The Fun Police

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You might have seen my article in Sunday Life titled ‘Fitness brings many benefits fun is not one of them’.  For those you who didn’t you can read it by clicking here: WOW, did it cause a reaction or WHAT!!! Fellow personal trainers, journalists, bloggers, even the lifestyle website Mamamia weighed in on the debate with this letter to me.  

One thing is for sure, people feel VERY, VERY strongly that fitness should be fun! With this in mind, I decided to write this response, so my stance on the subject isn’t misunderstood. 

And while i’m sorry to have to be the ‘fun police,’ however, I can assure you that while exercise is fun, fitness certainly isn’t.

My reasoning for this isn’t because I don’t want people to have a good time. Far from it! It’s due to the fact that exercise and fitness are two VERY different things.

Fitness and i know each other well. We’ve spent a lot of time together. We’ve hung out all over the world, with all kinds of different people, at all different stages. And while fitness is a lot of things, to a lot of people, fun, generally isn’t one of them.

When I say fitness, I’m talking about taking your heart rate to an uncomfortable level, breaking down muscle tissue and pushing your boundaries. So expecting people to have fun as they push themselves and their heart rate well beyond a comfortable pain threshold is setting them up for failure. This is why I am so big on educating people that if you’re not finding exercise fun, it isn’t a reason to give it the flick! Particularly in the early stages!

There are a lot of people out there peddling the fact that fitness should be fun and if it isn’t, you aren’t doing it right. The truth is, even if you LOVE exercise, or a particular activity like running, dancing or yoga, there is a big difference between a ‘fun’ activity and what it takes to achieve a fitness goal.

It’s also setting people up to rely on a feeling to measure their physical success, which in my opinion, isn’t a great idea. Why? Because, when they don’t feel it’s ‘fun’, they’ll think they’ve failed and give up!

No one likes failing and so no one will get fit if they set the expectation that ‘not finding it fun’ means they’re doing it the wrong way (when funnily enough, it’s completely normal)!

In reality, it’s the same for athletes at a premium level and absolute beginners. At some level fitness can be fun, but it is more about the reward you get from achieving something rather than the exercise itself.

So, if you want to get fit, be fair with yourself and your expectations.

Fitness takes repetition.  Delayed gratification. Pain. Motivation. And pushing yourself when you desperately want to give up…

Is the reward for your physical efforts fun?  Yes. Is enjoying the payoffs of your fit physique enjoyable? Absolutely. Is the point in your training session where your muscles are screaming at you and you’re headed for the vomit zone fun? No.

But don’t worry; I can assure you that if you put in the hard work, you’ll be feeling too fabulous to care.

Xx Mish 

Michelle Bridges, Master Trainer
Michelle is Australia’s most influential personal trainer, a best selling fitness, nutrition and mindset author, a national commentator on weight issues and has thousands of online clients with amazing weight loss results.

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    1. Thanks Michelle! love your perspective. I hate exercising because of the pain and therefore don’t want to do it! but now after reading your article I can look to appreciate and embrace fitness now! And just like Sandy Simpson below said: ” Instead of training for the love of it, I should be training for the love of ME.” God bless xxx

    2. Michelle Bridges defines fitness wrong. Quote: “When I say fitness, I’m talking about taking your heart rate to an uncomfortable level, breaking down muscle tissue and pushing your boundaries”
      However the oxford dictionary defines fitness as “the condition of being physically fit and healthy”
      Do you need to take your heart rate to uncomfortable levels and make your muscles hurt to be physically fit and healthy? … no

      I think people become disillusioned by many people in the fitness industry telling them they have to work HARD to get fitness benefits. You can easily get fit and have fun at the same time. For example, a bike ride though the vineyards, or a walk along the beach at sunset! Start small too, don’t hurt yourself in the beginning by rushing to ‘get fit in 12 weeks’, that’s one surefire way to start looking at fitness as painful and no fun!

    3. Not one to rant but your article was pretty selfish towards building an audience don’t you think? Your not setting a great example for exercise, let alone ‘fitness’. Instead of focusing on the negatives – that fitness is uncomfortable, why not focus on how exercise is fun… Your focused on setting an example and beating the obesity/health issues in Australia, however do you really think ppl will exercise if their mind is set on the uncomfortableness of ‘fitness’ and not the end result. Even if your thoughts have some truth – still no need to bring it up really. This seems more or less a PR stunt to get a reaction. Well done.

    4. Let me get this straight. You’re saying that exercise, which can be fun, is removed from fitness, which shouldn’t be fun.

      Ok, so if you’re having fun exercising then you’re doing it wrong because why? I assume you believe that it won’t lead to ‘fitness.’

      I’ve got to wonder how I got so fit playing touch, playing rugby, lifting weights, hiking, surfing… because the truth is, I had fun doing it.

      Not everyone believes in the run till you vomit or die concept of training Michelle.

      And before you get all high and mighty know this. I OWN my own RTO with a very high graduation to employment rate of success. I teach my students eustress over distress for the greater percentage with distress utilised (and periodised properly) for competition and/or for pushing the bar higher when timed right.

      Do you believe that it is wise to push your body into a state of distress every time that you train? I guess that wouldn’t be fun.

      How’s that working for your cortisol levels?

      If someone (like Sandy below – or above depending where my comment ends up) isn’t having an element of fun for the majority of their workout, then I recommend changing your workout.

      Sandy, perhaps you’re not meant to be doing the same program that everyone else on Michelle’s 12 week program is doing. Perhaps you could try paddle-boarding, or kayaking, or touch footy, or netball, or Zumba or hiking or boxing…

      There are so many ways to get and keep FIT (which isn’t as segregated from exercise as Michelle would have you think) so why not find something that you do enjoy and you’ll end up keeping it up for life.

      Life’s too short to hate training.

    5. Mish, that’s a really good point. Fun and enjoy are are two different things.

      If you ask me when I’m training whether I’m having fun, I’m going to say no because it FREAKIN’ hurts!! But ask me half an hour after, and I’ll say I feel awesome because of the energy I have. It takes a bit to kick in and it only lasts a couple of hours, and the pain I went through to get the gratification is in no way ‘fun’, but it’s so worth it. Doesn’t mean I can’t smile at the end of it because of what I’ve achieved when pushing those boundaries. Like trusting that my body can do burpees and finding I can do 3 x 10 reps with pyramid kicking between each, when I couldn’t do one at the start of May, or running for 14 minutes straight (allbeit slow) when I didn’t think I could run for 5.

      Oh, and it is fun to have bragging rights over hubby cause I can wall sit longer than he can!!

    6. Wow Michelle! Are you actually serious? Fitness, and yes – I said fitness, can definitely be fun. I pole dance and there is nothing that gets my heart pumping blood more than a serious cardio & weight bearing workout that pole FITNESS provides. Why slave away for hours in a gym not enjoying what you are doing? Why be unhappy and make it harder for yourself to stick to a fitness regime?
      I pole dance because I enjoy it! It is FUN. I have been doing it for about 2 years now and I can definitely notice the massive changes my body has gone through from sticking to doing something I love. Fitness should not be a chore! I have recently been able to strengthen my abs and gain enough upper body strength to perform a trick that I never thought I would be able to do when I first started. My muscles are more defined, my stomach is flatter and my legs are stronger. And guess what!! I improved my fitness by doing it the fun way!
      Does this also mean you don’t enjoy your job?? At least the ladies who teach & instruct me love doing what they are doing & have the bodies to show for all their hard work!

      1. I concur.

    7. Im a pole dancer, and while every other pole dancer is in outrage and uproar at both this and the previous post, I umderstand the point youre trying to make. You are correct in what you write. Simply because you define exercise and fitness differently. All the dancers just dont seem to be able to accept that your definition of the term is different to theirs. If they actually read your article properly theyd realise theyre wrong, and pretty much putting words in your mouth, out of context.

    8. I love to run. I signed up to 12WBT to do the half marathon program, and lost 11kg in the process.
      And when I go to parkrun and get a new PB, trust me, it isn’t fun. But at the end, when I’m just past that “want to vomit so bad stage”, I am ecstatic.
      And that part is fun.

    9. Wow.. after spending most of my adult life not doing much training because, frankly, I just don’t enjoy it at all, here’s Michelle Bridges telling me that it’s NORMAL!!! I’ve spent my life on a fitness yoyo where I do a few months and then when the enjoyment that everyone tells me will come – just doesn’t – I stop, then gain a little weight, then start again!!! But after reading this, it actually makes perfect sense. Instead of training for the love of it, I should be training for the love of ME.

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