on the runway, but when you try it on for size, it may make you want to stay in the dressing room.
Let me be clear: I don’t advocate quitting a program simply because one hard workout leaves you feeling slightly defeated. But if you find that over time, your motivation slowly wanes or you feel like you’ve lost your training mojo, step back and take a serious moment to consider, “Am I having any fun?”
The Training Program Trojan Horse
The allure of a training program is enough to light a fire from the weakest flame. The promise of PRs is the apple in our barbell Garden of Eden. We hold the plan in the highest regard, as if it holds the magic key to unlock our performance potential. We structure our lives around reps, sets, percentages, and macronutrients. It’s like we’re kids on Christmas Eve, eagerly waiting to unwrap the gifts Santa has left under the tree.
But after a while, the hype of the program often fades and that shiny apple loses a bit of its luster. Sometime between calculating percentages and rest intervals, you realize your training has morphed into something you think you should do instead of something that you want to do, and you’re no longer having any fun.
When you find yourself wanting to deviate from your plan, how do you hit the reset button without feeling like a complete failure?
Movement Is More Than Exercise
Strip away the program, the gear, the diet, and the expectations. Force yourself to take an extended rest period and allow yourself to just be. A week or two off from your typical routine won’t kill you. If the thought of skipping a few workouts makes you freak out, that’s exactly why you need to take a break.
Use this time to figure out what makes you happy on both a physical and emotional level. Think about the last time you were active without the sole purpose of exercise. Maybe you were on a hike with friends or shaking your ass on the dance floor. What was it about these activities that made you happy? Reflect on how the environment and the social interactions influenced your level of fun.
When you take stock in identifying these positive emotional connections, you can find ways to support those feelings through movement.
Perhaps the missing piece in your training puzzle is a day off from the gym to take a hip-hop class at a local dance studio to step out of your comfort zone. Maybe you need to hit the trail on your mountain bike to rekindle your love of adventure, or play on monkey bars at a local park to feel carefree and youthful. Sometimes all you need is one small shift to reroute your attitude and return to your programming with a refreshing appreciation for fun.
Find Your Fun
So before you jump head first into a popular training program, figure out what the healthiest version of yourself looks like and make that your training goal. And I’m not talking about body composition. Prioritize your health and your happiness.
When you find what makes you happy, do it. Movement should make you feel good, and when fun is the focus, it doesn’t really matter what you do. Choose a path, follow it without guilt, and don’t make excuses. Life is too short for fitness to be so serious.