Let’s talk about how to learn to love exercise, even if right now you really hate it. I think I need to start this post by admitting that I am one of “those people” who truly love to exercise. I grew up playing sports, played volleyball through college, and then took up running, road biking, hiking, and triathlons when I was done with volleyball. Now I switch my workouts between quick strength workouts with my virtual team and spin rides on my Peloton. I typically work out 5-6 days a week and I consider a burst of cardio to be a reliable mood booster and the only reliable medicine when I feel a migraine coming on.
But I know not everyone feels this way about exercise. Even if you know how good it can be for your body, your mind, and overall wellness, that doesn’t mean it makes you have heart eyes. I think it can though. It’s possible you just haven’t found the type of exercise that gives you life yet.
This got me thinking about what makes me love exercise and if it can be replicated. I think it can. (But I guess you need to tell me if it truly works). Here’s how to learn to love exercise, in 6 easy steps.
Find a form of exercise that feels fun to you
Ok, don’t roll your eyes, exercise that feels fun really is possible!
I don’t love yoga. I’ve tried very hard (and several times) to love yoga, but I don’t love yoga. And I don’t think it will ever be my exercise of choice. To me yoga is extremely uncomfortable, it makes minutes feel like hours, and if you put me in a hot yoga class I will spent 90% of the class laying down to make sure I don’t pass out.
…a part of me thinks that because I hate it I probably really need it, but let’s save that for another post 🙂
On the other hand, if you put me in a spin class, I am alive! I love spinning. There’s something about the dark room, loud music, hill climbs, sprints, and buckets of sweat the make me feel so fired up. When I’m done spinning I feel like I could tackle the world, or at least the day.
I want everyone to find their spin class — it’s a key to how to learn to love exercise. And that is probably going to take some trial and error and potentially some putting yourself out there. You might try to: go for a walk with no expectation of running, go for a run, subscribe to a fitness app, join a virtual gym, try a group fitness class, join a gym and try an elliptical or a stairmaster, hire a personal training — there are no wrong answers!
Make sure the workout works for your life (or make it)
Before we had Hayes we went to Orange Theory Fitness in Kalamazoo. The workouts were fantastic. We got a great sweat and had a solid community to work through it with us. But once we had Hayes, the logistics and time commitment that came along with OTF — scheduling classes, driving to class, taking an hour long class, then driving home — no longer worked for my schedule and my priorities.
I wanted to keep a high intensity, but save time on logistics and chop my workouts in half to about 20 – 30 minutes.
So we decided to look into buying a Peloton. The payments ended up being cheaper than our monthly gym membership, allowed us to workout at home, and had a variety of class lengths to fit whatever the day had to offer. I also joined a virtual to incorporate low impact strength workouts during pregnancy, postpartum, and throughout motherhood.
Both have been amazing and fit perfectly into this season of my life. What fits into your life may be different, but you have so many options. That’s the beauty of living in 2020 in a wellness enthusiastic world. There are tons of options that can fit your lifestyle, your needs, and your constraints. Sometimes how to learn to love exercise might include a new purchase. To name a few options…
- Workout at home like me!
- Join a gym with childcare so you can workout and your kids can be taken care of
- Workout on your lunch break at a gym close to your house
- Buy a jogger stroller and walk and/or run with your kids along for the ride
- Create a routine with your husband that allows you to go to a group fitness studio like Orange Theory Fitness three days a week after work
There are endless options, find what fits your needs!
Deny it all you want. But having a buddy makes us more likely to lace up our shoes and get. it. done.
There’s probably a study that talks about the benefits of working out with someone, virtually or in-person. And there are definitley correlations in the Atomic Habits book I’m reading right now about community and influence.
Why do you think group fitness studios, Crossfit, and virtual gyms and apps have exploded? In my virtual gym I’m connected to women (some moms, some not) that are reach for their goals just like me. Together we hold each other accountable to grow and not let down. On my Peloton I feel like I know the instructor personally and I feel camaraderie whether I’m taking a class with someone I know or someone across the world that I will likely never cross paths with in person.
With community comes accountability. With accountability comes consistency. With that consistency comes habit.
Whether you join a virtual gym, start a walking group with your neighbors, or follow your college friends on Strava find a way to make your exercise social.
Protect your time to exercise
Whether you’re a parents, a full-time student, or someone with a busy social life, if exercise feels like a burden, it’s going to be hard to love your exercise. I find that carving out time in the morning, before the rest of your day gets going, is most effective, but any time will work.
Whatever time of day it is, carve it out, reserve it, and protect it. If you’re a mom and have little human beings to worry about here are my suggestions:
- Talk with your partner and explain what your plan is, why it’s important to you, and how he can help make it happen (aka can you watch the kiddo(s) during this time)
- Workout before your kids are up (nap time might work too, but it’s harder to reserve and protect)
- Workout with your kiddos, whether you’re walking/running with a jogger stroller or you’re doing an on demand cardio class while they play around you
Remember, it’s ok to miss a day
I know, it’s ironic that I’m talking about giving yourself grace for missing a day of exercise when I just told you to protect it. But, how to learn to love exercise sometimes includes not exercising. I live in the real world just like you do and I know that things will happen that demolish your planned workout time.
I compare it to eating habits. These days I have found peace with food and I am a big fan of the 80/20 rule and intuitive eating principles, but that wasn’t always the case…there’s a related point to this I swear 🙂
In the past if I was restricting my diet to lose weight and I had a cookie, or more likely a spoonful of Nutella, I might say SCREW IT. I blew it. I’m going to eat like crazy for the rest of the day, or week. Now if I have a spoonful of Nutella, I enjoy it, and move on with my day, my week, and my generally healthy nourishing meals.
I think the same concept is true of exercise. If I miss one day of exercise I can either say SCREW IT and skip the rest of the week. Or I can ask myself, “why did I miss that exercise?”, acknowledge that the rest was just what I needed or that I put too much on my plate that day, and start again tomorrow.
It’s ok to miss a day, that will happen! Jump right back to it the next day.
Throw in some exercise affirmations
Immediately after you workout find something you loved about that time. Maybe it was the workout itself, maybe it was one exercise that was new and exciting, maybe you had a small win because you held that plank for 10 seconds longer than you did last week, or maybe it was the feeling after the exercise — tired and totally on top of the world. Whatever it is, I love to take a second after I have spent time bettering myself and let the goodness soak in. Acknowledge that the time I spent on myself felt damn good and was totally worth it.
There you have it! How to learn to love exercise in 6 easy steps
As someone who loves exercise, in part for these six reasons, I am dying to know how this works out for you guys. Please please drop me a comment, an email, or a DM on IG to let me know how it goes for you.
If you’re reading this and thinking “I’ve tried a bunch of things, I wonder what I’m missing?”, or “do I love what I’m doing right now?” — have no fear! I’ve got you covered! Here’s a helpful worksheet for you to figure it out!