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Get Your Move On!

May 9, 2021 by Coach Cynthia Luna

Confessions of an Exercise-Challenged Health & Wellness Coach

I have a confession to make… I am a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC), and I hate to exercise!

Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand and appreciate the value and benefits of exercise. And, as a health and wellness coach, it would be irresponsible of me not to affirm this fact. But just because I know exercise does a body good, it does not mean that I am in raptures over it.

For me, exercise (as is popularly conceptualized in western culture) is drudgery; a necessary evil. So it probably would not surprise you to hear that I take even less of a shine to gyms. No shade to those who enjoy them; they’re just not my personal cup of tea.

I can remember even as far back as my youth regarding organized exercise and team sports as things to be avoided at all costs. And, no doubt, my PE teachers were beyond exasperated with me for trying every excuse under the sun to get out of gym class. Yeah, I was that kid.

But here’s the funny thing… though I hated exercise, I loved movement. I was always on the move thanks to my childhood best friend, a boy named John who was about 2 years my senior. With John as my partner in crime, I became quite the tomboy, spending the majority of my childhood chasing after him. We climbed trees, walked elevated train tracks, and biked and/or skate-boarded down steep hills. And don’t get me started on our epic adventures. We were “free-range” children before that even became a thing. In retrospect, I marvel at coming out of my youth relatively unscathed.

Truth be told, my movement didn’t stop when the sun went down and the street lights came on. Due to a sleep related rhythmic movement disorder, I would bang my head or kick my legs to settle into sleep at night. And, because of this non-stop momentum, I was always a fit child. However, as we grow older, opportunities for tree climbing present less. No longer is fitness a naturally occurring byproduct of youthful enthusiasm and curiosity; it requires more from you. It requires intention and commitment. It requires work. So, I got to work!

Kicking and Screaming

From my mid-twenties until my late 30s I tried Step classes (which I thoroughly enjoyed); circuit training (which I despised); and both Yoga and Pilates (which resulted in sustained injuries to my wrists and shoulders). I even took Salsa and Flamenco lessons regularly. The majority of the non-dance classes took place in a gym setting; a space that made me feel self-conscious and uncomfortable at best; ridiculous and judged at worst.

So I stopped going to the gym. And, before I knew it, it was 10 years later, I had given birth to a child, and I had settled into a Body Mass Index (BMI) that placed me in the Overweight category according to the CDC’s BMI Calculator For Adults Over 20.

By my 40s, it was clear that I needed to get to work again, but this time, I had to adopt a sustainable activity; one that I enjoyed for enjoyment’s sake. For me, any activity that fit the bill would be one that:

  • did not limit me to certain locations or seasons to participate
  • did not rely on equipment/or gear for its execution
  • could be done alone, preferably outside in nature
  • could be completed on my own schedule and at my own pace
  • would be gentle on my joints
  • could be done as a life-long habit

For me, that activity turned out to be walking and I am very comfortable and satisfied with my choice. I currently walk 14k to 16k steps a day on average. I also complete short High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and/or strength training activity about 2 to 3 days a week to round out my routine. This works well for maintenance purposes.

My Previous Week’s Fitbit Stats

The Choice is Yours

However, this post is not about the benefits of walking. If you are interested, I will include a few links at the bottom of this post for your perusal. But, for those of you who are in the “don’t fancy exercise” camp like me, this post is about choice. It’s about finding the right-fit exercise for you. It’s about choosing well from the start to set you up with a sustainable lifetime habit.

“So how do I go about this?” you might be asking.

I suggest you start by asking yourself 5 questions which I have included below. They are adapted from, The 8 Colors of Fitness, by Suzanne Brue, a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) expert and a personal colleague of mine. In her book, Suzanne studies the question, “What keeps people in an exercise program year after year?” Her research led her to suggest that your personality may have something to do with it. Suzanne identifies 8 color-coded fitness preferences for the 16 MBTI types. And these types are further sorted on two divides: Job/Play Divide and Concrete/Abstract Divide. 

8 Colors of Fitness Color Wheel, Suzanne Brue

The Job/Play divide speaks to how you view exercise, i.e., a work versus play perspective. And, in a nutshell, if you view exercise as a job, exercise is best when it is planned, and predictable. It does not have to be fun; it only needs to get the job done. For those who view exercise as play, exercise is best when it is spontaneous with plenty of opportunity to have fun; if it becomes routine or tedious, boredom ensues.

The Concrete/Abstract divide speaks to how you experience the activity. For example, are you grounded in its concrete, physical, sensory aspects? Or are you focused on abstract things such as your surroundings or thoughts in your head? Suzanne suggests an awareness of your preferences may be useful in informing your selection of a “right-fit” fitness routine. One that you may be able to enjoy year after year.

Five Questions to Ask When Deciding on an Exercise Routine

  1. Why am I exercising? As with all worthy endeavors, it helps to have a strong “Why?” A strong motivator adds meaning and purpose to our actions. Having a clear understanding about your motivations will inform not only what you do, but also for how long you’ll do it, and at what intensity.
  2. How well do I tolerate routines? Job exercises may be highly organized and very comfortable with the predictable. Schedules, routines, repetitive movements that they can master may be appealing to them. Any joy or satisfaction they take from exercise is secondary to achieving the goal established when the exercise routine began. They may tolerate other individuals in their environment as long as they can remain undistracted. On the other hand, Play exercises may prefer an element of fun from the get-go. So instead of pursuing structured or highly routinized exercise scenarios such as gym classes, they may prefer spontaneous activities. They may even engage in what I call “exercise disguised as fun.” You may find Play exercisers opting for challenges, competitions, and anything that brings groups of individuals together. Their motto is “The more the merrier!”
  3. Does my mind travel or stay put while exercising? If you are a Concrete exerciser, you are thoroughly grounded in the actual exercise activity. You are fully present and aware of all the physical sensations and sensory inputs both within your body and in the supporting environment. You are noticing everything, pains and aches in your joints, the sound of your footfall on the exercise machine, whether the room is too hot or too cold. All of your senses are active and engaged. Abstract exercisers, by comparison, pay less attention to the physical in favor of the metaphysical. They are in their heads, reflecting on thoughts both lofty and low. They can become so absorbed with their thoughts that they lose awareness of their surroundings. They can become easily transported by distractions such as music playing in the background, conversations with the fascinating person on the elliptical machine next to them, or the laundry list they are generating in their head.
  4. What settings/environments inspire me most while exercising? While the prior 3 questions addressed the “Why?”, “How?”, and “What?” of your preferred exercise routine, this question addresses the “Where?  Are you more comfortable outdoors in nature? Do you prefer to be in a gym or Yoga studio?  Do you prefer the creature comforts of home?
  5. Does having company make the experience more or less enjoyable? Finally, our last question is about the “Who?” of your routine – i.e., with whom do you prefer to exercise? Are you a joiner, preferring to be in a class, on a team, or in some similar group situation? Do you need to work out with one or two other accountability partners to keep you honest? Do you find the focus and solitude of working out alone satisfying?
What kind of exerciser are you? To find out more, take the free survey.
And, if you are ready to explore a new exercise routine and feel you might benefit from having professional support, do not hesitate to contact me.