The key to setting up and maintaining a good active fitness environment is making sure that you are exercising for the right reasons. We have gotten stuck in a very worrying cultural trance which labels fitness is this painful thing that we have to force ourselves through in order to look good on the beach this summer. This notion is greatly flawed and is a big part of the reason why developed nations today are so terribly unfit and overweight.
First and foremost, you are setting yourself up for almost certain failure by having good looks as the primary motivation for regular exercise. This form of motivation is inherently self-defeating primarily because it links your happiness to what you think other people might think of you – a true psychological death trap. Also, since the source of motivation is wholly external, it will only last as long as the external factors driving it are strong enough (hence the many yo-yo diets we see today).
No, the principal motivation for good fitness should come from a fully internal drive towards optimal health – a state where your most precious possession, your body, is fully optimized and operating at maximum efficiency. This form of motivation is always with you and is not dependent on any outside factors.
Secondly, you can be sure that exercise can be a lot of fun. As mentioned before, I think exercise is the healthiest and purest form of recreation available to humankind today and a radical shift in our cultural conditioning is sorely needed in this respect. The image of fitness has to be transformed from painful and boring running on a treadmill in a gym to challenging and enjoyable social sports events with friends. There is a myriad of sports available out there to suit everyone’s liking and fitness levels.
Personally, I never think of good looks as a motivation to exercise. My understanding of the crucial importance of exercise for optimal health has truly made daily exercise as natural as breathing. It simply must happen. And then of course I always make sure that exercise is as much fun as possible just to ensure that my healthy fitness environment is completely indestructible. Yes, it is fun to have solid sixpack abs and to feel completely comfortable in any clothing, but these are just small bonuses that come as a result of the ultimate prize: optimal health.
To further illustrate this point, the next four example posts will describe my active fitness environment as divided into the four categories discussed in a previous post: aerobic, anaerobic, flexibility and skills. I hope these examples will help you to set up something similar of your own.