Shannon Fable by Shannon Fable

Fitness is a life-long journey. Considering how long life can be, you’ll most likely experiment with lots of different options for getting your sweat on along the way. Lucky for you, there’s no shortage of workout ideas floating around for you to explore. But with advice everywhere you turn regarding what you should try and what you should avoid, it can be hard to tell the difference between the good, the bad and the ugly.

So, what workouts are worth your while? Follow these three simple rules to finding the best workouts for you!

Forget the Fads

You hear about the “IT” program every day on TV and see video clips on your social media feed. It is on every magazine cover and your favorite celebrity is obsessed with it. Keep in mind that just because you’re hearing about a workout everywhere, doesn’t mean it is safe, effective or a good fit for you.

Don’t get me wrong—not all fads are bad. But before you dive head first into the workout du jour, try to find out as much as you can about the promise of the program, as well as its structure. How long are the workouts? What equipment is involved? What type of impact will you experience? What about the intensity that is expected? And, of course, what’s the pay off? Make sure the answers jive with your needs and desires.

Turn to people you trust who have tried the program. It’s better to have a real testimonial for the workout (or revelation), as opposed to a paid advertisement. And always be aware that no workout is perfect or the only thing you need. You should never abandon everything you’re doing for something else, exclusively! Exercise monogamy is a recipe for disaster.

Easy for You

When it comes to intensity, easy is an option but shouldn’t be the only kind of workout you do. Mix it up for best results. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about how easy it is to make the workout happen. We all have the best of intentions and we tend to seek “new” workouts and change things up to ensure we stay motivated. But it’s more about how much friction exists between the decision to do it and actually getting it done.

Whether it is the commute to the gym or the wake-up time involved, be sure the circumstances necessary to make the workout happen won’t become an obstacle. Some things to consider: Do you have to go somewhere to do it and is that a challenge? Is there special gear required (technology, clothing) and if so, do you have it or need to get it? What about expense? If the prep work creates an excuse to not do it, start thinking about how you can make working out easier to accomplish.

Get creative. Could your workouts happen at home? Need to hit the park with your kiddo? Can you do something there instead? Could you break your sweat session into smaller chunks over the week instead of making time for a long workout? It’s always important to remove obstacles before they become an excuse.

Fun is Number One!

Finally, and most importantly, there is only one filter to run your workout choices through: Is it fun? A workout plan or class could be perfect on paper and someone else’s dream workout, but if you do not find it fun, you will not do it.

If you don’t like jumping and high-impact moves, skip the boot-camp-style class in favor of a hike. Not a fan of sitting on a bike for an hour of pedaling in place? Then don’t do it. Jump on your cruiser and ride around with your little one. Take a friend and find a local ballroom dance class, if that’s more your style.

Working out should feel like a gift, not a chore, says Michelle Segar, Ph.D., author of No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness. Stop assuming the advice you get from others is the perfect formula for you. Follow these three simple steps and you may just find the activities you will do for a lifetime.