Match exercise to your personality type
If following your current workout routine feels like you’re just going through the motions, or if you have trouble getting-or staying-motivated, you may not be doing the right exercise for your personality. The trick is to find the type of activity that suits you, so you’re more apt to stick with it. “It’s definitely important to match exercise to your personality type, because if people are doing something they don’t enjoy, it won’t be sustainable and there won’t be a lifelong change,” says certified personal trainer Mark Stables, owner of the Benchmark Group, a Toronto-based wellness coaching company.
Take this quiz to find out the type of exercise that best suits your lifestyle.
For each question, select the answer that best describes you. Determine which letter you selected most often and proceed to the results pages to find your fitness personality (you may fall into more than one category). Then get advice from fitness and psychology experts, plus suggestions for exercises and sports to keep you motivated.
1. What are you most likely to be doing on a Saturday night?
a) Hosting a get-together at your place, or hitting the hip new bar in town.
b) Unwinding with a few magazines and a bubble bath.
c) Challenging your buddies to a game of low-stakes poker or Scrabble.
d) Going for a run and trying to outdo your best time.
2. What is your main exercise goal?
a) To enjoy a new activity. You consider any health benefits you get from doing it to be the icing on the cake.
b) To melt away the stresses of your day.
c) To get in better shape and/or lose a few pounds.
d) To reach your peak physical condition-fit, strong and full of energy.
3. At work or among your friends, you have a reputation for being:
a) The social butterfly who has the ability to energize others even when you’re stuck tackling a dull task.
b) The laid-back one who can organize the busiest projects on your own.
c) The co-operative one who will go the extra mile to help someone else get ahead.
d) The independent, sometimes hard-nosed one who always strives to do your best.
4. How would you sum up your fitness philosophy?
a) Time flies when you’re having fun. It’s tedious to do the same old thing.
b) True health means caring for the total package-body and mind.
c) It’s not about whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game.
d) No pain, no gain. You’re not afraid of a little sweat and tears.
5. What keeps you motivated the most when you’re working out?
a) The happy buzz of endorphins that you experience afterwards.
b) The state of inner calm and strength you feel while you’re exercising.
c) Your gym buddy. The good-natured rivalry fuels your adrenalin.
d) Your own inner critic/cheerleader, who drives you to meet your goals.
6. If you had a bad day, what would cheer you up the most?
a) Indulging in your favourite dessert or getting some retail therapy.
b) Seeing the big picture: An off-day is small potatoes when you consider the good stuff
in your life.
c) Hearing a pep talk from your friend or partner.
d) Knowing that you can overcome any setback by putting in extra effort.
** Now click through to find your fitness personality.
Mostly a’s: You are The Fun-seeker
You’re social and non-competitive, and are primarily driven by the “fun factor” that some activities offer. The health benefits you get are secondary to you; they’re a nice side effect. Your main fitness roadblock may be a lack of commitment; you find it hard to stick with a regimen once the novelty wears off. “For everyone, independent of personality type, the best activity is always the activity you enjoy,” explains Catherine Sabiston, an assistant professor of exercise psychology at McGill University.
“Exergames” such as Wii Sports: These games, which combine video games with exercise, are fun and easy to learn. Some (such as boxing) can get you moving enough to raise your heart rate.
Dancing, from cardio hip-hop to salsa: In addition to burning calories, these activities allow creativity and can work major muscles like the quads, abs and glutes.
Mostly b’s: You are The Holistic Type
You’re independent and non-competitive, and you think of fitness as an essential part of your overall physical and mental health. In Shinitzky’s view, “these people have a true sense of balance. Their body is a temple, so they wouldn’t do something that causes them to get out of alignment.” You would likely enjoy exercising in an environment where you can focus on improving your own fitness, and it doesn’t really matter if you have people around you or not.
• Yoga: A discipline that is all about balancing body, mind and spirit, yoga lengthens muscles and improves posture, while the breathing techniques defuse stress.
• Pilates: The controlled movements help you hone lean muscle, as well as gain strength and stability in your core.
Mostly c’s: You are The Team Player
You’re social and competitive, but you’re not the cutthroat, win-at-any-cost type. Instead, you value camaraderie and prefer exercising with a team, friend or personal trainer. Some people need the company of others to inspire them because they may have difficulty following through on their goals on their own, says Harold Shinitzky, a Florida-based licensed psychologist who offers sports psychology services.
• Ultimate Frisbee: This cardio-intensive team sport fits your spirit of good sportsmanship. The sprinting strengthens your legs while throwing works your upper body.
• Boot camp: This total-body workout, done with a group, is great for both cardio and developing muscle.
Mostly d’s: You are The Solo Athlete
You’re independent and competitive with yourself, and you have no problem following a strict, hardcore workout regimen. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a pro athlete in the making, you are likely a disciplined perfectionist with a high level of endurance and mental toughness. Because this personality type often has such a narrow focus on their sport or exercise of choice, “they can get too much of their identity consumed in their athletics,” Shinitzky explains. To avoid this, it’s important for them to work on the concept of balance, he adds, and learn to appreciate the positives from their other roles in life.
• Rock climbing: The quick movements require strength, stamina and agility, working everything from your arms and legs to your core.
• Marathon training: One of the most intense cardio workouts you can do, endurance running also taxes your lower body, particularly the hamstrings and calves.