Don't Let Your Fitness Become a Second Job

Justin Lind


Kettlebells, Gymnastics, CrossFit


Think about your fitness routine. How do you structure the schedule, goals, and logistics? Next, consider how closely your routine matches the following scenario: You go to your training facility of choice (HIIT, CrossFit, yoga, studio fitness, etc.) three days per week, spaced at an even interval and always at the same time of day. Let’s say Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 6:00 PM, right after work. You do the same style of class, with approximately the same individuals and the same coach/trainer/instructor. You have a special set of clothes and shoes for this endeavor.


None of this is negative. In fact, those who manage this level regularity and consistency can typically boast ample results for their efforts. However, a regimen like the one above can soon transform from an exciting endeavor that draws you back each time to simply another thing that you do at a certain time.



Being at a specific place at a specific time wearing a specific set of clothing sounds an awful lot like a job. Granted no one spends 40+ hours per week at the gym, your training time is (read: hopefully is) significantly more fun than your office hours, and those workout clothes are soft, stretchy, and of your choosing. The takeaway is that despite the fact that you choose to train, choose how to train, and choose when to train, you can easily take on the monotony of a vocation.


The Compartmentalized Fitness Routine

We compartmentalize our fitness into a little box, a side-project to our “real” life, only to be considered and valued during the prescribed time and place that we have assigned to it. This puts it on the same level of chores and taxes. “I mow the lawn on Saturday, take the trash out on Wednesday, do my taxes in April, and workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings.” Relegating your movement and exercise into the realm of “things that simply need to get done” is the quickest way to flame out or come to resent your training.


Fitness is not accomplished in a set place or a set time. Fitness is not a side-project. In fact, fitness is not even a project at all, but a thread woven into your whole life. A lens through which you view your world and a filter through which you pass you decisions.


Different gyms and different styles of training always entice with how they are more fun, different, and exciting than the next. The great secret of our industry is that they are all right, yet all wrong. If you are stuck in a monotonous routine, any change is both welcome and exciting. But in a matter of time (weeks and even up to years) anything can become routine. It’s not about finding your perfect match, it’s about understanding that your perfect match as an evolving, almost living being that grows and changes as you do. More than any style of training, you are wired for novelty.


Redefining Priority

I understanding how many people develop such a rigid relationship with their fitness regimen. More than understanding, I admire the type of commitment that such a regimen demonstrates. If you prioritize your personal health and fitness, you must commit to it above the daily whims that arise. This is, in fact, what it means for something to be a priority. For some, such rigidity is an asset and a prominent feature of their success. I attest that these individuals are the exception rather than the rule.



For most, it is the rigid structure, the very same that keeps them committed in the early stages, that ultimately leads to burnout.


The key is to redefine what it means to prioritize your fitness. Let your fitness be a support system for life rather than life itself. Do things that utilize and test your fitness to bring meaning to your training. Let’s face it, passion for training itself only lasts so long. Let passion for the many aspects of your life inform your training and provide the necessary commitment.


Prioritize your fitness but do not separate it to a rigid confine. Instead, weave it through your life. This will bring novelty for a continual refill on excitement and allow both your time commitment and styles of training flow with your natural changes in life.




Fitness for Real Life

The first step toward bringing freshness into your fitness routine is to ask yourself why you are training in the first place. Goals give meaning and direction to your training and goals that come from your passions are the most potent. Running a 40-minute 10K or doing a strict pull up are wonderful goals to work toward, but becoming stronger in your favorite pastime (say, a better rock-climber), playing basketball with your kids, or being fit enough to try an activity you have always dreamed about will motivate you on a much deeper level.


Don't Let Your Fitness Become a Second Job - Fitness, goals, fitness routines, functional movement, mindset, daily practice


Building a training plan around a life goal not only adds deeper meaning and direction, but incorporates your life passions into your fitness. Being fit enough to play basketball with your kids not only tells you what factors you should train and drives you to do so, but also allows for as much time as possible actually playing basketball. A win/win/win.



In addition to weaving your fitness into your normal life, here a few ways to keep your regular training a bit more novel:


Change It Up

Simply bring your normal routine and partners to a novel location and incorporate your new surroundings into the workout. A public park, beach, lake, walking path, high school track can add some well-needed freshness to an otherwise normal workout. Some of my favorite park workouts are structured just like my normal gym sessions with fun things like skipping and bear crawls between stations.


Test Out Your Fitness

Try something new that will challenge you both physically and mentally. You don’t need to make these into a weekly routine, but occasionally forego a gym session for a new activity. Try something that as always fascinated you; or better yet, something that has always intimidated you. Indoor rock climbing, kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, parkour, and trampoline parks are all safe yet thrilling ways to challenge your fitness.


Pursue Multiple Avenues

Mix up your styles of training throughout the week. This is a not only a great way to keep things interesting but also allows you to move and train more often. Perhaps you train with weights a few days a week, so try running, hiking, or yoga on the off days.


Try to find something that excites you (perhaps some of those new activities that you’ve now tried). These should feel like a respite from your more structured days and should prioritize fun. These days are also the best place to mix in those “real-world” passions such as hiking, biking, or surfing. I find personally that the two factors that really make these days shine are to both: practice one of my passions and spend time outdoors.


Break the Structure

If you are feeling burnt out on your current training or unmotivated to keep your commitment level as high as it once was, do not fret. You are not getting lazy or losing your drive, you have probably let your commitment confine your fitness into a second job. Mix things up and weave your fitness goals into the aspects of your life that you love.


Movement and training should be physically demanding, but also a rejoicing exercise in freedom. Do not allow the structure and monotony that often must define your professional life seep into your training. Your fitness journey should feel like a break from that mentality, not an extension of it.

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