How To Learn To Love Exercise

by Isadora Baum, CHC

Exercise doesn't have to be boring, and with the right movements, classes and mindset, it can be incredibly uplifting and mood-boosting to your day. While not all types of workouts are suited for everyone, by looking for those that make us love working out and bring us great results, we can find a couple of things that promote happiness, health benefits and productivity at work.

As a certified health coach, I work with clients on finding forms of exercise that fit their schedules, tastes and activity levels, and together, we strive to increase motivation, commitment and progression with each session. Once you find a type of workout that complements your needs, it no longer feels like strenuous exercise, but rather a fun and stress-busting activity that brings relaxation and joy to the day. Personally, I look forward to my workouts each day, and especially on days when I have classes (I love kickboxing, kettle bell work, slam ball HIIT exercises, and hip hop), as those are packed with high-energy and a great crowd of similarly-minded friends. Look for these thirteen ways to make exercise more fun and enjoyable, so that you can stay on track towards achieving your goals and reap all the happiness benefits that are possible.

1. Find A Workout Buddy

Working out with a partner, especially one who is at a higher fitness level than you are, is a great way to push yourself each session and stay accountable for your goals. "To make exercise more fun, I always recommend working out with a group or partner," says founder of Tone House in NYC, Alonzo Wilson, over email with Bustle, as it helps pass the time when it's a more social commitment. "It also helps to give yourself a goal. You'll stay motivated and feel accomplished as you get closer to reaching it," he adds.

2. End On A High Note

There are types of exercises that you might not love as much, but know are beneficial for your body and for achievement of a full-body workout. Thus, saving your favorite moves for last can make exercise more enjoyable and as something to still look forward to. "Another tip is to start with the exercise that you like least. I used to hate running, so I would start with that before I lifted any weights," says Wilson.

3. Create A List Of Your Interests

Sometimes jotting down your interests on a sheet of paper can help you stay committed to your fitness goals. "Think in terms of your interest. Write a list or take a mental note of the things you like that interest you and start to do your research," says personal trainer and owner of Body Coach Personal Training in NYC, Chris Aronsen, over email with Bustle. "If you like to walk, look into hiking trails or join a hiking group. If you were always fascinated with sword fighting, take a class or hire someone to teach you," he suggests.

4. Head Outside The Gym

Sometimes being cooped up in a stuffy gym can be tough to handle (especially in the summer heat!), so take your workout outdoors for some fresh air, stimulating scenery and novelty. "Be adventurous and explore," says Aronsen. Plus, experts claim that nature can make our workouts better and more enjoyable, so go for a hike, run, bike ride or do yoga in the park instead of hitting the treadmill.

5. Associate Exercise With Travel

Instead of thinking that exercising while traveling is tough, use it as an opportunity to explore a new area and bring more excitement to a standard workout. Even when at home, think of outdoor runs, walks and rides as a time for exploration. "The key to truly loving exercise is integrating it into activities you love, like travel, for example," says Sarah Clark, Global Brand Director for Topdeck Travel over email with Bustle, who discusses a new a wellness program called MOVE with bucket list runs, which will be unleashed in the U.S. this summer. Plus, there are meditation clips, as well, so you can tune out!

6. Keep A List Of The Benefits

After each session, write down how you are feeling. Creating a tangible list of the benefits, such as better mood, higher energy levels, more confidence and creative thinking can make you remember just how awesome you'll feel post-workout and will help you stay motivated to stick with your workouts. When motivation is sagging, whip out the list to recall all the things you love.

7. Start Small & Work Your Way Up

By starting small, you'll be more excited when you see results and you won't feel as though workouts are too strenuous or overwhelming on your body or to your schedule. Improving in increments can be great for confidence building, and it keeps exercise sessions realistic, time-efficient and accessible, so that you have fewer reasons to quit.

8. Focus On Eating Nutritious Food

Eating unhealthy foods will interfere with your ability to power through training and cardio sessions and will slow the repair and recovery process, leaving your sluggish, sore, and less likely to build and strengthen muscles. By eating 20-30g of protein post-workout, as well as fueling up with complex carbohydrates and protein for adequate endurance, you'll be able to optimize your body's ability to exercise and thrive.

9. Listen To Uplifting Music

Studies say that upbeat music can make workouts seem easier and more fun, as the exciting playlists can aid as a distraction and mood-booster to help you get through your workouts and feel more energized and driven. Create a few exercise playlists of all your favorite jams that make you want to dance and run. With the right headsets and mood, you'll be flying through your workouts with ease.

10. Visualize Yourself Being Awesome

True story: before I started running, I said to a friend, "People who run are awesome. I'm awesome, so I have to learn how to run." While running might not be for everyone (even awesome people!), it worked for me, and now I can run between nine and eleven miles on a given morning a couple days a week. I started off running for five minutes and finding myself out of breath and sore for days! Visualize yourself doing a fitness activity that seems awesome, and make it your mission to get there.

11. Vary Your Workouts

Bringing in variety can make you love each exercise more and more, as it becomes something to look forward that is not a daily, ordinary adventure. If you do the same workout each day, you might become tired of it or find it to be less thrilling; yet, if you spice things up with several workouts, it'll seem like a treat when you know you have kickboxing class on Tuesday each week.

12. Give Yourself A Reward

While having internal validation, as opposed to external, can make for greater long-term commitment and success pertaining to exercise goals, rewarding yourself for sticking with exercises can make you love the process even more. Think of rewards that are realistic for your budget, healthy and confidence-boosting. For instance, treat yourself to a massage or new workout outfit each month, or enjoy a frozen yogurt, popsicle, or smoothie after a session as a fun little treat.

13. Aim For Shorter & Intense Workouts

Sometimes the thought of a long, moderate to low intensity workout can seem daunting, as it's so many minutes spent in a gym or on a machine to worry about. However, by doing shorter and more intense workouts, accompanied by blaring music and a variety of sprints of high-energy exercises, you're more likely to have fun, thrive in the excitement of the movements, and find solace in the fact that it's almost over.

No matter which exercises you choose to do, finding those that fit with your goals, preferences, schedules and budget and that bring your pure joy and mood-boosting benefits can help you stay committed to a program and feel excited to strap up your sneakers and hit the gym or trails each day.

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