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Discover the Perfect Workout for Your Fitness Personality!

34SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
3/27/2009 12:00 AM   :  327 comments

Dragging yourself to Spinning class each night? Having trouble waking up for those morning workouts (you know, the ones you vowed to stick with this time around)? Tired of walking on the treadmill by yourself?

Having difficulty sticking to a fitness routine is a reality of most of us. If it were easy to exercise regularly, we would all be the epitome of fitness! Here's a new idea: Stop blaming yourself for lacking the willpower to stick to it. Instead, blame your workout! If you're trying to force yourself to take fitness classes or clock in 2 hours a day at the gym, your workout—not yourself—could be the problem. How do you know?

Ask yourself this question: Do your workouts fit your personality?

Linda Shelton, a veteran author, editor and fitness expert, has identified five distinct personality types for exercisers. And she should know. With over 25 years in the fitness industry and a recent induction into the National Fitness Hall of Fame (yes, that does exist!), she used her experience to define the five fitness personalities , which she recently presented at the American College of Sports Medicine's Health and Fitness Summit. Put simply, stop working against your true nature and use it to find the best workout for you.

Are you ready to find out which of the five types is most like you (and how you can use that knowledge to find your perfect workout)?

Here's a summary of Shelton's five fitness personality types (classified as shapes). Keep in mind that many people may be a combination of more than one type.

Squares
Of all five fitness personalities, squares are "the most reliable, stable and predictable," Shelton says. They like to plan everything and prefer to stick to a routine. Generally, "squares" tend to work in the math and science fields (think engineers) and be less social around other people.

  • Pitfalls: According to Shelton, squares like to do the same routine so long, often sticking with the same schedule, that they hit plateaus. If you ask me, squares probably tend to have problems if their routine gets out of whack—it's all or nothing. (Plan B? No thanks!)
  • Perks: The fact that squares are so committed to routine is good when it comes to exercise. They're more likely to schedule their workouts and stick with their routine for the long term.
  • Tips for Squares: Don't be afraid to change up your routine. Shelton advised Squares to “take baby steps toward sprinkling in new activities weekly that switch up their routines while still giving them the familiarity of the old program.” If that's not possible, stick to your workout plan for 4-6 weeks, then change it and follow the new routine for several weeks—you'll get the best of both worlds.

Rectangles
Rectangles are slightly more flexible than Squares, but still like order and routine. "They love groups, and perform best with social interaction," according to Shelton.

  • Pitfalls: Rectangles are likely to work out alone, even though they do better in groups, and that can hinder their ability to stick with the program.
  • Perks: Being more flexible than a square means it's not the end of the world if something interferes with a Rectangle's workout plan. They'll go to plan B or find something else to do instead.
  • Tips for Rectangles: If you haven't already, join a gym, running group or fitness class, says Shelton. It has schedule and social interaction all in one place!

Triangles
Triangles are competitive and driven. They're organized and keep detailed lists. They can probably even tell you (by turning to their handy workout journal) exactly how many repetitions they did on the leg press machine eight months ago, along with the weight they used. Triangles love to monitor their progress (scales, measurements, weight lifted, miles ran) and appreciate all of their successes.

  • Pitfalls: No amount of tracking will keep you going if you don't have a higher goal in mind. Without a goal, like a race or competition, Triangles will have a hard time sticking with it and staying motivated.
  • Perks: All that detail is great! Triangles will look for successes everywhere. Even if you're not seeing it on the scale, you could look at your logs and see improvements in your measurements, endurance, or consistency!
  • Tips for Triangles: Shelton suggests that Triangles pair up with a workout buddy who is competitive like they are. Set a higher goal, too, so you can train for something. A race walk, marathon, triathlon or figure competition might be just the ticket to help you stick with it!

Circles
Emotions drive Circles; they're the social butterflies at the gym, too.
  • Pitfall: While you may get yourself to the gym, you're more likely to socialize with your workout buddy than make good use of your time. Because they're emotional and care about others, Circles tend to put themselves at the bottom of their own to-do lists.
  • Perks: Caring for others and socializing at the gym can be a good thing! All that camaraderie gets you there regularly, which is more than most people do!
  • Tips for Circles: Shelton suggests that Circles find a workout buddy or trainer who is nurturing and motivating, but won't push you too hard. Group fitness classes are perfect for circles because they can be part of the group, yet they have to follow the routine. If you're putting everyone's needs above your own, take steps to make yourself a priority, too.

Squigglies
Squigglies (love that name!) are very outgoing and do not like structure. "They are the complete opposite of squares and hate routine," explains Shelton. Squigglies are all about fun and pleasure—if they don't enjoy what they're doing (exercising or otherwise), they'll quit!

  • Potential pitfall: Without a constant variety of workout options coming your way, Squigglies are likely to get bored and drop out of a workout program.
  • Perks: You're not likely to plateau with such a varied workout routine, and you're more likely to find activities that you truly enjoy versus forcing yourself to make it through a boring workout that you hate. You're also likely to try new things!
  • Tips for Squigglies: Shelton says, "Squigglies should try an extremely varied routine that includes lots of different classes and new activities to maintain interest in exercise."

I can definitely see a little of myself in each of these. On one hand, I'm a Square. I'm totally predictable, organized, and efficient and I love schedules and lists. But that describes my professional life more than my workout routine. To be honest, when it comes to exercise, I'm the total opposite—I'm a Squiggly! I really don't even have a routine! I have to like what I'm doing or I won't do it. I love to try new things and I never do the same workout twice. When it comes to fitness, I'm really flexible. I'll pack my gym bag for Spinning after work, but if I’m not feeling it, I'll head home and run or workout with a new DVD instead. Although the other areas of my life are planned and controlled (as much as possible), exercise is one area where I'm totally laid back--probably much to my own (mental) benefit!

Your turn! Which fitness personality sounds most like you? Does your workout routine line up with your shape?


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Comments

  • 327
    I'm a Square and an Introvert. Going to a gym and being around a lot of people kills my energy. Group exercises make me want to run in the opposite direction...alone! I really wish Sparkpeople would make more available to our demographic. Introversion is a wonderful thing. It's not a disease or a symptom of depression or due to emotional issues. It is a way of being every bit as valid as extroversion. We're just quieter about it. - 8/19/2014   6:51:12 PM
  • KZINRRET
    326
    I'm a Square-Triangle supposedly. An interesting mix of shapes, but as an artist, I think it fits (I stink at Math so no engineering for me, lol). I was considering rectangle, instead of square, since I am quite flexible, but I have a strong dislike for group settings and I'm pretty anti-social so square it is.

    I'm not competitive, but I chart everything - workout stats, step counts, weigh ins, measurements... my hubby calls me obsessive-compulsive and I have to agree with him. I like seeing progress and without my charts I wouldn't know my weight can flux almost 4 pounds either way (a real freak-out causer) yet I'm 10.8 pounds lighter since I started in January. Every little bit of progress pushes me to keep going and I have plenty of goals for each stat so I'll not hit that pitfall even without a workout buddy.

    I like having schedules and plans (I tend to be unfocused without them), but as a mom of a toddler, I've learned a well-made plan can go poof very easily, so plan b (and c, d, e, and f) are ready and waiting daily. If it rains, treadmill instead of outside walk. Can't do my usual 3-4 miles today? Shoot for a mile and see if I can do more later. Not up to exercising at all? Do some cleaning up around the house to get my step count up as well as get stuff done. I also tend to adjust my workout schedule regularly, mainly to make it easier to stick to and to account for the change in weather, so I don't believe I'll hit those pitfalls either. - 5/21/2014   3:29:21 PM
  • 325
    Haha, I'm such a square. I do plan on adding in some new exercises like yoga to my routine. :) - 11/25/2013   10:38:11 PM
  • 324
    Squiggly. - 11/24/2013   7:52:48 PM
  • 323
    I'm a square leaning toward rectangle. I like to have a plan/schedule because I'm less likely to "opt out" if I'm signed up at a specific time. I really like taking classes because I feel more motivated when working with others and will stick with it longer. Some exercises I prefer to do on my own though...like elliptical. - 11/15/2013   9:03:43 PM
  • 322
    I'm a square. I'm also an introvert so I gain strength by working out alone not with others. - 11/12/2013   1:32:43 PM
  • 321
    I am SUCH a Squiggles! - 9/17/2013   12:43:58 AM
  • 320
    I am so a squigglie and a rectangle - 3/7/2013   5:14:14 PM
  • GHOTIB
    319
    I am a squiggle, a triangle, and a square--in that order. I have to have fun to participate in something. Secondly, I need competition--even if it's only to better my own 'score' or prior experience. Thirdly, I am unchanging if at all possible. Why fix something that isn't broken? If I'm having fun and seeing increasing success, I'm not going to stop. - 10/4/2012   10:09:19 PM
  • 318
    SQUIGGLY!!! - 9/24/2012   10:16:44 AM
  • 317
    I'm a Squiggly Square! LOL! - 7/8/2012   12:27:31 AM
  • 316
    I'm a rectangle! Though some days I'm a squigglie :) - 5/25/2012   8:33:03 PM
  • HERE2BME
    315
    I am such a square! No doubt about it! - 5/3/2012   11:09:58 AM
  • SHRADDHA2323
    314
    i am circle
    - 4/6/2012   11:51:49 AM
  • 313
    No doubt about it, I'm a rectangle with square tendencies (all or nothing, don't mess with my routine). The fact that I'm an Engineer just solidifies my square status :0*
    - 2/1/2012   10:45:42 AM
  • 312
    I'm a triangle... I used to go to the gym every morning with a friend. She'd push me and I'd push her. Now we don't have the same opportunity, and I go by myself but some days I just dread it and will skip out. I think I definitely need a workout buddy... - 10/25/2011   10:04:00 AM
  • 311
    I"m definately a squigly for one I do love the name, and I can't do the same work out in a row... for instance when I step outside for a walk I have to try a different route every time, eventhough I live in the middle of my block... I'll start walking the opposite direction from the previous walk, and I'll snake through the other side streets in a different order... I like seeing things from different perspectives... I've actually started keeping multipe trackers just to keep myself motivated to track... I like the ability to jump around and see my progress in chart, and spread sheet forms... Crazy I know... but so far it's kept me working out, and tracking... and that's all that really matters... One day at a time... going for the goal, but always looking from a different view. - 9/20/2011   11:48:04 PM
  • 310
    I am a SQUIGGLES...... - 9/2/2011   1:57:19 PM
  • 309
    I am the same as mentioned in the article. In my professional life I am no doubt a square but all other aspects if my life are squiggly :) I definitely get bored of one workout all the time! - 6/14/2011   10:41:53 AM
  • SOULOFADANCER
    308
    I'm a rectangle!!
    I think that's right - 6/5/2011   2:32:11 PM
  • 307
    I am a circle for sure. Everyone comes first before me. - 5/29/2011   9:20:41 PM
  • MYHEALTHYEARS
    306
    I think I'm a square squigglie - I plan to the extreme degree, (the engineer in me) but then if I don't feel like doing it, I don't get it done. I dislike groups, competition & routine. I prefer to exercise alone, but lack the motivation to get it done. Having a tough time getting started. - 5/21/2011   9:27:09 PM
  • 305
    I'm totally a squigglie!!! I have to do something different everyday... I've been trying bike riding at a park with a looped bike trail, to switch it up, i start in the opposite direction than I did the day before, just to get a different perspective/view of the sites... Yes its a circle, but it has different sides to it... also, I treat myself on fridays... it's my exploration day... either I go somewhere new, or Itry something different!!! It keeps me motivated, and on my toes. - 5/21/2011   3:01:28 AM
  • 304
    I'm a Triangle all the way. - 5/21/2011   2:02:34 AM
  • 303
    i think i'm a triangle/squigglie - 5/19/2011   11:50:45 AM
  • MYDOGJAX
    302
    I think I'm more of a square/triange combo. I plan and like order, yet I"m competitive and look for improvement. - 5/1/2011   11:27:02 AM
  • 301
    Squigglie - Rectangle i really like going to classes but tend to get bored and want to go one to something new. I find myself talking more to my work out buddy than actually working out! - 4/17/2011   11:44:26 PM
  • WESTERN_RIDER
    300
    I am a total Squiggly when it comes to working out. I thought that signing up for my first 5K would help me to get on a good workout schedule and work toward a goal--no. My brain is saying, "But I don't wanna run every day! I wanna take a spinning class and a Zumba class and a dance class..." I'm glad it's not just me. My fiance is most definitely a rectangle, and he just doesn't get why I get so tired of running. :) - 4/14/2011   9:21:59 AM
  • 299
    I'm a Squiggly too, and like you, Nicole, I'm much more structured in other parts of my life. I hate exercise ruts and have finally embraced what motivates me - learning and trying new things. This year I bought a fitness coupon book instead of a gym membership, and am trying new classes every week. I love the challenge! - 3/2/2011   12:42:27 PM
  • TIMSEAMAN
    298
    If you would like more information on racewalking, check out two books from racewalkclinic.com, they are: Race Walk Faster by training smarter, and Race Walk Clinic in a book. - 2/3/2011   10:32:47 PM
  • 297
    I think I'm a square/triangle; obsessed with numbers! Could definitely benefit by setting goals and mixing up my routine! - 1/6/2011   5:01:03 AM
  • 296
    ~ /_\ Squigglie Triangle! I hate routine but track everything under the sun. My work as well as exercise is all about tracking. The more details I track the better action plan I can develop..

    I hated the structure of HS but loved the freedom of college/law school. The entire topic of schedules and routines was a source of argument between my brother and myself earlier this week. I can not believe I stumbled upon the article today, how apropos! - 12/8/2010   3:09:58 PM
  • ACERENO
    295
    I think I am more of a rectangle. I like exercising with a group and I am flexible as far as the activities I do throughout the week. But I am unwilling to give up my step class. I enjoy it too much! Perhaps that makes me a bit of a square? I do get upset when I miss step. Thankfully they are twice a week. As long as I make it to one class I am a happy girl :) - 12/4/2010   6:48:18 PM
  • 294
    HAHAHA!! I am a total Squigglie when it comes to my workout routine!!! :P - 12/3/2010   5:10:54 PM
  • MYOWNBESTFAN
    293
    Im a Rectangle...thanks for the info...this will help me a lot! - 12/3/2010   2:00:07 PM
  • 292
    Totally Rectangle!!! Makes sense. I love running on my own, but I always push myself more with a friend. And love going to Yoga and feel so dedicated going to every single class. I think I will spice up the workout routine! - 6/25/2010   9:18:33 AM
  • 291
    Rectangle - usually work out alone but truly enjoy my running "peeps" and groups - they help me run longer and faster than when I'm by myself! - 6/23/2010   9:14:43 AM
  • 290
    Little bit of all of them. Mostly a rectangle. - 6/23/2010   9:11:57 AM
  • 289
    I'm a squiggly triangular Rectangle!
    The only thing square about me is my math/science nature.
    I am NOT round!! till I get tired and want a rest from my workout! lol
    AKA DISTRACTED! - 5/15/2010   1:23:59 AM
  • C-MERRIE11
    288
    TOTAL Squiggle! My routine used to have no rhyme or reason and I am a real free-wheeler. Right now I have a running routine that has enough variety to keep me interested and I have blown myself away by having stuck with it for several months! Of course, I include loads of cross training to keep it exciting. - 5/10/2010   9:34:20 AM
  • 287
    I am a total square! I'm even an engineer! I take the same walk every day at lunch down the same road. I used to ride my bike to work, every day, but after two years, I got to the point where I felt like it was a burden and stopped riding almost completely. I better mix things up before I burn out on walking; seems like I only have about 18 months left! - 5/4/2010   11:40:21 AM
  • 286
    rectangle for me. - 5/4/2010   10:48:51 AM
  • CHUNK40
    285
    Have to go with a rectangle for myself. - 5/4/2010   9:06:51 AM
  • FANESSLADYRED
    284
    I'm Triangles - 5/3/2010   10:31:25 PM
  • 283
    I'm part Square and part Squigglie. I'm an introvert, not extrovert. But I've got to like it and have variety or I won't do it. However, I need the Square structure to provide accountability to do it, whatever "it" turns out to be from day to day. I created a "menu" of lots of different options in my fitness favorites list so I can always find something that sounds fun. But I also made a promise to myself to do some exercise within 90 minutes of waking every day, and to get in a certain amount of cardio every day, and those "rules" are the Square support I need. - 5/3/2010   10:25:46 PM
  • 282
    mostly Rectangles .. - 5/3/2010   10:01:14 AM
  • 281
    Interesting article....I'm a little of everything, but mostly a rectangle. Love the info! - 5/3/2010   9:35:45 AM
  • 280
    i am a square.. wow that is me to the T !!!! - 5/3/2010   5:51:53 AM
  • 279
    I'm a squiggly...have to love what I'm doing and have a variety of exercise routines. - 5/2/2010   3:54:23 PM
  • CECSAV
    278
    i'm half square, half squigglie... i'm not at all outgoing, and i like to schedule my life, but i get bored very easily - 4/30/2010   6:11:42 PM

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