Do you consider working out a chore – something you labor through to lose weight and/or ward off disease – or an enjoyable activity? Do you consider the benefits of exercise to be more “future” oriented, or an immediate means of enhancing your well-being? Studies have shown that your attitude towards exercise strongly influences whether you’ll maintain a fitness program, or soon give up in discouragement.

The Puritan mindset of doing something you don’t enjoy in order to achieve a long-term goal is counterproductive when it comes to exercise. For this reason, many psychologists now conclude that the typical reasons people are told to exercise – such as losing weight, preventing heart disease, lowering blood pressure or cholesterol, or improving bone density – have failed to motivate the majority of Americans to take to the gym. Or to use the facilities and keep up their membership if they do join.

The experts’ suggestion? Stop thinking of future health, weight loss and body image as motivations to exercise. Instead, think of physical activity as a way to feel better in the here and now.

In an interview with The New York Times, Dr. Michelle L. Segar, a research investigator at the University of Michigan, said: “Physical activity is an elixir of life, but we’re not teaching people that. We’re telling them it’s a pill to take or a punishment for bad numbers on the scale. Sustaining physical activity is an emotional issue, not a medical one … Immediate rewards are more motivating than distant ones. Feeling happy and less stressed is more motivating than not getting heart disease or cancer, maybe, someday in the future.”

Although Dr. Segar didn’t say it, getting the positive reinforcement that helps you feel good while exercising is easier when you’re in the right environment. At Future Fitness, we’ve always based our approach on motivating members through a wide variety of classes led by the industry’s best instructors, who encourage a sense of camaraderie.

Add one-on-one instruction with a personal trainer, a beautiful swimming pool with aquatics classes at each club, the latest equipment and supervised childcare televised on monitors throughout, and you have plenty of reasons to enjoy getting and staying fit! It’s good to see that the experts are affirming what we at Future Fitness have known all along.