An old friend of mine Facebooked me recently. As we were catching up, he told me he finally forced himself to start a regular fitness regime... not because he likes it, but because he has to. Actually his words were, "I hate it." Well, at least he's doing it. Mind you, this guy is no coach potato and I would even say he's pretty athletic. This made me think -- why do some people really hate to exercise so much? Then it dawned on me. He never fell in love with it. Just like falling love with another person, the planets must align, the timing must be right, and then when all things have fallen into place, love will bloom! You can create the right environment to nurture the love of fitness and exercise.
How, you ask? Here are my suggestions:
1) Get in the mood. For people who have been cooped up all day, nothing is better than getting outside for long walk, bike ride or jog. If you prefer to avoid the elements, go straight to the gym. Then, set the mood. Turn on your iPod, get on the treadmill or cardio machine of choice and zone out. Have a great playlist or podcast ready to go to that you're psyched to listen to. Or, let someone else set the mood and woo you instead. Join a fitness class where you know your friends are, or better yet, with an instructor who really gets to you and moves you (great tunes help!). Boot camps, circuit workouts, dance classes, power yoga, Spinning -- all these classes can put you in the mood especially when you have the right instructor.
2) Don't be pressed for time. It's hard to get in the mood when you're in a rush, or enjoy what you're doing when you feel the clock ticking. When you're trying to fall in love, you need time to bond, just like any relationship. Pick days to exercise where you have the least amount of appointments or time sensitive issues to take care of. Spend a good amount of time just warming up and stretching... a good 10 minutes or longer. Personally, I like to warm up for 20+ minutes. Then leave time to stretch at the end. This is the time you can bask in the accomplishment and appreciate the work you have done.
3) Set the atmosphere. Indulge yourself with a membership to a chic, trendy gym or facility. A place with a good vibe is even more important than convenience when we're talking about love. Would you rather date someone that doesn't float your boat just because they live on your way home from work or, someone a few towns away who gives you butterflies?
4) Timing is key. Some people prefer love-making in the morning, some at the end of the day and others prefer afternoon delight. Pick the time of day you have the most motivation. Maybe you like to watch the sun rise. Throw on your walking or running shoes and take a brisk walk or jog at your favorite park, beach path or neighborhood while you watch the beauty of the morning sky. Take your sneakers to work, and walk or jog during your lunch break to de-stress and re-energize. Or, get your cardio on a treadmill, stair climber or elliptical while watching your favorite prime time TV show.
5) You don't bring me flowers anymore. As in all relationships, the honeymoon phase will eventually fade. Keeping the flame alive in your marriage or with your significant other takes a little effort. So does keeping the spark alive in your workout routine. It may take months, or years, but sure as death and taxes, you will get bored someday with your routine. Be prepared with a list of other activities you're interested in trying. Learning a new sport, signing up for an event like a 5 or 10 K, try new classes at a fitness studio or gym. Get a new fitness toy or gadget like a heart rate monitor to take your routine to the next level or hire a trainer to re-vamp your old routine.
In the end it all comes down to having positive experiences when you're embarking on new fitness routine. When it feels good, or at least fun, you will start to love it!