First, some definitions:
• Type 1 fun is the type of fun you have when you’re thoroughly loving every minute of whatever is happening—when you never want something to end. Like a mind-blowing first date…
• Type 3 fun is on the entire other end of the spectrum: It’s for the risk-taking crazy people out there. This kind of “fun” is usually miserable while it’s happening, miserable when it’s over, and even still pretty miserable when you talk and think about it after the fact. It’s usually the stories that end with someone being admitted to the hospital or evacuated by helicopter from a backcountry ski trip gone bad.
• Type 2 fun is kind of in the middle. It’s the type of fun that sucks the whole time you’re doing it. It’s difficult and challenging in the moment, but it leaves you feeling tremendous satisfaction when you get through it. It’s the character-building type of fun.
Many people choose not to go to the gym, or workout in general, because it isn’t “fun” or enjoyable. It’s hard, it’s often boring, and they dread it with all their heart, so they come up with excuses day after day—My knee’s a bit sore. I didn’t sleep well last night. I should get this work assignment finished. And they generally spend a good deal of brainpower bargaining with themselves—I’ll go tomorrow. I’ll go tonight. I’ll start next week.
But what if you shifted your mindset? If you didn’t expect, or even want the gym to be “fun?” Or at least, if you didn’t expect it to be Type 1 fun?
- For the record, many people who train with us DO think the gym is Type 1 fun, but it wasn’t always that way for them. For most people, the gym starts out as Type 2 fun— until it becomes routine—and then it eventually becomes something to look forward to.
I often tell new people the following: This will suck for a couple months. In fact, if this isn’t the worst hour of your day for the first little while, then you probably have a pretty crummy life. But if you stick with it, the results will be worth it! And eventually, it will be enjoyable.
The trick is being OK with the gym being Type 2 fun for a little while. In other words, EMBRACE THE SUCK FACTOR!
Here are the steps required to change your mindset to see and appreciate the gym as Type 2 fun first, and eventually Type 1 fun—the best type of fun!
Step 1: Mindset Change
Is doing the dishes fun? What about brushing your teeth? Not particularly, right? But unless you’re a college student, chances are you don’t leave dishes for a week before you wash them. And you hopefully don’t go even a day without brushing your teeth.
You brush your teeth and do the dishes because when you think about the long term rewards for doing these tasks—and the consequences for choosing not to—it becomes a no brainer decision.
To help get you through the gym doors, it helps to see working out the same way. Think about the potential rewards of being fit, and the consequences of not staying fit. Make a list of these rewards and consequences, and then remind yourself of those reasons whenever you’re debating why you need to workout. You can even try the sticky post-it note on your mirror or in your car if you think it’ll help remind you of why you need to workout.
The main thing is to come up with you personal reason WHY and remind yourself constantly of this reason.
Step 2: Establish a routine, routine, routine
Come up with a regular gym routine—be it Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or 6 pm three nights a week—until it becomes second nature. When you give yourself the chance to bargain with yourself, you’re more likely to keep procrastinating and making excuses. So it has to become as routine as waking up and having your morning coffee.
If you don’t trust yourself to stick to your intended routine, make an appointment for a set day and time. Whether the appointment is with a coach or with a friend, having a set time and a person to hold you accountable goes a long way in getting you to stick to your commitment.
Eventually, your routine becomes so embedded in your life that not showing up is no longer seen as an option in your mind.
Step 3: Keep a journal
Start keeping a journal and log what you did each day at the gym, as well as your performance scores. This will allow you to document and celebrate your progress.
Many of our athletes find that progress becomes a huge sense of pride as well as motivation to continue. It’s a big part of what keeps people coming, and it’s at the absolute heart of turning Type 2 fun into Type 1 fun—the ultimate goal. Because once the gym is Type 1 fun for you, you won’t want to stop!
Most importantly, be patient and give yourself time. One year is ideal. Commit to doing the above for one year and reassess at the end of the year. My guess is you’ll find yourself looking forward to going to the gym three or four days a week, the same way you look forward to a social event on the weekend. And if not, then you can continue having your Type 2 fun and will be a whole lot more fit than you were one year ago!