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Do the Minimum.

Not a Fitness Enthusiast? You're not alone.

Having worked in the fitness industry, with all sorts of different clients for well over 25 years now, I've noticed that there are generally two types of people when it comes to fitness.

The first type is what we could call enthusiasts. Fitness for them is more than just physical activity, it's a hobby, even a passion. Much of their lives therefore revolves around their current fitness workout while always on the lookout for new challenges.

The second type is the one whom, you guessed it, does not enjoy fitness as a hobby, or passion, and whose life does not revolve around fitness activities.

Statistically, the vast majority of people fall into the the latter category, with studies showing that approximately only 30% of adults engage in regular activity (and we can assume that not all of that percentage sees it as their go-to hobby!).

My Own Dirty Little Secret

I have been a trainer my entire adult life. So it would be natural to assume that I'm one of those fitness enthusiast, right?


Fitness is a vital part of my life, but it's not now, nor has it ever been, my hobby or passion. It's something I value as a practice and as a way of feeling better and being more engaged in the world. But the value I derive from it is as a means, not as an end itself. Leveraging fitness to help people live flourishing lives? That's my passion. Jumping into an impromtu HIIT class when I have some spare? Um, no thanks, there are just too many other things I'd rather be doing.

The Skewed Perspective of the Fitness Industry

That's me, and I confess, I'm probably an outlier when it comes to trainers. I think it's fair to say that most fitness industry folks started out because they were drawn to fitness itself, which makes total sense.

But that also means that we've got a major disconnect happening. A small percentage of folks who love fitness are creating content and programming (not too mention marketing) exercise for the vast majority of people who don't have the same affection. (Exhibit A: Um, Instagram.)

Exercise as Medicine: The Minimum Effective Dosage Model

Dr. Peter Attia says it pretty strongly: "Exercise might be the most potent “drug” we have for extending the quality and perhaps quantity of our years of life."

So if we see this medicinal quality to exercise, the next step is how to take our medicine without gaslighting ourselves that we love getting a sweat on surrounded by a bunch of other super-enthusiastic people.

The principle of minimum effective dosage is about finding the smallest dose of exercise that produces a desired outcome. What is desired? Well, at the beginning, the most important outcome is that it becomes a consistent practice, a process that begins to weave into our lives.

Here are few tips on how to reframe our relationship to exercise using this model:

Start Small, Think Big

The key to successfully incorporating exercise into one's life is to start small. Instead of overwhelming yourself with grandiose fitness plans, focus on achievable and sustainable actions. This might include short, brisk walks, basic bodyweight exercises, or simple stretching routines. The goal is not to exhaust yourself but to establish a routine that feels accessible and enjoyable.

Consistency Over Intensity

In my extensive experience, I've found that consistency always trumps intensity, especially for those just beginning their fitness journey. Rather than pushing yourself to the limit sporadically, aim for regular, moderate activity...even if it doesn't seem like a workout. This can be as simple as taking a small walk around the block a few times a week. Or setting a timer to stand up a few times a day and circle your arms. Or doing soleus pushups while sitting.

Listen to Your Body

Understanding one's own limits and respecting the body's signals is crucial, especially in the initial stages of incorporating exercise. If you're new to fitness, it's essential to pay attention to how your body responds to different activities. Gradually increase the intensity as you become more comfortable and confident, ensuring a sustainable and injury-free progression.

Celebrating Small Wins

The principle of minimum effective dosage also applies to the psychological aspect of fitness. Celebrate small victories along the way – whether it's completing a workout, reaching a personal milestone, or consistently sticking to your routine. Positive reinforcement plays a significant role in building a positive relationship with exercise.

Get Help

This is the most important tip. If you're enthusiastically pouring over the fitness literature to build your own routine and love doing so....then chances are you're not reading this.

And if you are reading this, chances are the idea of fitness brings up a deep sense of ugh.

There are ways to help get you moving that are right for you and that, even if you don't love, can come to appreciate for the gateway they provide to a fuller, healthier and more vital life.

As a fellow non-enthusiast, I understand, and I'm here to help.

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