What's Your Workout Personality?
Finding a fitness program that suits can help you stick with it
Your best friend loved yoga and swore it changed her life. So you tried a
beginners' class at the gym -- but after 10 minutes of Downward Dog, you found
yourself bored, uncomfortable, and constantly glancing around the room to see
if someone else was doing the poses better than you were.
On to spinning class. You expected a challenge, but you didn't
expect to be struggling for air after 10 minutes (again) and watching the
65-year-old guys on either side of you breeze through the program. Needless to
say, that class wasn't for you either.
For a lot of people, that's how it goes with workout after
workout. They try something new, and give them up in frustration, boredom,
difficulty, or annoyance. Are you doomed to be an exercise dilettante? Not
necessarily. You just need to find activities that suit your "workout
When a new fitness craze comes along, it's easy to be convinced
by all the hype that you should love it, too. You need a yoga mat, a set
of Rollerblades and pads, your own Billy Blanks Tae-Bo library. But before you
commit, and wind up discouraged, ask yourself a few questions that will help
you figure out your own "workout personality" and choose the exercise
program that will keep you motivated.
Owl or Lark?
First, figure out your body clock, says Pamela Peeke, MD,
author of Fight Fat After Forty and an assistant professor of medicine
at the University of Maryland. "If you're an early morning type and like to
kill your exercise off first thing in the morning, then get to bed at a
reasonable hour and get going early. If you're an owl, schedule your workouts
for late afternoon or the evening," she says. "If you're an owl, don't
be doing lark stuff, or vice versa. You won't stick with it." You might
think you hate that yoga class, but maybe you just hate getting up at 5:30 a.m.
to get to the gym in time.
Then, ask yourself some questions about other people. Do they
motivate you, or do they make you nervous? Are you a social animal, or a
solo-flying eagle? "For some people, exercise must to be a social activity.
They need to be able to go somewhere, see their friends, talk, and motivate
each other to achieve a goal," says Melanie Polk, RD, director of nutrition
education at the American Institute for Cancer Research. "Other people want
quiet time for themselves while they exercise." Running, swimming, and
cycling are all great solo activities. And some workouts can be adapted to suit
your sociability. If you'd love to run but hate being out on the road alone,
try signing up for a local road-runners club.