The Secrets of Success: Take the 'Work' Out of Your Workouts

By , SparkPeople Blogger
What are the secrets to lasting weight-loss success? As America's most popular weight-loss website, we've learned a thing or two (and it's not a magic potion or pill).

When we were researching and writing our best-selling book, The Spark, we discovered 27 secrets of success that thousands of successful SparkPeople members have used to reach their goals, lose weight and keep it off. Some secrets—including these—are too good to keep to yourself.

We're sharing our 15 favorite secrets of success on the dailySpark from March 1-15.

Secret #4: Make exercise fun.
Successful members proactively took steps to keep exercise fun. A whopping 64% made it a point to try new and different things. How else did they make exercise fun?

67% tried outdoor activities, 62% listened to fun music, and nearly 60% purposefully added variety to their workout plans. Other things that kept exercise fun were doing competitive activities (races, charity walks) and taking active vacations.

I may sound like Captain Obvious for saying it, but you're more likely to stick with a workout plan when you actually enjoy it. In fact, you may even enjoy it so much that you look forward to your exercise time instead of dreading it. Wouldn't that be a nice change of pace?

I think everyone is capable of finding joy through movement and physical activity. If you don't believe me, you just haven't found the right exercise yet. One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing trainers who treat workouts like punishment or people who think they need to force themselves to do exercises that are boring, painful or downright torturous. Who wants that? If you're going to make exercise a part of your lifestyle, you have to like what you're doing—or at least not loathe it. I can tell you with complete honesty that I only do workouts that I think are fun. Period. If I don't enjoy myself, there is no way am I going to force myself through it. Why? Because I know I won't stick with it, not even for one day. Luckily, I discovered Pilates, Spinning, running and kettlebells—activities that I really love doing day after day. I don't force myself to swim or practice yoga, no matter how beneficial they are or how much others may like them, because they just don't do it for me. There are no "shoulds" in my workout plan—only "wants." If you can make it so that you want to exercise, nothing will stop you!

If you haven't found ways to make exercise fun yet, take heart. SparkPeople is here to help. Check out the following resources for some great tips and ideas that will help you see exercise in a whole new light. How about you: Is this one of your secrets to success? Tell us about your favorite workouts and how you keep them fun and interesting!

Did you miss a secret? Find all the rest of the series of 15 here (a new one is posted every day through March 15). If you want even proven weight-loss secrets, The Spark features 12 more, plus a 28-day weight loss program that really works! Learn More

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NANCYPAT1 3/13/2020
Thanks Report
CATNAP6291 2/5/2020
good article Report
CHERYLHURT 12/25/2019
Great Report
Thanks! Report
I started doing things like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing as a reason to get outside in the winter. Now, I live for winter sports. Report
Absolutely great Report
Awesome- thanks! Report
My two favorites are yoga and running. Yoga centers me physically and mentally, and running is, well, my escape into my music, I suppose. I don't think about anything - I just enjoy having my own time. I realize they are strange for a huge extrovert like me, but there's a certain peace in doing my own thing, even if there are 10 or 20 others around me doing the same thing. However, I do have to admit that I'm a bit competitive; having others around me make me strive for more out of my body. Report
I listen to audio books on my MP3 player when I walk alone. Walking with friends is the best, though. Report
I enjoy exercise. I like the energy rush it gives me. I like to challenge myself, and do a variety of exercise. It's been my key to atleast maintain my weight even when my eatings not the best. Music plays a big part for me in keeping me motivated, and focused. It provides an outlet for my stress too, and is a big part of my life. Report
I have to have music no matter what I do for exercize. From cleaning house to walk/jog..... music music music Report
I completely agree with this article. Nine months ago, I would have been one to say that my active lifestyle (not fitness, but rarely sitting) would have to be enough since I detested exercise for exercise sake. THAT was before I started Jazzercise class. From that point forward I was hooked and wouldn't miss a class for anything! I also needed to find the time of day that worked well for me, and I discovered that the late afternoon "slump" time is the perfect time to join others for activity. Now, it's a rare day that I don't go to the gym between work and home, and typically take a group class which has expanded to include pilates, kick-boxing, group power, group active, spinning, etc.

For those of you who haven't found an exercise program that "calls your name" yet, I encourage you to keep looking. I'm guessing that there is something out there just for you! Report
My circuit training class at the gym, but I can't wait until it gets warmer so I can do some exercising in the pool. Report
i found myself realy enjoing swimming and looking forward to improve my time. i can do 1 mile in 45 min (good for old lady ,i think). now i want to add biking and maybe running to my exercise routine. i have got this idea that i can finish one of those short try-three triathlons. Report
My passion is bicycling, but I didn't have a good start. My husband loved bicycling, but I fought him every step of the way. When he got me on a bike, I first refused to wear bicycle shorts - and guess what? I was SO sore. I finally started to wear the shorts and it got better until I got cold because I had on the wrong tops - I was wearing cotton that gets cold and uncomfortable in wet weather. Again, he had to persuade me to get the right jerseys.

The event that really made me change my mind about bicycling is seeing an article for a trip with Bicycle Vermont - an inn-to-inn trip. I really wanted to do it. Of course my husband was wild about the idea, even though it was only 25-30 miles a day. To get ready for it, I got on my bike more. We adored the trip and it's been the first of tens of bicycle vacations - our favorite get-away! Report
I have golds gym, the GGX clases are fun & the instructors are so enthusiastic
and the music is fun. Report
I use netflix to get a variety of different workout dvds. I can rent them again if I like them. this way I get lots of variety. Report
Yes indeed, this is definitely one of my own "secrets"! With all the wonderful things a person can do to improve in strength, cardio, and mobility, why should anyone settle for an activity they hate????? Work doesn't have to be tedious; in all fields including exercise, those who love what they do usually are better at it. Report
Cross-country skiing...... I'm one of the few people praying for more snow! Report
I hate to exercise, like many people. Report
Yes on Wii Fit Plus - it's hard to get an intensive cardio workout that way, but it's good for balance and strength training (and if you create your own workouts, you don't have to spend so much time listening to stuff or watching the score before/after each activity). EA Active for Wii is more like a workout video, I gather (not having used any workout videos myself!), if you use the 30 Day Challenge mode. And DDR for Wii is a good way to get your heartbeat up, especially if you use the workout modes. Report
I switch on my tv, go to my favourite channel - Animax! - and start to jump rope! Maybe after this, I'll buy that new Sony mp3 player with embedded speaker, hehe Report
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Wii Fit Plus yet. It is fun!! Your personal trainer is very encouraging. Lots of health tips as you go, and it tracks calories, BMI, weight, etc. There is so much to choose from, Yoga, Aerobic, Strength Traingin and my favorite, Balance games. (In my PJs and socks, I workout) Report
I used to try running every day because it was good for me, but honestly, I hated it. Then I did some "research" on Google and found somewhere a site that said the best cardio exercise is the one you stick with. I dropped running like a hot potato -- I just like cycling so much better. I often do it as a low-intensity endurance exercise with my favorite magazine so it feels like "me" time. Oddly enough, though, when I want to do sprints, I think there's nothing better than my own two feet, so I cycle for endurance and run for sprints. I also found that I enjoy lifting weights, but it's got to be the heavy ones and lower reps so I feel like I actually accomplished something. Light weights just don't do anything for me. Report
I had to chuckle when I saw this right on the heels of "Don't forget your Strength Training". There are few things I detest more than dragging myself out of bed to go lift weights. I love doing cardio in just about any form, but I have yet to find a resistance exercise that I can stand for more than a week or two. I've tried adding music or different types, doing it with a friend, changing up my exercises, taking a class, hiring a trainer, etc. and nothing helps. Any tips? It's gotten to the point where I only do resistance training once every couple weeks or so because otherwise I make excuses not to go to the gym. Report
Coach Nicole, thanks! So yes, cycling it is my favorite exercise of choice. I also love the gym, water, and other forms of exercise. I like to listen to music at the gym or riding an indoor cycling trainer. Spinning is a good tool but I can't do that yet (flywheel and hip replacement & multi-level spinal fusion). With my rehab I have come to learn how important stretching and flexibility is. Spending time doing a long stretch can be easier with music and a loud timer.

My purpose for this journey is to get my cycling form back. My cycling friends are all waiting for me to return. I see them at the gym often and just knowing they are keeping an eye on me is a plus. Report
I can't exercise a lot because of medical problems. I like to walk so I go to the mall or just a walk around a large store even when I have nothing to buy. When it is good weather I try and get out and walk down by the river or at a park. I love music so when I hear an upbeat song I try and dance around some. When fixing dinner I try and do stretches. Report
I was at the YMCA last night and heard some wild music eminating from a room. Here there were 25 stationary bike with 25 wild and crazy people have the time of their life peddling as fast as they could go to the music. Lighting was in Blacklights..hummmm Report
I totally try to make my workouts as non-monotonous as possible. Coach Nicole, you and I are opposites because the only spin class I can get to starts at 5:45 and with my fitness goals/training, I just don't have time to spend on spinning! I prefer to swim instead, because no matter what, I always feel great after a swim. Thanks for your blog, and thanks for encouraging us to find what we enjoy and to stick with it. (I bet you'd be a great swimmer, though! Long arms, long legs -- maybe if you're looking to shake things up a bit, and think about swimming, join a Masters Swim workout near you ( -- places to swim). I find that swimming with people is the big thing that makes or break a fun swim workout! No pressure though. I just love swimming


Great blog. Report
I do a lot of what has been said already, try to make it fun, but I still have my days at the gym and I do them before work. I just get up and go, without thinking about it. I work in an office and a year or so ago I got a ball to sit on. I can do strength training at my desk and just sitting on the ball strengthens my core muscles. It works! Report
I am blessed to be part of a group of 5 women who have been exercising together for nearly 13 years (at 5:30am!). We have become very close and supportive. We challenge each other, motivate each other, and keep the boredom levels down. We do strength training 2 days a week and cardio workouts 3 days a week. Although we have our old "standby" workouts, we frequently change the workouts. The key for us? Having other people that are counting on you to be there! Report
While I will continue to exercise because of how good it feels afterwards, I will never like to work out. The thinsg that I enjoy are simply sedentary things. Curling up with a good book, watching movies, scrapbooking, sewing, etc.

I would much rather get the benefits of exercise without having to do it! But I know that it is necessary and I love that boost of energy I feel after. So it will continue to be a part of my daily life. Report
My favorite exercise is swimming and just getting in the pool and playing with my kids. Its so much fun that it doesnt seem like exercise at all but yet its a great calorie burner! Report
Music works for me. Report
I'm a firm believer that exercise should be fun ! I love spinning and cycling. To keep that interesting, I'm always changing my music. I love listening to good music when workintout.

I'd love to take dance lessons some time. that would be fun too. Report
In spring, summer and fall I love walking/running and biking outdoors. But in the winter, it's not possible for me, so I ride my excercise bike each morning before work. Since everyone else is out of the house then, I watch favorite "chick flicks" and BBC dramas while I ride. That way I really look forward to my's the only time of day I get control of the TV! Report
Last year I discovered aqua fitness, and I had so much fun with it - and felt so good while doing it - that I focused on the feeling as the fun. Now I have fun trying new, more challenging workouts at home (Leslie Sansone, Chris Freytag, Pilates and Yoga), and am looking forward to training for an upcoming 5K - my first! The ultimate enjoyment for me is getting successfully through something I couldn't do before (like the tabletop and teacup poses in Pilates) - what a rush! Report
This is so true for me my sister started me here on sparks and even though she lives 2 hrs away for me we still talk about our goals and what we have done. if it wernt for her getting me started i would have never done this so having a partner in this with you really helps alot and also changing and mixing your workouts helps a great deal Report
I totally agree! Report
I like to try different things. I enjoy walking and I work with a personal trainer for my strength training (arguing with her can be a lot of fun, people actually stop and watch). I try different styles of yoga. I do zumba and am doing pole dancing again this winter. I have done belly dancing and aquafit in the past. You have to be adventurous and willing to try new things. You never know what you might find fun and worth continuing! Report
I have to work during the day, so even though I've built a gym in my finished downstairs, I'm like many of you who are perplexed as to when to have time to workout. But I work from my home office, so I enjoy WEARING WEIGHTS through the day. I switch them so I don't get too tired: the weight vest, wrist and hand weights and ankle weights. Something about wearing them just makes me WANT TO MOVE, and it's fun to me. I LOVE reading all your tips, everyone! I'm looking forward to trying some of them . . the hula hoop and more! =) Report
I agree with using music to motivate. I have lots of upbeat moving songs on my IPOD and it makes me move so much faster. I even walk a little further when I'm listening to music then I would if I was just walking without. Report
The best gift I ever got was an I Pod - I love listening to my favorite music when I walk. Makes the time go by so much more quickly. And when I listen to a comedy CD on the I Pod while I'm walking I'm sure I look crazy as I walk along and laugh out loud! Report
I sign up for group activities at the gym. Currently I'm taking a class called Women on Weights. Next week my husband and I will begin a class where we work with a trainer but "compete" against each other to see who can lose more inches and pounds. I also do kickboxing. It's all so much fun and I enjoy being with friends while I work out! Report
I agree with this article and I would add that you need a fun group or at least a fun partner/trainer with your fun activity! Report
Making exersize fun is what made me lose all the weight. I dreaded the stair master that my friend suggested and quit so many times because I was sticking to one machine. I discovered strength training, zumba, pilates, yoga, power sculpt, running, kickboxing...and switch it up everyday. I love to workout! Best advice if you really want to lose the pounds. Report
It is important to make exercise and any daily lifestyle change fun! I love the hula hoop and what's nice is that you can do it outdoors or indoors... :) have fun and you will succeed... Report
I tap dance with a group of seniors and we have a ball. We even dance in the recital and bring down the house. Tap dancing is not only good for the cardio, it keeps our minds alert too. So put a little fun in your life and try dancing. Report