People frequently inquire about best exercise plan. The answer to this question cannot be answered with a unidimensional response; to do so would be short-sighted. An important piece of information to consider when answering this seemingly simple question is to understand personality profiles, which are multidimensional and complex in nature. Generating an exercise “treatment” plan for each personality type would provide a means for individuals to exercise in ways in which they feel comfortable while simultaneously challenging them to address their limitations. The bottom line is to view exercise as a wonderful microcosm for personal discovery and change. Here are some proposed exercise “treatment” plans for various personality types:
Type A: This type of personality can start with intense workouts in a group such as boot camp, sports team, kickboxing, or any type of high energy workout to target their fast-paced, high stress personality. The goal would be to gradually introduce workouts that encompass more meditative type of exercise such as yoga or Pilates in order to assist them with eliciting the relaxation response as a coping strategy. Multiple health benefits are experienced from this strategy, which includes decreasing their tendency to be irritable, hostile, and defensive, leading to lowered blood pressure levels and resting heart rates.
Social Butterfly: This individual will tend to embrace any type of group exercise class or sports team, as they will feel fulfilled by engaging in a common goal with peers. The class may afford them the opportunity to transform the scheduled class into a satisfying social event. The challenge for this individual would be to focus inward, most likely in a personal training session, so an inventory of personal attributes can be explored without being distracted by social stimulus.
Wall Flower: This person would need to start with personal training sessions to feel safe and competent with exercise techniques, movements, patterns, and routines. The one-on-one attention would be enjoyed so not to encounter any self-conscious experiences that a group may present. Eventually, the client can be coached to enter into a group class. This process is referred to as systematic desensitization or graded exposure in which a person is slowly exposed to stressful experiences step-by-step coupled with relaxation tools in efforts to attain a final feared goal.
The Problem Solver (“The Fixer”): This person would enjoy the variety and exploration of exercise tools, such as stability and medicine balls, gliding discs, and body bar. The problem-solver can then be challenged by being presented with an exercise in which they cannot yet perform, such as a plank on the TRX Suspension Training system, so that he/she realizes that the only solution to achieve this task is to be patient and practice it over time.
The Dreamer: Any type of dance fitness such ZumbaTM or Bachata may be a great avenue for this person. Engaging in fluid routines and rhythmic-based movements can stimulate their fantasies and dreams. Fitness is used as a great coping mechanism to escape the stress of day-to-day routine life. We can all benefit from the dreamer a few times a week!
Identifying and understanding a person’s character strengths and limitations can help foster exercise success and long-term adherence, which will most likely lead to brighter moods, weight loss, and interpersonal satisfaction over time. This guided process nicely demonstrates that exercise can be a stable, grounding resource for individuals in times of stress and teach them how to address aspects in life that they avoid and/or fear the most, both in and out of the gym environment.