Something that seems to be coming up a lot lately is the question of whether or not training or working out has to be fun.
Obviously, it makes it a lot easier to keep your workout routine if you enjoy every minute of it. Who wouldn’t prefer loving their workout and thinking it’s fun all the time?
There are certainly lots of activities and ways to move your body that are also enjoyable. Just to name a few off the top of my head hiking, climbing, team sports, kayaking, biking, and running are things that people think are fun but are also ways to get the heart pumping and stress your muscles.
Except, it’s not the same.
The gym and what I think of when I speak of training in general, is kind of like a mechanic shop for the human body where necessary repairs and preventative maintenance can be performed. The entire environment you live in is extremely obesogenic and harmful. Nothing about waking up to an alarm, driving to an office, sitting in a chair under neon lights all day doing work you hate, driving home and watching TV or using the computer with artificial lights on until you go to bed around midnight is good for you. In fact it is probably very literally killing you.
So it presents a need for counteracting all of this harm in very specific ways. The only way to be able to specifically address these things is by specifically addressing them – not just being generally active and hoping the base gets covered.
And it’s not always fun. My friend Maggie recently pointed out that brushing your teeth isn’t especially fun but you do it because you know it’s necessary. I love this analogy. Training isn’t always going to be fun but it’s absolutely necessary – if you want your body to keep working well and be ready and able when you want to use it to do things that ARE fun.
For sure you should line up as many things as possible to make things that make you better easier and more fun. If you absolutely hate your gym environment, then find one you like. If you hate all gyms period then suck it up and do the work. If you hate your workout program or what you’re doing, then find one you can get excited about. But if you switch from progressive resistance training that targets specific needs you have to pilates or whatever-the-fuck-bar-method is remember that you’re not longer brushing your teeth – you’re just doing an activity that is fun but probably doesn’t clean your teeth.
I can tell you from my personally experience, and I think most people would find this hard to believe, but I mostly hate training. Very rarely do I enjoy the actual process of lifting. Maybe when it’s going really well or I’m knocking down a PR. But most of it is just work that needs to get done because I like looking the way I do when I lift, I like maintaining the decade-plus investment in my physique and health, and most importantly I like the way my body functions as a result. I’m capable of throwing a fifty pound pack on my back and hiking up a mountain at 10,000 feet to chase elk on a whim with no specific preparation. At an age when most guys are declining in various functions, I’m not. That’s worth doing the work that isn’t fun.
Sometimes training is going to be fun, sometimes it’s not. You can either accept this and do what is necessary, or you can keep chasing entertainment.
I don’t like how much you don’t like Pilates since I find it’s a very nice complement to my heavier lifting days and has really improved some of my proprioception issues, but I agree with everything else you had to say.
I don’t dislike Pilates at all! I think it’s great, as you said, as a complement. It’s just not a substitute for progressive resistance training.