HOW TO PICK THE BEST WORKOUT FOR YOUR PERSONALITY TYPE
BY MEGAN ANDERSON. Urban Walkabout https://www.urbanwalkabout.com.
Too shy to attend a group class, or too chatty to go jogging alone? Or do you have to be glued to a screen – or chasing Pokémon – to get your cardio fix? What workouts you lean towards can reveal as much about your personality as your attitude towards fitness. (This applies to some people more than others – do we need to remind you about Joanna Rohrback?)
But figuring out what workouts don’t make you want to retreat into your cosy Netflix cave can be a tricky, especially if your relationship with fitness has stagnated somewhere along the way. We speak with two fitness experts to help identify the best solution for you.
Not Getting Fit? You’re Not Alone
Maybe you’ve tried everything under the bouncy fitness sun: from Zumba and CrossFit to the As Seen On TV Ab Rocket. If you’ve found it hard to stick with any of these fitness fads, you’re not alone. Australians spend a wild $8.5 billion a year on fitness, gym memberships and equipment, but only 34 per cent of women and 40 per cent of men claim to exercise daily.
Michelle Segar, author and director of the University of Michigan’s Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Centre, says in the United States the commercialisation of exercise has played a big part in many people’s negative attitudes towards exercise.
All those aspirational ads and billboards of shimmering, taut lady goddesses in their activewear not only link fitness with something unattainable for many, but paint an unrealistic portrait of what fitness is really all about.
“We’ve been taught that exercise is a body sculpting tool, and a bitter pill to take like medicine,” says Segar, who released her award-winning book No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness in 2015. “We’ve been taught to think about exercise in a limiting way that actually turns it into a chore for a lot of people.”
Getting and staying fit has more to do with enjoyment than your ambitions for freaky washboard abs or that Cosmopolitan-prescribed bikini body.
“We need to think about exercise as a way to fuel our souls: to boost our moods, to help us feel happy, to help us connect with our family.”
Prefer the stimulation of social sports or group jogging to keep your fitness levels up? Not only does this show you don’t hate people, it also suggests you have a higher chance of sticking with your exercise routine.
Accredited exercise physiologist Alex Lawrence, from Exercise and Sports Science Australia, says exercising for pleasure – and surrounding yourself with people who support your fitness goals – provides instant positive reinforcement, making it much more likely you’ll keep up the good work.
“[I]f someone is supported and encouraged to exercise by people whose opinions are valued, then that someone is more likely to engage with that behaviour (in this case, exercise) and stick with it for prolonged periods,” says Lawrence.
But Segar says people are still reluctant to see exercise as a social activity. When a group of American women were asked what their most important reason for exercising was, ‘social’ came in as the second-to-last reason (competition was the last).
“[I]t shocked me,” says Segar. “They primarily thought about exercise as a way lose weight and improve their health.”
If keeping up with friends and family is important to you, chances are that picking a social way to exercise could be a great way for you to stay healthy.
The Fast And The Furious
For some people, it’s furious fitness that takes the cake. Whether they’re pushing through an insane step class or winning at CrossFit, some people just seem to thrive when it comes to competition – even if the competition is with themselves.
A very rare few – an estimated three per cent of gym goers – will actually become addicted to fitness. Interestingly, among triathletes this rate increases significantly, with around 20 per cent at risk of exercise addiction.
But while intense workouts suit many people, Segar says enthusiasts should take care that these are not seen as a chore, or simply as a means to an end.
“[R]esearch shows that, in general, when people exercise intensely their pleasure decreases, and their displeasure increases.”
Building A Slow And Steady Connection
Find yourself leaning towards the inner challenges of hot or aerial yoga, Pilates, or just enjoy walking around the block? According to science, this also shows that you care about your mental health.
Yoga has long been linked to increased mental wellbeing and reduced stress and, more recently, has been found to help stroke survivors and soldiers suffering from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
But while mental balance is important for wellbeing, Lawrence points out that no matter how you prefer to work out, the important thing is to ensure that the results are balanced.
“As long as the activity or activities result in broad range of health benefits, that is the most important thing. For example, achieving both improved cardiovascular fitness, as well as improved strength.”
And whatever your personality, experimenting with exercise – and finding a way to relish it – is key. Part of this is assessing your personality, and figuring out what drives you.
“Find an exercise that you enjoy,” says Lawrence. “There is your motivation.”