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Match Your Workout Patterns with Your Personality

What’s stopping you from exercising regularly?

You might think it’s your schedule or your energy level.

But what if it’s simply a personality quirk—and there’s an easy fix?

Gretchen Rubin is a writer who studies happiness and habits. She developed the Four Tendencies to describe four primary personality types.

Upholders are easily able to meet both internal expectations (those they set for themselves) and external expectations (those that other people or outside forces set for them).

Obligers are easily able to meet external expectations but struggle to meet internal expectations.

Questioners are only able to meet an expectation if it is justifiable, makes sense to them, and alternative options have been researched and considered.

Rebels struggle to meet both internal and external expectations.

If you’re an upholder, you’re probably already committed to your routine. But if you’re not, you might need to approach exercise a different way.

For example: If you’re an obliger, simply planning to exercise isn’t enough. You need accountability. Consider hiring a personal trainer and scheduling appointments. That way, if you skip an appointment, you’re not just letting yourself down—you’re using up someone else’s time, too. You could also find a workout buddy. The two of you could plan to attend a group exercise class together or even share a personal trainer.

If you’re a questioner, you might benefit from trying several different types of exercise strategies to find one that makes sense to you. You won’t be able to force yourself to do exercise that feels ineffective. Bonus: a good personal trainer can help explain why certain strategies make sense. 

If you’re a rebel, you’re going to need to make it fun so exercise feels like a choice instead of an obligation. Try playing a sport like squash or basketball, or try a new, novel group fitness class.

Which type are you? You can take the quiz on Gretchen Rubin’s website. Once you understand your motivations, it can be easier than you might think to develop a new habit.