According to Suzanne Brue, an expert in personality type and fitness, I'm a "Quicksilver: Master of Exercise Disguise". That's the type of person who prefers to exercise as a part of some other enjoyable activity, who wants exercise to be convenient, require minimal process and advance planning. We're also easily bored, and tend to cycle through new activities on a regular basis.
For me that's pretty accurate.
You, on the other hand, might have a very different approach to exercise, closely related to your personality type preferences.
I read about Brue's research recently, and while it is interesting from a personal growth perspective, I found it even more interesting from a marketing perspective.
"Some personalities are attracted to exercise connecting them to another person or to many people. Others are motivated by the privacy of exercising alone. Efficiency motivates some, while others are attracted to exercise offering a mind/body or spiritual dimension. Being surrounded by nature and using their observational and navigational skills are requirements for some personalities, while others crave the familiarity of consistent places and routines, allowing for mental drift. Detailed instructions and exercising "correctly" inspires some while others resist an imposed structure in favor of physical activity through "play." For one and all, there lies a satisfying, successful path toward healthy physical activity and exercise."
Our Calvinistic exercise culture currently says you have to orient yourself to follow a routine, and find pleasure in the following of this routine, because you know it is good for you. This is an approach that would work for just over half the population (54% of adults have a J preference).
Ms. Brue's research found that many J types can maintain exercise regimens that they do not enjoy at all -- they do them because it is good for them.
For the rest of us, there needs to be a play element, or we can't do it, (46% of adults have a P preference).
One of her conclusions was very surprising to me:
"Whether you eventually commit to an exercise routine as you would another job, or you look for a way to enjoy exercise to help you get past your resistance, the thought of exercise in and of itself is rarely much of a draw." [emphasis is mine]
What really surprised me about this research is that most advertising for fitness-related activities doesn't appear to be speaking to anyone's motivations. It doesn't emphasize the ease of maintaining a routine, and it doesn't emphasize the play element.
Personality type is pervasive -- it influences many of our choices in life, our values, and our communications and decision-making style.
More on this in the next post.
Type and Physical Exercise: Which Holds Sway ... Job or Play? APTi Bulletin of Pscyhological Type, Vol 30 No 2, 2007. You may be able to get a download at the association's site, here.
If you want to know more about personality type, you would also find this type of information on the APTi web site, as well as many other sources.