By Greg Hansen

Is fitness fun for you? Do you find yourself motivated? Do you dread the treadmill? Maybe your fitness needs to be redefined. Fitness should be fun. Although diet, nutrition, hydration and a workout plan are crucial, the most important ingredient to fitness is fun. Transform your fitness into a lifestyle that is invigorating and fun.
FUN FITNESS FOR MOTIVATION AND A HEALTHY SOCIAL LIFE
Dr. Medina, a preventative care specialist, says that fun and fitness are correlated; your most effective fitness occurs when you are having fun. If walking on the treadmill or an elliptical is boring then do an exercise you enjoy. If an exercise is difficult, you’ll find an excuse not to do it. When it is fun, you’re more likely to find enjoyment in it. The fun in an exercise distracts you from the pain. A game of frisbee or intramural soccer makes the exercise more fun. The pain is perceived less when you focus on the fun.
When you are not having fun more willpower is needed to exercise. There needs to be an intrinsic value to fitness in order to motivate you. When you start exercising for fun you are more likely to want to continue fitness. Dr. Medina says that, “fun is the most important ingredient of all”. It can help motivate and sustain you if you are beginning fitness. Examine why you may not be having fun and then investigate the solutions. What is fun for others may not be for you. So find what is fun and do it. Commit to the long haul and set goals.
Your fitness should be social. Dr. Medina says that he makes fitness a social activity with his family and friends. Mountain biking with his dog, playing racquetball with friends, or hiking with a group of families is fun for Dr. Medina. These kinds of fitness activities exercise your body and your social life at the same time.

Dr. Ernie Medina Jr., Ph.D. is a preventive care specialist who has spent the last thirteen years working at Beaver Medical Group in Redlands, California, Dr. Medina helps patients of all ages overcome lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Dr. Medina is also an Assistant Clinical Professor at Loma Linda University, in the School of Public Health.

FUN FITNESS FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND SPIRITUAL FORMATION
As a Certified Mental Health Counselor, Jeffrey Danese says fitness and exercise are crucial for mental health. He has his clients get two to three months of exercise prior to their first session of counseling. Jeffrey notes that among the numerous neurotransmitters in the human brain, serotonin is particularly important. Serotonin is partially responsible for depression if the levels are too low. Fitness raises those levels for up to twelve hours after exercising.

Your fitness should not be used to cover up unwanted emotions nor should your fitness be compulsory. Do it for a healthy balanced life. Fitness is like eating. Both are necessary in balanced quantities. Exercise is essential for mental and spiritual health.
Your fitness should be tied with your spiritual formation. Good fitness is good stewardship of the body that God has given you. Spiritual formation occurs during active fitness. So, music and video can be a distraction. Instead, focus on the fitness you are doing and use it as a time to grow spiritually. Doing this you’ll also focus on those around you. You’ll find appropriate opportunities to live out your faith and share with others.
For Jeffrey, fitness becomes fun through the company he keeps. Meet others and form fitness partners; find people who have similar fitness goals and make your fitness social. Not only will you be striving towards fitness goals you will also be developing friendships.

Jeffrey Danese MS, MA, CMHC is a lecturer at San Jose State University, California in Comparative Religious Study and Psychology. He received a Master of Arts in Religious Studies at Santa Barbara, California, a Master of Science in Psychology at Eastern Washington, and is currently pursuing his PhD. In Human Sciences at Saybrook University in San Francisco, California.

FUN FITNESS FOR RELAXING AND OVERCOMING
Laura Arnez has been a runner for years doing all kinds of races. Even with Laura's impressive fitness resume, she admits that fitness was not always fun. As a young adult she was not athletic. She did mountain biking in college and turned to running when a friend (now her husband) encouraged her to run with him. She didn’t enjoy it but overcame this struggle by continuing to run and got better. She eventually ran a 5k and did other events.
Laura had difficulty in water during triathlons. She did not let her fear of water, not being a strong swimmer, or her allergy to chlorine stop her from competing. She took swim lessons to improve her breathing and form and overcame her struggles. She persevered even when she felt she couldn’t. She asked God, “what do you want to teach me through this?” She used those times to pray and to challenge herself physically and spiritually, “If I can do this in the physical realm, I can do this in my faith.” For Laura, every step pushes her forward spiritually.
Laura could not do fitness unless it was fun. She says you should meet new people to share in the fun as you pursue fitness. Appreciate the beauty of God while exercising outdoors. Enjoy the therapy of fitness. Have fun, feel good and push your body toward being healthy.
If you are not having fun, or just beginning fitness Laura suggests that you slow down and relax. Don’t push yourself. Take it easy, focus on your fitness and enjoy spending time with others. She acknowledges that for some fitness may be difficult to achieve. Have faith and push through what is hard. Eventually you’ll love fitness because it energizes you.
Laura Arnez MA is a mother of five children, ages seven to seventeen, two of whom are adopted. She received her Masters in Social work from California State University Sacramento and is a licensed Social Worker. Laura has competed in over one hundred events including: ten marathons, twenty-five half marathons, five half-Ironman triathlons, three Olympic-distance triathlons, three sprint-distance triathlons, thirty 10k runs, and thirty-five 5k runs and the Boston Marathon in 2002, 2005, and 2008. Laura will be doing her first Ironman Triathlon in November 2010.

FUN FITNESS IS ACTIVE AND AN EXTENSION OF YOUR FAITH
Nick Collins, a law student and fitness enthusiast, feels that your fitness can reflect your dedication to Christ. Fitness is a communal invitation to others that invites them to join you in something that you love. Your love for fitness and your faith journey with Christ can be revealed. Going to the gym doesn’t have to be just about you and your own edification. Look for opportunities to meet someone and meet their needs through the faith experiences you have.

Nick finds several ways to make physical activity fun. He currently plays ultimate frisbee two times a week to maintain his cardiovascular endurance. He likes to push himself to see his body do something out of the ordinary like making a diving catch. Doing gymnastics he uses his own body weight on the parallel bars and the rings. He mountain-bikes and does core-training to be a better rider. Nick pursues functional strength. He wants his body to show power and strength in every range of motion rather than just the aesthetic look achieved by stationary exercise. Fitness helps him to be focused and refreshed.

Nick Collins BA is a Graduate Student of Law at Santa Clara University, California. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Nick maintains his cardiovascular endurance by playing ultimate Frisbee several times a week and enjoys improving his core strength by gymnastics and plyometrics in order to improve his skills and fitness level.

DO FITNESS DIFFERENTLY: GO FROM BORING OBLIGATION TO ENJOYABLE FITNESS
Fitness should be fun. If you are not having fun, you are missing out. Try these three steps if fitness is not fun for you:
Look at why you are not having fun- Are you out of shape? Do you not like working out alone? Are you unfamiliar with the gym? Understand why you are not currently pursuing fitness. Seek help or ask a friend to join you. Get comfortable and appropriate workout attire. Try a trainer for a month.
Do something you enjoy- Find activities that you like. If you do not like the confines of a gym then exercise outside. Develop a fitness that matches your interests. Try different locations, invite different people and change your fitness routine.
Get connected with others, develop a community- Why do fitness alone? You may find yourself being less motivated and not held accountable. Find a workout partner; do not be afraid to ask someone if they want to join you, chances are they may be in the same situation as you- looking for a partner! Try a spin-class at the local gym, join an adult soccer league, take your dog for a run with your neighbors.
Fun fitness allows you to be motivated, make friends and share your passion with others.
REDEFINE YOUR FAITH
Apply the same steps to your faith when you feel your faith is dead or lacking:
Look at why your faith is lacking- Are you reading the Bible? Are you connected with a mentor? Are you praying continually? Are you serving others? Perhaps a different Bible translation will help you read more effectively. Find a new church and ask the Pastor to mentor you. Maybe you just have to get down on your knees and pray even when you do not want to. God doesn’t want you to lack.
Do something that you enjoy- Start a small group for the purpose of growing in faith. Serve in a food kitchen for a month. Seek ways that will incorporate your faith into a life-giving relationship with others. Get out and share your faith by loving others.
Get connected with others, develop a community- Your faith should not be done alone. Read the Bible aloud with others. Pray on your knees together. Don’t do your faith alone. You will be stronger in your faith with another person and even stronger with two. Set goals and stay motivated by your community. Be held accountable to your reading and prayer and fasting by sharing those goals with others.
Having fun in both your faith and fitness happens when you give them greater focus. Being passive and simply going through the motions is guaranteed to be ineffective. Take steps today to reinvigorate your physical and spiritual life.

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