How much fun were you having the last time you exercised?
I was watching the NCAA wrestling championship finals recently (some of you know I have strong family ties to college wrestling, Penn State in particular) and when interviewed all five of the winning PSU wrestlers commented on how much fun they had during their respective matches. I don’t think they meant that only because they had just won national titles. The question they were asked was how their training and coaching differed from that of their opponents. What was the secret? Each one of them, independently said they were coached to have fun. I can assure you that these athletes, at the top of their game have also probably never worked so hard in their lives. But maybe the point is that things don’t have to be one or the other; you can do all the hard work and still have fun. And in order to be successful maybe it is actually required that the hard work be fun. And the crazy thing is, even as a spectator just watching it on TV, through the intensity of it all there was a palpable sense of enjoyment.
Throughout my 17 years of pilates instruction I have experienced a tremendous range in attitudes towards exercise. I have worked with clients that can’t live without it and are even excited when they walk in the door, to those that would much rather be doing something else but show up because they know it’s good for them (or have already paid for it!), and of course all those in between. A lot of folks love they way a good workout makes them feel when it’s over, but don’t necessarily love doing the actual work. Research has shown that enjoyment is a common factor amongst those that maintain a regular exercise routine. A study done on this topic by Benjamin Wienke, a doctoral student at Humboldt University in Berlin, revealed that there are four positive emotions people who do maintain a regular program most often feel: perceived competence, perceived social interaction, novel experiences, and physical exertion. In other words there needs to be a sense of accomplishment, friends, something new, and hard work. Put all those things together and your workout will be fun!