3 Steps to Make Exercise Fun

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3 Steps to Make Exercise Fun

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Oh, the gym.

So many people dread the thought of stepping inside it.

They know if they want to lose weight or “get in shape” they need to suffer through some grueling workouts.

We have a real problem in our society today.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70 percent of the population in the United States is overweight or obese.

Not surprisingly, we have a similar problem with how much we exercise.

According to a study conducted by Harris Interactive, two-thirds of Americans who make New Year’s Resolutions choose fitness-oriented goals (Harris Interactive, 2012).

Of those people, 73% quit prior to achieving their goal, citing it’s “too difficult to follow a diet or workout regimen,” “too hard to get back on track once they fall off” and “hard to find time.”

For so many, exercise is difficult to enjoy.

When many people think of exercise, they think it involves getting tired, sweaty and sore.

The thought of these three things can be scary.

So how do you make exercise fun and something you’ll do consistently?

1. Start small

Many people treat exercise as an “all-or-nothing” concept. Partially, it’s because people tend to set unrealistic expectations for themselves.

If people have 30 pounds of fat to lose, they think it needs to happen in the next month. If they don’t, rather than trying something different, they give up.

They’re either working out consistently four or five times per week or not at all.

When you begin a routine, start with something you know you can handle. Ask yourself if you can still do your current regimen one year from now. If you can’t, your plan isn’t sustainable and needs to be adjusted.

Begin by working out two times per week, not six.

2. Pick something you enjoy

If you dislike exercise, it’s probably because you associate it with something negative, like feeling sick to your stomach or sore from the workouts.

If that’s the case, don’t start by doing workouts that involve difficult things like running on the treadmill and doing burpees. If those things aren’t fun, don’t do them. I certainly don’t.

No matter how bad you want the outcome, you’re never going to achieve or sustain that outcome if you don’t enjoy the process.

If you don’t like the workouts you’re doing at the gym, you’re not going to want to do them long-term.

Instead, pick an activity you love.

If you hate running on the treadmill, don’t run on the treadmill. If you love riding your bike, do that instead. If you love team sports, start playing pick-up basketball or ultimate frisbee.

Find friends who want to do things with you and make it a social experience. Plus, you’ll have the added accountability.

I personally think everyone should participate in strength training because having a solid base of strength is important for everything you do in your life, including simple things like doing chores around your house.

But adherence is No. 1, and if you don’t love the thought of lifting weights, start by doing something simple like walking.

Walk around the block with a friend or while listening to your favorite podcast.

Just start somewhere. Then, once walking around the block doesn’t seem so overwhelming, walk around the block twice. Then, walk around the block three times.

The process and daily “grind” of working out should be something you enjoy. Only then will the outcome of losing fat or getting in shape happen. While there may be parts you don’t particularly love, you should be OK with most of it.

As a result of you focusing on the process day-in and day-out, you’ll achieve the outcome (looking and feeling better).

3. “Train” instead of “exercise”

When you think of training, you generally think of athletes going through a planned program to reach their long-term goal of making a certain team or reaching a certain level of athleticism.

When you think of exercising, you think of people doing various exercises to “get their heart rate up” and “get sweaty.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but training sounds a whole lot better.

Training is motivated by a “want,” while exercise is motivated by a “need.” If you think of exercise as an obligation, you’re not going to be able to sustain a routine.

When athletes train, they have a plan and focus on getting better over time.

So start small and build up your workout volume. Not only is gradually building up the amount of work you do in your workouts more sustainable from a lifestyle standpoint, but it’s also better to keep your body healthy and un-injured.

Have a plan, focus on setting personal records and keep a journal to track your progress.

If you’re doing a strength training program, start with something simple. Go to the gym two days per week and focus on just a couple of exercises.

You can start doing back squats, bench presses and deadlifts.

Start by doing three sets of five reps of each exercise two times per week. Begin with just the bar on the squats and bench press and a light weight on deadlifts. Then, the next time you’re in the gym, add five pounds to the bar. Repeat the process.

It’s easy and your body and mind will be able to gradually adjust to the program. You’re focusing on competing with yourself because you’re trying to beat what you did last time.

If you want to start biking, start by riding 0.5 miles twice the first week. Then, bump it up to 0.6 miles two times the following week. You’re focusing on beating your own records, but as a result, you’ll probably feel better about your overall progress.

Now that sounds a lot better than doing endless sets of burpees and hill sprints until you puke.


Harris Interactive. “New Study Finds 73% Of People Who Set Fitness Goals As New Year’s Resolutions Give Them Up – Bodybuilding.com.”Bodybuilding.com. Bodybuilding.com, 28 Dec. 2012. Web. Fat Loss

About Author


Luke’s vision is to help people around the world build muscle, burn fat, get stronger and become the best versions of themselves. He is a strength coach, powerlifter, and former full time journalist living with his wife in the Madison, WI area. Alongside a degree from The University of Wisconsin-Madison's school of journalism, Luke is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

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