Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

What Workout is Best for Your Personality Type?

Understanding the nature of your personality comes  in handy for landing the  perfect job or fine-tuning your communication skills  with your partner. But did  you ever consider the role your personality type  plays in determining your  fitness tastes?

“Understanding these nuances and tailoring  your fitness regimen accordingly  give you a major head start on the path to  success,” says Suzanne Brue, MS, a  longtime Myers-Briggs practitioner and author  of The 8 Colors of Fitness (Oakledge Press,  2008).

“Research suggests that people who engage in personality-appropriate   activities will stick with the activities longer, enjoy their workout more  and  ultimately have a greater overall fitness experience,” says Susan Davis-Ali,   PhD, a researcher who developed a fitness interest profile test for Life Time   Fitness. (Take Davis-Ali’s quiz at www.lifetimefitness.com/fip.)

Though  not the first to dig into the topic of fitness and personality, Brue is the  first to create a system based on the principles of the  Myers-Briggs Type  Indicator (MBTI) assessment. Brue took the MBTIs — Introversion (I) or  Extraversion (E), Intuition (N) or Sensing (S), Thinking  (T) or Feeling (F), and  Judging (J) or Perceiving (P) — and reworked them into  an easily maneuverable  color-coded fitness personality model.

Get to Know Yourself

If you’ve ever taken an MBTI assessment and you  remember your resulting  four-letter type, you can skip to the type-associated  descriptions on the  following pages. If not, you can get quick results by using  Brue’s online  color-coded fitness assessment at www.the8colors.com.

A little  background: The MBTI investigates whether you’re an extrovert,  (“E”– drawing more  energy from the outside world) or an introvert (“I” — getting energized from within);  whether you process information through  intuition (“N”  – trusting flashes of insight)  or through sensing (“S”  – seeking out hard facts and sensory data); whether you’re a  thinker (“T”  – meaning you tend to be more detached and analytical in decision-making)   or a feeler (“F”  – meaning you tend to be more personal and empathic when  making up  your mind); and whether you lean toward judging (“J” — indicated by a  desire for  defined decisions and closure) or perceiving (“P”  – denoting  those who prefer to keep  their options open longer). Often people recognize  their type when they hear it  described, Brue notes, so even reading the  descriptions of the personality  categories can help you identify yours.

To  help you get to know your fitness type, we’ve outlined each of the eight  fitness  colors below. Read the descriptions, take Brue’s 8 Colors quiz online  and try  out some activities that best suit your personality. “You might even  discover  you are well suited for a sport that you never even thought of  trying,” says  Davis-Ali.

  • Blues (ISTJ, ISFJ) are safety-conscious, and good at  creating their own space and  concentrating in a gym.
  • Golds (ESTJ, ESFJ) are traditional, conservative, and like  to  share their exercise experiences and results with others.
  • Greens (ISTP, ISFP) are nature  lovers who enjoy outdoor  activities.
  • Reds (ESTP, ESFP) like to live in the moment and  compete  in team sports.
  • Whites (INTJ, INFJ) prefer to plan, hate to be rushed and  are  visionary types who enjoy calm spaces.
  • Saffrons (INTP, INFP) like to express themselves as   individuals and are attracted to spontaneous, engaging activities.
  • Purples (ENTJ, ENFJ) are routine-oriented and enjoy  repetition.
  • Silvers (ENTP, ENFP) like exercise to be  disguised as  fun.

True Blue (ISTJ, ISFJ) – Tried and True

Blues are loyal, traditional,  dependable and straightforward. They are  committed and conscientious, especially  about safety and consistency. “You’ll  see Blues habitually using the same gym  equipment all the time,” notes Brue. “They like to monitor their heart rate and  keep track of their progress.” They  also like to create their own space and are  likely to read books or magazines  while on a treadmill.

Motivation: Blues  will benefit from keeping a training log  or wearing a pedometer or heart-rate  monitor. They like familiarity and  cleanliness and will prefer an exercise space  or gym that is organized, safe,  predictable and clean.

Suggested Activities: Rowing, running, walking, yoga,  interval training.

Gold Standard (ESTJ, ESFJ) – Just the Facts

Golds are traditional and  conservative. They trust the suggestions of  authority figures such as doctors,  fitness instructors or personal trainers.  They rely on proven methods to achieve  the results they desire. “It’s  especially important to Golds to work out in  a friendly, positive environment,” Brue says. They get attached to certain  classes and teachers they like and may  quit a class if their favorite instructor  leaves. Golds also value precision.  They want to be sure that they’re executing  correct form at all times.

Motivation: Golds will benefit from setting clear,  specific  goals and from having good, accessible fitness role models. They should  make a  point of telling others about their results and successes. “Be careful in  large  group classes,” Brue warns, “since your desire to interact with others  might  detract from your workout.”

Suggested Activities: Swimming, Pilates,  yoga, tennis,  one-on-one personal training, hiking (with a goal, such as  reaching all the  highest peaks in your region).

Roaring Red (ESTP, ESFP) – Now!

Reds are quick responders with high energy.  They like to be where the action  is, living in the moment. “Reds never zone out  and disengage during a workout,” Brue says. You won’t see them reading a book or  watching TV while on a  treadmill. In fact, you’ll rarely see them on  treadmills at all, she says — because Reds find them boring.

Motivation: Friendly competition is a great motivator for  Reds. Pickup basketball games,  beach volleyball, mountain-bike rides with pals — these are the activities that  sound fun to them — and fun is essential. If  you’re a Red, stock your trunk with  equipment to keep exercise an exciting,  entertaining and easily accessible part  of each day.

Suggested Activities: Basketball, tennis, racquetball,  in-line  skating, Frisbee, mountain biking, soccer, skiing.

Going Green (ISTP, ISFP) – Nature Beckons

For Greens, the desire to be outdoors overrides all  other motivations to  exercise. They prefer to be alone and are in tune to all  the vivid details of  the natural world. “Greens are great navigators,” Brue  says. You won’t see them  in gyms very often unless they’re working toward a  specific goal, such as  training for a mountain climb or backpacking trip. In  doing her research, Brue  met a few Greens who trained on a stairclimber while  wearing a weighted  backpack to more closely replicate their climbing  experiences.

Motivation: Greens should look for appealing outdoor  challenges  and keep time open in their schedules for adventure. Set a goal — say, a  mountain peak or charity bike ride — put it on your calendar, and begin  training  for it. Consider joining a local outdoor club that takes regular trips  in your  region.

Suggested Activities: Hiking, orienteering, backpacking,  mountain or  road cycling, kayaking, rock climbing, windsurfing.

Quick Silver (ENTP, ENFP) – Fluid and Flexible

Silvers are energized by new  ideas and possibilities. They readily embrace  novel concepts and  opportunities. Group-fitness instructors are often Silvers,  Brue observes. Music  and a fun atmosphere often energize them. But if something  interrupts their  flow, they can get distracted and look for something more   interesting.

Motivation: Silvers do best with convenient workouts that   maintain constant momentum and demand constant focus. Weight training, with its   starts and stops and weight changes, may prove distracting. “If you’ve planned   to attend a noon yoga class, don’t check your email one last time before you   walk out the door — you’re too likely to get thrown off track and skip the   workout entirely,” Brue advises. Another suggestion: Show up at the gym in your   workout clothes, ready to go.

Suggested Activities: Tai chi, bicycling or  jogging with a  group, Zumba, Nia, yoga, group-cycling classes, ChiRunning,  Nordic skiing.

Saffron (INTP, INFP) – Making Workouts Into Play

Saffrons strive for  clarity, vision and truth in all that they do. They’re  represented by a burnt  orange hue that commands attention in a warm,  comfortable way, without glitz or  extravagance. Saffrons are bored easily and  struggle with motivation if they  aren’t in the mood for something. They enjoy  being around like-minded  people.

Motivation: Music and location are huge motivators for   Saffrons. They go for classes that sound challenging, and it’s important to them  to find fitness instructors whose personalities appeal to them. If you’re a   Saffron, consider seeking out multiple workout environments (fitness clubs,   cycling studios, dance studios). Ideally, find a few options near home and near  work so it’s easy to work out whenever the mood strikes. When  you’re on a cardio  machine, listen to favorite tunes and cover up the display  so you don’t see your  results until the end — watching the miles and calories  slowly tick away can  take the fun out of your routine

Suggested Activities: Music-filled  classes such as group  cycling, Body & Soul, Zumba, Nia, yoga, dancing  (salsa, belly, ballroom,  jazz, folk — whatever appeals).

White Canvas (INTJ, INFJ) – Visionaries

Whites have a connection to  their  subconscious that yields an endless stream of ideas and abstractions.  They’re a  blank canvas, receptive and creative. “Whites like to zone out and  let their  minds wander,” Brue says. They’re independent and crave familiarity  and routine  in their workouts so they don’t have to think too hard about what  their bodies  are doing. They often find it hard to adjust to unexpected   changes.

Motivation: Whites are best off hitting the gym during  off-peak  hours so that they can have space to relax and zone out without  talking to  people. Tuning in to a custom MP3 playlist or TV screen can help  free your mind.  You’re best off avoiding personal trainers or classes that  require intense  verbal instruction or interaction because you may feel jarred  by  interruptions.

Suggested Activities: Hiking, running, yoga, cardio,  strength  training alone at the gym.

Royal Purple (ENTJ, ENFJ) – Pursuers With a Plan

Purples are outgoing and  confident, and although  they’re extroverted, they often thrive when they keep  interaction to a minimum  during workouts or limit it to a regular workout buddy.  They always have a plan  and aren’t easily deterred from their goals. “They can  walk into an unfamiliar  gym and easily figure out what they need to do,” Brue  notes. But their routines  can get stale over time without their noticing, and  they need help bumping up  the intensity to achieve their goals.

Motivation: Purples like uncomplicated routines that are  easy to replicate, such as 20  minutes of cardio followed by 20 minutes of  strength training. To avoid plateaus  and overuse injuries, try new machines and  train a variety of muscle groups each  workout. Map out what you plan to do  ahead of time so you feel confident and  focused. Occasionally bump up the  incline or speed, or hire a trainer to push  you further. If you have the space,  set up a home gym or workout area so you can  exercise more frequently.

Suggested Activities: Lap swimming, cardio and  strength  training, running, cycling. As fitness-personality typing catches on, both  Brue and Davis-Ali expect that  gyms nationwide will include it as part of their  fitness evaluations and  personal training. They predict it will become as  important as checking body  composition and heart rate. But unlike more  scientific measures of success,  fitness-personality evaluations are closely  linked to enjoyment. And isn’t that  what exercise should really be about?

By Gina DeMillo Wagner, Experience Life

(Writer Gina DeMillo Wagner is a classic Gold — outgoing yet traditional — and  enjoys one-on-one Pilates lessons.)

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness  publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic  lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in  favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com   to learn more and to sign  up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe  to the print or digital version.
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