Ok, we’ve heard both sides. So should exercise be fun or not? The truth is, and it’s a boring answer – it really does depend on the person who is undertaking the exercise. And how do we make exercise fun any way? We’ll address the latter at the bottom of this article. But first, let’s deal with the former.
It’s important to remember that people define fun in different ways. Some people love challenges, and they actually get enjoyment trying to conquer the tough parts along the other way. For others, this is the opposite to their idea of fun. Fun to some is simply a case of being entertained, under no form of struggle. In the exercise sense, there will be people who do actually enjoying pushing their body to it’s physical limit. They enjoy the feeling of totally fatiguing a muscle, and they enjoy the process of getting there. Some will hate every step of this.
I think the key to the argument comes down to what the goal of the process is. Exercise can be used for many things, from raising general health and fitness to pushing the body to it’s maximum potential in preparation for a huge sporting event. If you are a top level athlete, there is no need for exercise to be fun, and at times it arguably shouldn’t. I’m not talking the “hardcore” gym goer who trains 6 times a week because they love it there – I’m talking the top level weightlifter, or sprinter, or any other top level competitive athlete. They use exercise as a tool to be the best they can at their sport. For someone looking to improve their general health, without pushing to their absolute physical limit, however - why would you not have a little fun in your training? As long as it’s not throwing you completely off track, there is certainly good reason to ensure you enjoy your training.
A lot of ”die hards” and even many fitness professionals will stubbornly say exercise shouldn’t be fun, and will almost look down on those enjoying themselves whilst preaching about which forms of training, usually the not so fun training methods, lead to the “greatest” results. They see any one having fun in the gym as not taking it seriously, and lacking the drive and commitment they have. This is simply wrong. As mentioned earlier, most people don’t have extremely high levels goals that fitness enthusiasts do. They don’t want to turn down beers with their friends just because they have to be at the gym for some deadlifts the next morning. It’s simply not their lifestyle, and for most lifestyle should be about balance.
So, what is actually best? I’m going to give my personal opinion to conclude on this. I would always encourage people to have a fun day even if the best way of reaching their goals would involve little to no fun at all. As a trainer, I will always strive to give people what they need, mixed in with what they want. Some people hate out being of breath, some people hate big weights. Everyone is different, and it should be considered when putting together a programme. Honestly, I think you need a little bit of both. One of my favourite sayings is Embrace the Grind. I’ve said it to many a client when I can see they aren’t enjoying a specific aspect of training, and I’ve had to say it to myself on many occasions. However, I feel it rings true. Embrace the discomfort, and embrace the fact you won’t always have fun. But always allow yourself to add aspects of training to help you to enjoy it. Put up with the tougher parts in order to push yourself and improve yourself both physically and mentally, and reward yourself with the fun parts to keep yourself enjoying the process. After all, a little mixture never hurt anyone.
So now that we are going down the route that exercise should indeed be a little fun at times, the question is – how do we make it fun? Well allow us to provide some suggestions. Here’s a quick list of 10 ways to make exercise more fun:
- Train with somebody else
- Listen to music whilst working out
- Reward yourself for good progress
- Exercise via day to day activities, eg walking the dog, going up and down the stairs
- Add variety to your workouts
- Set yourself challenges
- Do the hardest part of the workout first
- Play a sport
- Try some exercise games
- Get a trainer!
Try these out and let the fun begin!