In life, variety seems to be good. Variety spices up life—in our diet, our friendships, our television shows and music, and for those who dare, in our love lives. Too much variety, however, in our exercise repertoire—jumping from spin class to Bombay Jam Bollywood to CrossFit, back to spin class, over to kick boxing—signals a misunderstanding of how exercise should fit into our lives.
Sticking to one plan offers lasting wellness benefits. We shouldn’t handle our exercise regimen like we approach online dating—ADHD trolling for a different match each night on Tinder, Hinge, or Grindr. Why are we so afraid to commit?
To beat fitness ADHD, you have to stop thinking about exercise class as a way to help you look good, and instead think of it as a way to help make you happy. One study suggests people start to exercise for weight loss or to improve their appearance but these motivations soon dissipate. Wheeling-and-dealing-behemoths like Groupon and LivingSocial, where fitness classes like Burlesque Bikini Bootcamp seem extraordinarily necessary with summer around the corner, distract us from understanding what exercise is really all about: What we believe in.
Your fitness Ritalin should be an exercise style you can absorb into your authentic self. Known as self-determination theory (SDT) in the field of sociology, a whole host of factors—within and beyond our control—exist to motivate or prevent us to exercise. In essence, you become self-determined or drawn towards certain forms of physical activity because they resonate with your core value system. According to this notion, you don’t take Mile High running club three times a week to improve your running or to look better in your new, hip chubbies shorts. Running and the philosophy of Mile High running club is who you are and what you believe in.
This means the right fitness style for you is also the one you feel over which you have total freedom of choice. After you whet your fitness palate and feed your ADHD (and FoMO) through such services as ClassPass, you need to choose something and stick to it. But if you’re pressured into a decision by a deal or because you feel the need to look better to conform to societal pressure, you won’t likely endure.
According to this idea, if you want to be thin like your co-workers who all spin, and you give it a try, but don’t like the cult fad surrounding your instructor Tristophé, you probably won’t last long at cycling to pop music. Your motivation in this case is external, fueled by cultural norms cast upon you. You gotta own your motivation and find a class that gets you jacked up about life, excited and moving. It has to become your thing.
Focus on the happiness-factor when choosing your one, true fitness love. Ditch thinking about the long-term, big-picture ways in which exercise improves heart-health, helps you lose weight, or reduces your chance of getting the cancer. Exercise is your elixir for joy and ever-lasting well-being; that hot, booming body is just a byproduct, not the goal.
For women, studies suggest that if you’re serious about committing to your fitness cause, you should focus on what contributes to your overall happiness right now. Your macho-macho-man may not be thinking of mental health when he signs up for CrossFit, but it’s safe to assume it’s one of the many benefits of finding your fitness calling—along with the bromances he’s forming at the “box.”
In my case, and after a long bout of fitness ADHD, I found the cure in a vinyasa yoga class taught by a guy named Sherman Morris. I’ve never felt so consistently renewed after my first few classes. I was ready to get serious.
I decided to give this yoga thing a shot in order to prove to myself that an inflexible, Aaron-Rodgers-and-Olivia-Munn-obsessed Wisconsin guy can get good at it. And so, to the soundtrack of the Pointer Sisters Jump For My Love and trust in Sherman, I slowly transformed into one supple, stronger dude. I never felt more fit and connected to my own wellness life journey.
While exercise classes are certainly good for our health, and offer multiple benefits as we age, committing to one style and making it the foundation to your entire wellness plan definitely has its benefits.
In the face of an ADHD-world where even Twitter isn’t fast enough to keep up, don’t be afraid to double down and commit. Forget what the Internet exercise matchmakers want you to believe; bikini body over that feel-good feeling? You can have both. But focusing on the latter is going to take you further down the wellness path in life. So remember the number one rule of exercise class: we are what we believe in. We don’t simply do an exercise class, we are the exercise class, and it should make us happy.