How to actually enjoy exercise

Posted on Posted in Health + Wellness


It doesn’t have to be a punishment

In fact, you could even . . . wait for it . . . enjoy working out.

Problem is, a lot of the time we overcomplicate it, feeling like we have to, shouldneed to do certain types of exercise, even if it’s something we have absolutely no interest in.

For me, it’s running. For ages I thought the best way to keep fit was to start hitting the road for kilometres on end every day. I’d lace up with zero enthusiasm and clock-watch the entire time, shuffling along, wishing a freak asteroid would suddenly land on me just to make it stop.

Then I realised, ‘Hang on, I frickin’ hate running.’So I stopped doing it. Pretty simple stuff, really. And you know what? I still got fit anyway – doing stuff I enjoy.

Is there something you’re forcing yourself to do, even though you’d rather be hit be an asteroid? No wonder you keep hitting the snooze button.

I talked about this topic – how to actually enjoy exercise – on ABC Radio this week and I wanted to share my tried-and-tested tips with you.

1. Do something you actually like

This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people I meet who start running every day or begin lifting weights because they think it’s what they should be doing to get fit and lose fat.

But if the idea of pounding the pavement or being inside a gym fills you with dread, how often do you think you’ll do it?

There are literally thousands of things you can be doing as exercise – and it’s not actually that difficult to find something that suits you.

Pretty much everywhere these days offers dirt-cheap trial periods, which means you can try out a whole range of different things without much financial commitment. (If you’re a mega tightarse you could probably get through most of the year doing this . . . but then you’d have to leave town.) The bonus is that while you’re experimenting you’re keeping active and getting outside your comfort zone by giving different stuff a go.

Some of us need to be tricked into exercise and that’s understandable. Think outside the box and find something you love that just happens to be active. Salsa dancing, rock climbing, aerial yoga – whatevs. Just make sure you find it fun and sustainable.

2. Grab yo’self a workout buddy

Look, I get it. Finding the motivation to train can be really hard sometimes. I’m a personal trainer and even I need mates to kick my arse into gear. In fact, most of us do.

The last thing we feel like doing after training clients all day is training ourselves, so we do it together. This has personally been one of the biggest keys for me. Knowing people are waiting for me at the same time, in the same place each week . . . not even my own death would get me out of those sessions. It’d be Weekend at Bernie’s Fitness First-style.

Not only do you have people to keep you accountable, it’s also fun and social. The chat we throw around (sometimes) even takes my mind off the obscene amount of weights I’m trying to lift.

If you’re looking for something new to do or people to work out with, I recommend checking out There are so many interest groups – not just exercise – all around the world. It’s also a cool way to meet new people.

3. Set some meaningful goals

I guarantee you that 80 per cent of us want to lose fat and tone up. But what does that actually look like to you? What is the end result? How will you know when you’re there?

Maybe it’s being a size 10. Maybe it’s being 16 per cent body fat and fitting into your old jeans. Or it could be doing the Tough Mudder.

Take the time to paint a really clear picture in your head of what it is for you – then ask yourself why you want it. How will it improve your life? How is not being like that affecting your life now?

Having this big, juicy goal super-clear in your mind is what will get you out of bed at 6am or sweating at 6pm after a long day at work when you’d rather be sitting on the couch.

My goal? It’s a one-armed handstand. And that’s what I picture when I’m rehabbing my dodgy shoulder with 2kg dumbbells and hating life.

4. Be realistic about what you can do

We all lead busy lives and often exercise can feel like one more thing we have to check off the never-ever-ending to-do list.

So if you say you’re going to train six days a week but realistically you can only do three, then you’re automatically setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. You’ll then feel guilty, throw in the towel and hate exercise. And that would suck.

Be realistic about how many times a week you can train and at what time of the day. If you’re not a morning person, don’t make yourself do it at 5am. We all know that overly chipper morning person who bounces out of bed before sunrise. But if that ain’t you, then don’t try to force it. Perhaps you get cranking more easily in your lunchbreak, or in the evening? We’re all different, so do whatever works for you.

Exercise can be tough at the best of times, so just make things as easy as possible on yourself (actually, just live your whole life like that). Start small. You can always build from there.

When you grow slowly it’s more sustainable. It becomes a lifestyle change, rather than some cheap and nasty quick fix that’s just gonna break your heart.

Peace, I’m out.