How To Find An Exercise That You Will Love

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

The title for this post has been sitting in my queue for months. The truth of the matter is that it was pretty difficult for me to find an exercise that I enjoy. The only real advice I have for anyone who hates exercise is this:

Try something different.

That’s it. If you hate your workout, then try something different. For YEARS, I thought that I had to do aerobics to get thin. I think it’s because I watched so much Richard Simmons when I was a kid and then I was a teen during the Jane Fonda era of physical fitness. Every second that I did aerobics, I HATED it. The teachers rarely explained the moves well enough so that I would know what I was doing, so I ended up just fumbling around. I can’t clarify enough how much I despised aerobics.

Even Denise Austin, wasn’t enough to make me like aerobics. She is so clear when she explains what she wants me to do. She is good enough not to be too repetitious, so her videos don’t irritate me with the same phrases over and over again. I was able to do Denise Austin workouts for a summer in 1992, and she will always hold a soft place in my heart, but I just don’t like to do aerobics.

About six years ago, I knew that I wanted to start exercising because I wanted to improve my cardiovascular health. It wasn’t about losing weight. I knew that the studies had only proven that exercise helps heart health, not necessarily weight loss. I thought back to all the different exercises that I did in gym classes over the years. The only one where I enjoyed it enough to actually EARN an A in the class was a jogging class I took the first semester of high school. I decided that I would run.

Luckily, it worked out for me. It was painful. It wasn’t easy, but there were no teammates to complain about my performance. There were no competitors to pass me by. It was just me, running around my suburban neighborhood or on my treadmill. Running worked out for me and strangely, it led to other exercises that I enjoyed like bike riding and even weight training.

So many of my friends stay in shape with aerobics. There was a kickboxing class at the community center that my sister just loved. When I attended it, I wanted to punch the teacher in the face for assuming that all her students knew what she was doing. Halfway through the class, I stopped trying to follow along and just stepped up and down on the step over and over until it was over. If I had insisted on using aerobics as my way of getting fit, I wouldn’t have a story to tell you today.

If you hate exercise, STOP DOING IT! I don’t think any other health and fitness person will tell you that, but I’m here right now to tell you that it’s okay to stop doing whatever it is you hate. The only thing I ask is that you try something different. I don’t care what it is, but try something else and stick with it for a month or two until you know whether you like it or HATE it.

I promise you. If you keep looking and trying new things, you will find an exercise that you love.


24 Responses to “How To Find An Exercise That You Will Love”

  1. Sarabeth Says:

    I’d like to add that if you belong to a gym do your best not to be anonymous. Don’t just be part of the herd that goes in and then leaves after sweating a bit or a lot. Talk to the instructor. Ask questions. Make a friend. This makes your experience exercising enjoyable.

    My yoga instructor worries about me when I’m not in class. This makes me want to come back as the gym is part of my community.

  2. howard Says:

    I am 58 years old and finally found a fitness exercise regimen that works for me. I use a weighted jump rope every morning during the week. Jumping for 10 minutes each morning is doable and gives me great start in the morning. A Nike cardiac monitor watch keeps me in the training range heart rate wise. During the cold of winter and the heat of summer, I get at least 10 minutes of intense exercise each weekday.

  3. jeff Says:

    I’m still looking. I love step aerobics, but I don’t like confusing steps.

    I’m 63 yr old male.

    I hated gym when I was in school. Managed to be unavailable for lots of the gym activities during high school.

    Had they had cooperative sports. Or maybe dance, I would have been happier.

    But your comment about punching the instructor in the face… well I understand the feeling.

    They all seem to want to yell at the class, and fwiw, that doesn’t motivate me, except to get me OUT the door.

    My step aerobics leader teaches childrens dance at the local fitness center & and a more peacefull approach. the other instructors are riding her about being “quiet”.

    More later. maybe. Fellow starling… Jeff

  4. Jim Jones Says:

    I love your sentiment Laura. I think there are a lot of individuals that feel exercise comes down to running, aerobics, or weight training, and if they can’t fit the bill with any of the above, they might as well quit.

    It is OK if you quit an exercise activity, but just make sure you move on to something else. Run around with your kids in the backyard, join an adult soccer league, etc. Make your exercise an enjoyable experience and you’ll soon find yourself feeling fullfilled in other areas as well.

    Jim http://www.runfatboy.net – A workout plan that doesn’t feel like homework.

  5. glenda Says:

    I agree that no one should do any type of exercise that they do not trully enjoy, they will eventually quit and not do anything at all. The worst part about it, is that if you do something you do not like, you dread doing it and it puts undue pressure on you until you get the job done. Then if you quit you have feelings of quilt. So move on and try all types of exercise, soon you will find on you like, all the feelings of dread until you get it done will subside, and you will not quit. Mix and match all types and keep it interesting.

  6. Andie Says:

    I do Water Aerobics (aquacise). I absolutely love it and I hate regular aerobics.

  7. Jonathan Sabar Says:

    I like the site and the sentiments. I am a fitness professional, and I try to encourage people to find something they enjoy (“The ‘best’ exercise is the one you’ll actually do”). If someone hates the confines of the gym, but she’ll play Ultimate Frisbee at any possible opportunity, she should do it! There’s no virtue to playing hamster on a treadmill…it’s just efficient.

    That being said, there are definite benefits to incorporating strength, cardiovascular, and flexibility work, but the options are virtually limitless.

  8. Mysti Says:

    Hi I am starting to begin working out again and one of the reasons I quit last time is because I didn’t like my workout. Does anybody have any ideas of some really fun excersizes?

  9. Debra Says:

    Boy did I need to read this. Total honesty, I do not like to exercise. I have a stationary bike, treadmill, ball, weights, The Firm dvd’s, aerobic tapes, Billy Banks tapes, my list could go on and on I’ve even tried classes, but I just can’t stick with it. All this stuff and I just plain don’t like it, I get bored and feel like it’s just one more thing I NEED to do. I’d like to exercise to tone, and strengthen, I only need to shed about 10 pounds so what’s my problem. I’m turning 50, I teach and am drained when I get home. I start to workout than little by little I slip away from it. Most tapes are too long I can’t handle a 30- 45-minute workout, any suggestions? Thanks, I feel better.

  10. Emily Says:

    I saw an article that recommended assesing whether you are 1) happier in groups or on your own, 2)competetive or not and 3) one other category I can’t recall. Then they listed various activities that went with the various combinations. The list was very accurate for me and the idea made a lot of sense, matching the type of exercise to your personality.

    Also, I have been known to pay for classes and then not go, so when I discovered a kind of dance that really works for me (Shake Your Soul), I went through the teacher training to make sure I would show up for class. I haven’t bailed on my students yet : )

  11. Jag Says:

    One of the difficult things in life is to get someone to start exercising regularly. Even harder is to try to persuade the same person, after a time, not to over do it! You may hate your exercise if you think that you are not exercising hard enough. Start light. Keep doing very light exercises till you choose to work a little harder. Soon somebody will be asking you if you really need to exercise so hard! Walking around a room while watching TV is better than watching from a comfortable chair!

  12. barbra Says:

    I’m a heavy smoker who cant seem to stop, no matter what. I want to exercise but get embarrassed because i have no air or stamina. I’m thinking that exercise would make me feel healthier and help me quit but where do i start? I really can barely walk sometimes. You’d think that would maake me quit smoking but it doesn’t. What should i do?

  13. gracie Says:

    I can relate to what you are saying. I smoke to and am trying to work out so that I will quit, I use to be very athletic, I have found spinning to be a great help.

  14. Charlotte Says:

    I am 49 years old. I have always hated running, even in high school so I knew that was not for me. I know that I am getting older and I do not want the stress on my knees from aerobics. I started out with the Leslie Sansone walk at home DVD/tapes……very easy and no high impact. She has one mile, two mile, three mile and four mile tapes. I work out at the gym every week day and use the Eliptical because there is no stress on my knees. I also use the walk tapes at home from time to time for diversity.

  15. Megan Says:

    I HATE Tae-bo with a passion. I’ve never completely hated something as much as I hate Tae-bo. I didn’t think it was possible to hate something that much.

    I’m 15 and I used to do a hole bunch of different things when I was a kid. I used to play hockey until about grade 8 when I was independant enough to say it was boring, and I didn’t want to do it anymore. Since then, I’ve lost quite a bit of my, well, physique.

    I did the Tae-bo workout tapes for about a week, before I couldn’t stand them. It’s extremely tiring (they’re about an hour long plus an hour for a shower afterwards) and in total they take away 2 hours of the time I use for homework. After my homework, and excersise, the time I need to do what I want goes out the window.

    I want to join an excersise class (I actually do really enjoy active) to get back in shape, but a lot are only for people over 16. Not all, mind you, but most. I’m also kind of scared to join a sports team as I feel I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I’m in a heathly weight rage, but I want to lose about 10 pounds to be more comfortable with my body like I used to be.

    There are other classes and things I want to do though (like piano lessons and volunteer work) that I’d like to do instead of using that time for an excersise class.

    Tae-bo isn’t my only choice, I know, but with my limited resources I feel like it is.

    What should I do?

  16. Cara Fletcher Says:

    Everybody has to find his favorite sport activity on his own.I personally love my low impact water aerobics trainings and they help me alot to stay in shape.

  17. Lisa Says:

    I agree with Cara, Megan. It took me years to find my niche and then ofcourse you get bored with it and start searching for another. It’s a journey, not a destination. The important thing is you are concerned about being fit. At 15, many people have different priorties. I didn’t like Taebo at first either, you know why?, couldn’t do what they were expecting me to do. It was too fast, the kicks were too high, whatever. I did the moves slower until i got stronger. Cardio intensity, strength and endurance, that’s the ticket. And it not so much the 10lbs, try measuring instead.

  18. mims Says:

    For someone looking to stop smoking, a great book that has helped millions quit, (a bunch of my friends too) is “The Easy Way To Stop Smoking” by Allen Carr. If I hadn’t already quit I would have used this book to do so. When my friends tried it they were passing it along and succeeding one after the other. Try it.

  19. Val Says:

    This is an interesting topic. I always knew that there were exercizes that I like more than others. It just never dawned on me the impact that would have on my fitness. 🙂

    I’ve always hated running. Even as a kid, I would refuse to jog the mile in PE class. My husband loves to run, so I’ve spent the past few years trying to “learn” how to do it so that we can exercize together. I still hate it. Not only that, but I’m no good at it. I get out of breath very easily, it took me 10 months of working at it non-stop to even be able to jog for 30 minutes strait….. music helps a bit, but not enough.

    I danced all the time as a kid and teenager. I loved it. The hard thing is that there aren’t dance classes for adults…. I’ve tried arobics, kick boxing, jazercise, etc. but I tend to get bored.

    The best thing I’ve found that works for me is to put on some music and just dance around the house. At times I’ll get carried away and exercise for much longer than I intended to.

    The importance of picking something you like makes so much sense. I just had never put two and two together before. I guess I need to teach my hubbie ballet! 🙂 (I’m joking…) Thanks for the thoughts!!

  20. bonnie Says:

    i love walk away the lbs. by leslie sansone but i just can’t make myself faithful to do it. i am a weight watcher member ,i have never reach my goal ,i have been going for 17 yrs,.pretty bad that i can’t hang in there and be a life time member, but i won’t givw up …any suggestions,,? thanks bonnie ,,,,ky.

  21. jeanette jansons Says:

    Emily mentioned an article about finding the right exercise for yourself based on certain criteria. Does anyone know of it, or similar articles on the web?

    Myself, I hate groups, and tend am non competitive. School gym (where both reigned) was torturous… Walking is great (45 mins every day) but not good for my aerobic fitness. Thanks for the article – I’m not alone!!!

  22. Jane Jester Says:

    I love Jazzercise! Have been doing it now for nine years. It is a combination of aerobic and strength training choreographed to contemporary music of all kinds (jazz, hip hop, rock, country). It never gets stale because new music and routines roll out every 10 weeks or so. It keeps up with trends in the fitness world, like using kick boxing, pilates, and yoga-based movements within the choreography. I think it’s something I can do for the rest of my life.

  23. mtbman1 Says:

    This post is right on the money. I found skiing and biking at age 59 and it eventually helped me with eating right and going back to the gym. If it ever stops being fun I find that I’m pushing too hard. Then I back off and do it just for fun again. I would definitely say if you don’t find something you like, move on but keep trying, keep looking. Never give up.

  24. Benjamin S. T. Says:

    Man I kind of know what you are getting at. Its just that I’m still searching for the physical activity that I’d enjoy. I also was told by a doc that I have an ankle problem that I should exercise through in order to lose weight and heal up from an injury. I may start out with just walking but I dunno about the activity of walking being good enough for something I’ll wanna stick with for the long haul. Its not a question of IF I need to do something because its pretty obvious when people look at me and see how heavy I must be. I weight 300 lbs and I’m about 5 foot 9 inches tall. I know I need to get active Its just that I have yet to find something I can REALLY enjoy.

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