You might have seen my article in Sunday Life titled ‘Fitness brings many benefits fun is not one of them’. For those you who didn’t you can read it by clicking here: WOW, did it cause a reaction or WHAT!!! Fellow personal trainers, journalists, bloggers, even the lifestyle website Mamamia weighed in on the debate with this letter to me.
One thing is for sure, people feel VERY, VERY strongly that fitness should be fun! With this in mind, I decided to write this response, so my stance on the subject isn’t misunderstood.
And while i’m sorry to have to be the ‘fun police,’ however, I can assure you that while exercise is fun, fitness certainly isn’t.
My reasoning for this isn’t because I don’t want people to have a good time. Far from it! It’s due to the fact that exercise and fitness are two VERY different things.
Fitness and i know each other well. We’ve spent a lot of time together. We’ve hung out all over the world, with all kinds of different people, at all different stages. And while fitness is a lot of things, to a lot of people, fun, generally isn’t one of them.
When I say fitness, I’m talking about taking your heart rate to an uncomfortable level, breaking down muscle tissue and pushing your boundaries. So expecting people to have fun as they push themselves and their heart rate well beyond a comfortable pain threshold is setting them up for failure. This is why I am so big on educating people that if you’re not finding exercise fun, it isn’t a reason to give it the flick! Particularly in the early stages!
There are a lot of people out there peddling the fact that fitness should be fun and if it isn’t, you aren’t doing it right. The truth is, even if you LOVE exercise, or a particular activity like running, dancing or yoga, there is a big difference between a ‘fun’ activity and what it takes to achieve a fitness goal.
It’s also setting people up to rely on a feeling to measure their physical success, which in my opinion, isn’t a great idea. Why? Because, when they don’t feel it’s ‘fun’, they’ll think they’ve failed and give up!
No one likes failing and so no one will get fit if they set the expectation that ‘not finding it fun’ means they’re doing it the wrong way (when funnily enough, it’s completely normal)!
In reality, it’s the same for athletes at a premium level and absolute beginners. At some level fitness can be fun, but it is more about the reward you get from achieving something rather than the exercise itself.
So, if you want to get fit, be fair with yourself and your expectations.
Fitness takes repetition. Delayed gratification. Pain. Motivation. And pushing yourself when you desperately want to give up…
Is the reward for your physical efforts fun? Yes. Is enjoying the payoffs of your fit physique enjoyable? Absolutely. Is the point in your training session where your muscles are screaming at you and you’re headed for the vomit zone fun? No.
But don’t worry; I can assure you that if you put in the hard work, you’ll be feeling too fabulous to care.