Gyms will offer you discounts. Magazines will list the hottest new classes to try. Your Facebook sidebar will spill over with ads about “the one move you need” to change your body and your life.
As if algorithms know anything about your body or your life.
Don’t get me wrong. Fitness and exercise are awesome. I’m wearing gym clothes and thinking about what podcast to listen to during my workout as we speak. But all the articles about what you should be doing to boost fitness in the new year neglect to ask the most crucial question: what kind of exercise do you actually like to do?
Me? I’m a runner. I like using my whole body rhythmically and I like being alone and I like listening to music or podcasts while I pound my tension away. I even like being on a treadmill and changing up my incline or speed as I go. That’s a good time in my world.
If you are reading this and questioning my sanity, you should probably not make “Run a 5K” your 2018 fitness goal.
I can tell you from years of experience that the only kind of exercise you’re ever going to do on a regular basis is the kind that’s fun for you. If you hate dancing, you will not show up to Zumba. If you crave speed, yoga will bore you silly. If you’re afraid of heights don’t sign up for a climbing gym.
Know thyself, know thy limits.
You also don’t need to fall for the old trope about needing the hardest workout on earth to get yourself going. For years, I have run the opposite direction whenever the word “shred” is mentioned in relation to exercise. I don’t want to shred anything except maybe cheese to put over a burrito. Bodies don’t need to be shredded. It isn’t fun to be in pain for days after a workout. Mild fatigue and some muscle aches are quite enough for me, thank you very much. I want an exercise routine that expends energy to help me sleep, not one that blasts lean muscle tissue so that I hurt too much to get out of bed.
Working out should be something you look forward to, not something you dread. Picking a fun activity that gets you excited to get off the couch should be the biggest fitness priority. It’s fine to set more typical fitness goals along the way – endurance, speed, increasing muscle mass, or what have you – but the first goal should always be to have fun. The fun is what makes fitness something you’ll want to commit to, not something you feel obligated to do.
So for 2018 make your only fitness goal this: move your body for fun. It’s a resolution you’ll enjoy keeping.