Does Exercise Need To Be Fun - Part 2
Tom Forrest Senior Trainer
In part one, we took an in depth look at why one might argue there is no need for exercise to be fun (check it out here: http://www.exclusive-fitness.net/does-exercise-need-to-be-fun-part-1/). However, as with most arguments, there will be a whole host of people who disagree. Below then, we look at the reasons why exercise is something that should be enjoyed, and not simply something you must force yourself to do.
There is one obvious, major piece of logic that suggests exercise should be fun. If a person finds something fun, the chance of them doing it again is far higher than if they didn’t. It’s a simple yet effective point. People do things that they enjoy doing. Adhering to an exercise program can be tough even when people do get some sense of enjoyment from it. People live busy lives, and exercise can be one of the first things that gets sacrificed from a loaded schedule. For some people then, it will be almost impossible to adhere to if they have no fun at all. In cases like this, some sort of fun is essential in exercise, or they simply won’t do it. And half the battle of an exercise program – getting to the gym!
Putting fun aside, you can look at the principles of how to force the body to adapt and get “better” (overload, muscle failure etc), and you can look at any scientific method you want in doing so. There are countless arguments for which is more effective (that’s a whole different article in itself). What these methods don’t account for, however, is the aspect of enjoyment. All these “effective” methods are tough, and they are not necessarily an effective way to start a fitness journey, despite what the basic science says. If you take a first time gym goer, you aren’t going to throw them into GVT and expect them to enjoy it. Fun can be an effective foot in the door of the fitness world, so to speak. Do I believe body pump and dance fitness classes to be an ultra effective way of getting fit? Nope. But would I encourage somebody who doesn’t enjoy any other aspect of the gym to try these classes instead of doing nothing? Absolutely. It’s better than nothing, and can get people to see exercise in a different light. The tougher stuff can come at a later date – get yourself moving first and have as much fun as you can whilst doing it.
Ultimately, the point of exercise is to better yourself – to get fitter, to get healthier, to feel better. There are ways to do this without sacrificing your happiness. You should not feel miserable due to the fact that you are exercising. It defeats the point.
Exercise needs to encourage participation. It needs to be inviting to people who don’t do it, and fun enough to keep people doing it once they start. For somebody who avoids training, they need to see some sort of enjoyment to even consider starting an exercise programme. In this case, of course exercise needs to be fun.
This is not to say exercise won’t be tough. This is far from the case. Fun is simply a way of masking the discomfort and hiding the pain. It’s a distraction from the unpleasant side of the exercise, purely as your focus tends to switch to the fact you are enjoying it, rather than the fact that what you are doing may in fact be tough and tiresome.
Even if you were to go down the ultra-tough, no fun route, there is a problem. You have to ask yourself– is this even sustainable? Some would say no. I mentioned in part one of this series that I don’t enjoy exercise at all in the build up to a competition. This is true – I don’t. However, I do not train like I have a competition all year round. I couldn’t sustain the level that’s needed – my body simply wouldn’t cope. So what do I do when I don’t have a competition within the next 8 or so weeks? I have some fun. I do exercises I wouldn’t usually do, without sacrificing some of the tougher stuff that will keep me slowly ticking over and improving. It’s hard for anyone to train hard non-stop, 52 weeks a year. Those off, or lower intensity periods, are important. It’s important not just for the body, but for the mind as well. Some people will of course try to go down the “hardcore” route and have no fun at all. For some athletes though - and I’m talking at the highest level of any sport - a little fun is essential to actually maximise performance.
Another point that needs consideration is that, in general, the average gym goer is not going to have high level goals. They aren’t competing for anything, and they aren’t looking to be a world champion. It’s those ends goals that drive the top athletes to do training regimes they don’t enjoy. But if this isn’t your goal, you have a lot more room for flexibility in your program. So why wouldn’t you make it fun? For someone who is trying to lose a little weight, or improve their muscle mass - you can do this without making yourself hate the process. You are competing with nobody but yourself. So why not have fun along the way?
So to conclude part two, I will simple say - to some people, yes, exercise must be fun or it just won't happen. If it's no exercise versus fun exercise, there can only be one winner. Go to the gym, get moving, and HAVE FUN.
Over the last two articles we’ve heard both sides. That just leaves us with part 3, where we will not only look to draw some sort of conclusion, but more importantly, we will be doing our best to guide you on HOW you can make exercise more fun throughout your exercise program. Keep your eyes peeled for part 3, coming soon!