Approaching Workouts with Child-Like Joy May Be Key to Staying Motivated

If you’re a fan of the hit 90s/00s sitcom “Friends” then you may remember the episode where Phoebe and Rachel become running buddies, only for Rachel to change her mind about her new workout pal as soon as she sees the way Phoebe runs with reckless abandon. Later in the episode, after Rachel is caught purposely avoiding a run with Phoebe, she explains to Rachel that she chooses to run like she did as a kid because it’s the only way it makes it feel fun.

Well it turns out Phoebe may have been on to something; injecting childlike joy into your workouts may be the key to keeping you motivated, especially in times when you really rather do anything but work out. After all, it’s much harder to drag yourself to the gym when you don’t have anything to look forward to. A fun exercise will give you something to be excited about, even in the toughest of times. In fact, it’s backed by science.

So we spoke with Rondell Parham, a certified personal trainer at Texas Health Fitness Center Fort Worth, to get his insight on how to bring more joy into your workouts and why it’s so important in sticking to an exercise routine.

“​​Working out with joy can tend to feel like a monumental mindset to conquer when we sometimes dread all the hard work it sometimes takes to be able to get the results we desire on a regular basis,” he explains. “From my personal experience of working out and training others for numerous years, you often have to keep it fresh and reinvent the wheel. Changing a routine keeps you on your toes and away from a mundane workout.”

 

Identifying Joyful Exercises

Integrating joy into your workouts may seem easier said than done. You might think there’s no exercise you feel explicitly joyful doing. But a good place to start can be thinking back to any sports or games you liked to play as a child since oftentimes we get into sports at a young age because of the fun element, not how great of a workout it was. The same goes with any playground games you used to play.

If you really liked playing sports or recess games because of the comradery and social interaction that came with being on a team or around a lot of people, individual workouts that you lead and do on your own may not be fulfilling. The less fulfilling something is, the more likely you’ll abandon it. Instead, try a partner-based or group workout class.

“Partner-based and group exercises are always great because you have an accountability partner and someone who is enjoying the journey with you,” Parham says. “If you find it hard to get motivated and don’t like any aspect of working out, get someone you know you can trust to help you see the positives in working out from a health standpoint.”

If you enjoyed playing soccer or volleyball growing up, try incorporating similar moves into your exercise routine, if you can’t join a recreational league for those sports. For instance, try throwing in volleyball digs, which serve as bodyweight squats, foot shuffles for cardio, which can mimic soccer agility drills, or volleyball spikes, which function as plyometric jumps.

If you weren’t into sports as a kid, try narrowing down other activities you used to enjoy as a child, and possibly still enjoy now as an adult, but you wouldn’t necessarily categorize it as a “workout.” For instance, if you love to dance, a dance-based workout, such as Zumba or even a step class — both of which are offered at various Texas Health Fitness Centers — is likely to get and keep you happy, moving, and boosting your well-being. And chances are you’ll be having so much fun, you might not even realize you’re working out.

Try to define what you enjoy, and then make sure you add those elements into your workout for no reason other than because you enjoy them. At the end of the day, even if your idea of “fun” means putting on your favorite jams and moving your body to the music as you cook dinner, do laundry or finish out any other chores around the house, you’re still moving your body, getting your heart rate up, and putting a smile on your face.

“There are many different ways to get moving in an enjoyable way,” Parham adds. “Thinking outside of the box is the new exercise routine. There is literally something for everyone if you do your research and pay attention to detail and social media these days.”

And if you’re still lost on what may spark joy in you, Parham says there’s no harm in being open-minded and trying many different things to see what’s a hit and what’s a miss, especially as we head into New Year’s resolution time.

“With 2022 on the horizon it may be smart to be open-minded,” he says. “You may have tried the gym route or training a million times and each time ends the same — with you eventually abandoning it. But if you find something that really gives you a result and you don’t find yourself struggling to stick with it, then that should be the thing you stick with, even if it’s not a ‘conventional’ exercise or workout routine. Don’t ever compromise and end up doing something you know you’re not going to stay committed to.”

Parham adds that exercise has many lifelong benefits other than just looking good, and adding variety can be important for spicing up a routine that is starting to feel boring; that mindset shift can help you stick to a routine because you’re no longer dreading a workout, but instead you’re looking forward to having fun.

“Add in fun exercises that spark creativity and challenge you. Not everything has to be a grueling military workout, so to speak,” Parham says. “We must not forget the body can do amazing things with just about anything we may not deem as ‘exercise.’”

Looking to add some variety and fun to your exercise routine? The THR Fitness Centers, powered by FX Well, offer every new member a complimentary fitness assessment, movement screen, and personal training session to help you get started. In addition, there are 40+ virtual classes a week, a Digital Fitness App with a new bodyweight and in-gym workout posted daily, a variety of 30, 60, and 90-day custom programs built to help you achieve your goals, in-body body composition testing, and more! Click here to check out membership options https://www.texashealth.org/Health-and-Wellness/Fitness

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