Why does our commitment to fitness sometimes feel like a chore, something we have to do?

It’s not that way for our pets, just think about how eager a dog is to get out and go for a walk, or when you drive by a field of horses and they are playfully trotting around. My dog Siena will literally spin in circles at the door if she thinks there’s a chance we might go out for a walk. I feel similarly when I’m headed to the studio to teach a cycling class. However, when I think about going in the basement to get on my exercise machine, I feel the opposite, like, “Don’t make me!”

One of the keys to being successful in your commitment to fitness (I’m not crazy about that term but for lack of something better, that’s what I’ll use now) is finding a type of movement you enjoy. There are so many ways to exercise, you’re going to love some and hate some. It’s important to try out different classes, instructors, videos, machines/tools, and activities, until you find something that clicks with your body and spirit. Give yourself ample opportunity to find the right version of the right thing.

Personally, I love being on a bike with friends, whether that’s in a studio class or mountain biking around Vermont. I also love to walk, in cities, walk in the woods, walk on hilly roads. I do not love being on the machine I have in the basement (it’s a cross between an elliptical and a stair stepper). I think about my dog, she loves to run. That’s why she’s so excited every time we go out. She’s not forcing herself to do an ab wheel because she feels societal pressure to have a six-pack of abs! She moves because she loves it, and does not overthink it. She’s in the best shape of maybe anyone I know.

Coming up with a fitness game plan

If I sat down and designed a plan for myself that included four days a week on the machine, the likelihood that I’d stick to the plan, and therefore feel and be successful, is very low. A better plan would be 2 days of biking and 2 days of walking, with the machine as a backup if the weather is awful and I can’t walk.

We’ve had clients who have told us they love barre, but they just don’t love spin. Or, they prefer the combo classes because they can spin and work their arms and core. Or, they don’t like the combo classes because they prefer to focus on just cycling, and they’ll do weights at home. Or they tried an at-home video and ended up scrolling on their phone instead. Everyone has a slightly different preference about what they enjoy and makes them feel good.

If you’re trying to add more movement to your life, make a list of all the ways you like to move. Walking, dance, cycling, snowshoeing, chopping wood, martial arts, swimming, skiing, raking leaves, virtual classes, in-person yoga, jogging with a friend, even vigorously sweeping and mopping count as movement! See if you can design your way to incorporate the things you love to do at least three days each week. With so many options for movement, there’s no need to force yourself to do something that feels draining. We hope Alpenglow classes are part of your movement mix, but are still rooting for you even if they are not.

Because if you keep the fun and joy in fitness, you’ll start looking forward to movement. And it will become habit, something you do because you love it and it makes you happy. Joy begets joy — you’ll be scratching at the door to go out and move before you know it.