Perhaps the largest factor to success on a fitness program is the consistency with which it is performed. Even less than optimal programs can produce results when stuck to regularly over a long period of time. So, if consistency is the key to progress, what is the key to consistency? What factor makes regular exercise sustainable over the long term? In short, the secret sauce is fun. Fun can mean different things to different people. Perhaps to you it means exciting, or engaging, or rewarding. All of those things can and should be a part of your training program if you intend to make exercise a regular part of your life. What specifically, though, creates those feelings in a training program?
Exciting. Working out at a 24-hour fitness facility in awkward silence while trying to avoid eye contact with all of the other patrons isn’t exciting. Neither is working out in a class where the people are cliquey and judgemental. If people wanted to feel anxious and stressed, they would take an extra shift at work. On the other hand, working out with a group that is welcoming and warm along with the guidance of a coach that cares is exciting. People comprise group fitness, and those people can be a fundamental part of the support group that keeps individuals on track to their health and fitness goals.
Engaging. Crafting a plan on your own can be complicated, even overwhelming. It’s no wonder, then, that many, when starting out, will find one workout they like at the time, or perhaps a weekly routine, and repeat it over and over again. While this is as good a starting point as any, it often leads to mental fatigue and lack of interest. We, as people, naturally crave variation and progression and an effective program strikes the balance between the two. In order to develop proficiency at a task, a person needs to practice it regularly. On the other hand, variation keeps us engaged over the long term. It’s fun to learn new things! That’s why we like to use simple strength progressions along with varied conditioning workouts to keep things fresh.
Rewarding. Any fitness program will cease to be exciting or engaging if progress isn’t made. Does the person feel better? Are they getting stronger? Is their endurance increasing? Are their health markers showing improvement? An individual’s goals may differ from another’s but, ultimately, every person has long term goals whether they are consciously aware of them or not, and they can tell when they aren’t progressing towards them. In order for a program to be rewarding, it needs to produce results.
There are many different ways to make a fitness program fun. It ultimately depends on the culture of the gym and the balance between interesting and effective programming. People need to feel welcome, learn new things, and make progress. If they are, then chances are that they are also having fun!