What Type of Exerciser Are You?
January is BlogHer's Month of Little Steps to Health & Fitness, and we want you to share your favorite easy health tip! Click here to see how to play along. And check out all the tips so far in the Month of Little Steps to Health & Fitness series.
What kind of exerciser are you? Take this handy quiz to find out (I love quizzes!):
1. You've just moved to a new town. Do you a) rush to find the closest gym b) take a quick drive to find the best running/hiking/biking trails or c) work on memorizing your new alias?
2. Your go-to workout is a) a group fitness class b) a run or weight circuit with earbuds in and tunes pumping or c) menacingly curling a 50-lb weight with a look on your face that says "if you even look like you're going to talk to me, I'll cut you."
3. When you do miss a workout, your primary reason is a) "my friend bailed, and I didn't want to go alone!" b) "I lost the chest strap to my Garmin, and I have to know if I'm running at my personal best pace" or c) "the manager at my gym said I'm no longer allowed within 50 feet of the entrance, by court order."
Mostly "a"s: you are likely a group exerciser. You're the kind of person who loves to workout with other people and gets energized rather than panicked in a room full of sweaty kicking people. You're drawn to activities like Zumba, TurboKick, boot camps, and Body Pump.
Mostly "b"s: you are likely a solitary exerciser. Your workouts are your time to think things through and de-stress and lots of other people around either irritate or overwhelm you. You gravitate towards activities like running, hiking, and weightlifting on your own. You're rarely seen without your iPod.
Mostly "c"s: You're either really bad at taking self quizzes or you have psychological problems beyond the scope of this blog.
Research has shown that people who are supported by friends and loved ones are able to sustain healthy changes much longer than those who try and go it all alone. (The reverse is also true: your friends' bad habits can drag you down too... but we won't talk about that study!) A support group can encourage you when you feel like giving up, hold you accountable when you start to slack and cheer you on as you succeed. Whether you are a Groupie or a Soloist, you still need a support group to help you best achieve your healthy living goals - the difference will be in how you find and rely on that support group. So how do you find a support group that matches your needs?
Tips for Groupies
One of the comments I get most often about my blog and book is, "You're so lucky to have such great gym buddies! I'd work out every day too if I had friends like that!" And while I freely acknowledge that I have the best gym buddies in the whole world, I also believe that anyone who wants a workout buddy can find one.
- Find a gym buddy at the gym. A lot of times I hear women complain that their friend just isn't as into working out as they are/flakes a lot/doesn't like the same activities/runs too slow etc. You can save yourself a lot of pain by doing what you enjoy and then looking around at the people doing the same thing. I first met my best friend Allison because we were in the same aerobics classes five days a week (that was before I got the memo about the problems with chronic cardio). It was easy to meet up at the gym because we were both already there and both enjoyed the same classes. The hardest part is getting up the courage to say "hi." And don't worry about ditching your other friends, that's what Girl's Night Out is for!
- Join a weight loss/healthy cooking group. Many diets - most notably Weight Watchers - have group meetings where you can make friends with women in the exact same situation as you. Groups allow you to share struggles and tips and hugs. If you aren't looking to lose weight but just eat healthier, you could join a local cooking class or form a dinner party where the focus is on sharing healthy recipes.
Tips for Soloists
Just because you don't like working out in a group doesn't mean you have to lose out on the benefits of having a support group.
- Find an e-mail/chat buddy. The Internet was made for this! For instance, if you're a runner, check out the forums on your fave magazine's website or the local forums for your city. They can help you find a training partner (if you want) or can just give you people to check in with every once in a while and compare notes. Another way is to start a blog (hey-o!). You don't have to worry about them interrupting your workout but you'll have tons of people ready to cheer you on or give you advice when you need it (just make sure you're a good Internet buddy and do the same for them as well.).
- Have a real life check-in friend. While the Internet is awesome, it's not great for everything and there's no one who can hold you to your goals like a real-life friend or family member. This person doesn't need to exercise or diet with you - they don't even need to be interested in it! - all they need is to be interested in helping you better your health. (Moms are amazing for this!) Decide when you have time to do a quick phone call or in-person chat and then stick to it. Tell them exactly what questions you'd like them to ask you and how you'd like them to hold you accountable. And you never know, your healthy living might inspire them to make a few changes of their own!
Barbara Streisand may not have been talking about exercise per se when she crooned that "people who need people are the luckiest people of al,l" but I'm sure Babs would agree that a support group of some kind is critical to making and maintaining healthy lifestyle choices.
What's your workout mojo - do you prefer to go it alone or do you like a group? Or do you like a little of both? Do you have a support group?
Written with love by Charlotte Hilton Andersen for The Great Fitness Experiment (c) 2011. If you enjoyed this, please check out my new book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything for more of my crazy antics and uncomfortable over-shares!