There are many; articles, blogs, and research in general about exercise/fitness written and seen everyday. 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. But there remains one problem…we are STILL the fattest country on planet earth. Why? Why do millions of Americans sign up for a gym membership and stop using it after three months? Why are diet books sales at an all time high but yet obesity rates continue to climb? I have found a glaring hole in this fitness lexicon; personality.
Personality? I thought everyone was suppose to do three sets of 15 on the bench press, eat the same food over and over and hop on the treadmill for 30 minutes? Where the hell does my personality come into play?
Having been a trainer 10 years, I will say the most important lesson I have learned is; the client’s personality, goals and abilities dictate how I train them not what I want. Personality traits have been used for years in other industries to pick workers in the right career position or match single up for date. Why do we not include this when participating in fitness?
Today we start. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:
1. 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, we first must define what challenges you. Running, lifting, obstacle courses, cross training can be challenging on different levels, if your personality drifts that what, keep it fresh to keep from getting bored. If structure is what you need, switching things up to 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.
2. When you need to reduce stress, do you pick activities that allow you to relax or ones that allow to blow 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 to their personality. For example; if blowing off steam is my preference I 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 on the day but I pick my workout based upon my personality. People, I have found, are more likely to keep working out doing something that they enjoy versus something they don’t.
3. 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 programing that you could get use to to serve as a stair step for accomplishment or would it be a program that was progressive and constantly changing? Either way, does not matter. Your adherence and how you feel about the program matters more than if its routine or offers variety.
97% of people will stop an exercise program at some point. The main culprit is the lack of support but I also think not factoring in personality into the program is also a big reason is well. We must also realize that fitness doesn’t need to take place in a gym. Recreational sports, outside fitness, yoga all create adherence to fitness if that fits the needs, wants and personality of the person. Something to definitely take in and under consideration when designing a program.
Yours in fitness,