Sean Coxon January 26 2023

Personal (ity) Training – how does our personality affect our fitness?

When it comes to health and fitness, there’s never one solution that fits everyone. Fitness enthusiast, Sean Coxon, explores how our personality traits set us apart from one another when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle...

When it comes to health and fitness, there’s never one solution that fits everyone. In the same way that we all have different personality traits. What works perfectly for one will lead to certain failures for another. So, what is that sets us apart from one another when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle? This idea led me to start thinking about how our personality might affect the results we achieve.

Living with a personal trainer gives me a unique insight into the world of fitness and an understanding of the different types of people that find themselves in the gym at the bottom of our garden on a regular basis. I found it was only natural to start making comparisons between personality and the results people were getting.

Introducing my partner to the benefits of understanding personality meant that we could try to decipher which is the right personality type to achieve great results in the gym.

The short answer is…there isn’t one. Disappointing right?

Well maybe not. If there is no defined personality type that leads to a sustainable healthy lifestyle, then it must be something else. Something that we can all access and take advantage of. We concluded that personal trainers need to start adapting the way they work with their clients to suit their personalities. There is no one size fits all!

Finding the right solution for YOU relies on understanding your preferred behaviours and matching them to your training.

It would be far too simplistic to assume that having high Determination (WILL) and high Discipline (CONTROL) are the only 2 factors that you need to focus on and if you don’t have them, then it’s a lost cause. In fact, when discussing personality recently with a friend, they made the assumption that I would have high Will and high Control because I train regularly for running events and take my fitness relatively seriously as a result. Surely someone who runs 3-4 times a week has high discipline? Not necessarily.

It couldn’t be further from the truth. I am one of the least disciplined people on the planet and my determination isn’t particularly high either.   The very thought of having a running plan and sticking to it is enough to have me cowering under the bed covers and making excuses for why GMTV is a more beneficial way of spending my morning, so what is it that drives me?

I found out, completely by accident that the secret to my success lay in 2 of the Facet 5 personality traits

LOW CONTROL. As creative, maverick types, we don’t want gym/running plans or programmes. It’s too boring. We want to leave the house a do whatever we fancy doing that day whether it’s sprints, hill climbs, slow tempo runs or climbing trees. We don’t want to plan any of it. Once I got my head around the fact that I doesn’t have to be disciplined, I felt more inclined to go and do it. It also meant that I don’t need to have a timetable. I am OK with getting up in the morning and telling myself “At some point today, you need to run” you can go now, or at lunchtime or this evening. Your choice.

HIGH ENERGY. That slightly extrovert side of me that yearns to be around other people. My first experience of a gym that held my interest was way back in 2015 when I joined a gym that ran group Personal Training sessions. 6 people per group, all doing the same thing but having fun together while doing it. It was a lightbulb moment for me because I realised that working out with other people was the key to me actually wanting to go back again. Sitting in a Gym on my own felt like torture.

I can hear you saying now “but running is a pretty solo sport, it doesn’t make sense” and you’re right, for the most part it is. However, I can deal with some long, boring, slow runs on my own when I know that there are park runs, hill repeats and race events that are all social gatherings with like-minded people. I have to do the boring bit, to be able to do the fun bit which is where my motivation comes from

The lesson is to identify what it is that will hold your interest and keep you motivated and to find this it’s highly beneficial to consider what our personality is telling us. For me it was no constraints, no rules, engaging with other people and having fun.

Other examples might be;

LOW ENERGY – Find a 24-hr gym and go at midnight so nobody else is around and you do your thing with headphones in, enjoying your own space.

HIGH AFFECTION – Get involved in team sports or I would highly recommend the obstacle racing community who are super friendly and supportive towards each other. A real feeling of ‘We’re all in this together’. You might even want to find someone who needs help getting started and you’re going to be their fitness buddy.

HIGH CONTROL – Put a regimented training programme together that get’s results and keeps you on track. You’ll love the planning and the execution.

We all have our own relationships with health and fitness and success is often considered a utopia that we all must reach and anything else is failure. I can tell you that this is a myth, despite the way Social Media portrays it.

Success is what you want it to be, and it can as simple and getting your 10,000 steps in per day or completing an ultra-marathon.   Choose what you want it to be and find a way to get there.

There is one pathway to success and that’s your pathway. A route that you choose based on what fits best for you. Personality plays a huge part in finding the right vehicle that will keep us motivated along the way.

I hope this helps put a different perspective on fitness for you. I am off for a run now… probably to the pub.

Facet5 accreditations


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