Exercise Is Like Dating: It’s All About Commitment

I’ve been thinking about commitment a lot recently, and it’s come to mind that exercise and dating actually have a lot in common.  There are some tried-and-true practices, while there are others that unwind in beautiful chaos and disorder.  Today, we’ll talk about better ‘dating’ in the fitness landscape, so you’re not single forever.


Let’s better understand what exercise and dating have in common, as there are some ‘camps’ that I think make some really great stereotypes:

  • Barbells only, compound movements only, 3 days per week = High school sweetheart
  • Running only, 60 minutes daily before work = High school sweetheart
  • Commercial gym with a variety of class offerings = Greek life in college
  • 1-on-1 personal training or nothing else = Millionaire Matchmaker
  • Different workout class every night, 8 days per week = Tinder
  • Deviate from current plan as soon as something ‘new’ pops up = Everyone’s 2nd ex.

If you need convincing that there isn’t a “perfect” program for everyone, simply remember that there isn’t a perfect partner for everyone.  That’s okay!  When two people find their matching puzzle pieces it’s magic, and not all that different from finding a deep and meaningful relationship with your exercise program.  That begets the question, “What is deep and meaningful?”


It’s been years after I first saw him speak, but I was first inspired by TRX’s Fraser Quelch during a talk about program design. Fraser said, and I’ll paraphrase, “The best program in the world is the one that you do.” It’s that simple.  The best program is the one that you regularly do, and the best partner is the one that you regularly d… develop alongside.

Your exercise program is something that helps you improve.  In this case, it’s physical capacity.  Your partner is also one that helps you improve, and that’s emotional capacity.  That continued development is part of the key to finding meaning; our physical lives don’t improve much if we’re walking on the same treadmill for the same 3o-minutes and the same speed and incline.  As such, our love life doesn’t develop the same way, either.  This would lead one to believe that “it’s time to switch it up,” right?


Sure, it could work.  Something might not click after a few weeks, and you’re out on another date, or in another studio class.  Or, you can pause and ask, “Maybe it was me who isn’t clicking?”

Ponder that for a while. I’ll wait.

Too often we start a new fitness plan and weeks later ditch it for the newest thing we see.  We all know the friend; they dated a guy who lifted weights and started preaching the benefits of lifting five times per week.  That ended, they hooked up with a cycling instructor, and now are riding regular loops around the city before work.  Sound familiar?

Throw in a regular yoga class, some kickboxing, maybe a jog through the park, and you’re doing a lot with one common theme: You’re not getting better at anything.

Are you thinking, “Well, Mr. Know-It-All, I don’t want to get better, I want to have fun!”  Yes, you want to have fun, I’ll give you that.  We all do; having fun is an essential part of life.  That being said, having fun and commitment don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  In fact, I’d argue that commitment and fun need to in harmony for true progress.


In the fitness landscape we often see exciting new things that can lead to loads of fun, and often distract us from our overall goal.  This doesn’t mean that you’re bound to a life in the squat rack, or in the pool, or with a kettlebell in your hand.  It also doesn’t mean that who you’re with now is who you’ll be with forever.  It means that we should satisfy the commitments we’ve made before we pick up the next new thing that comes along.


We’re quick to assume we’re not the fortunate ones, that great relationships are fairytales.  The proverbial significant other here may be your favorite exercise, or an actual person.  Part of developing this ‘commitment’ is appreciating that while you still have a number one, girls just wanna have fun. Nailed it:

I’m not one that thinks we need to find one workout plan and follow it forever; that’s not the case at all.  I do think that we need to find a plan, follow it, and adapt while we go. This is markedly different from changing your plan every 6 weeks, or changing your man every 6 weeks, and hoping that something good comes of it.  It rarely does.

Rather, take a more meaningful approach.  Consider what you need to have fun, and consider the things that help or hurt how committed you are, either with a partner or a program.  From that starting point you can adapt and evolve, not in search of a perfect man or plan, but to continue getting better at being YOU.


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