Replace Your Fitness Routine With a Fitness Lifestyle

Rather than grind through your fitness routine, consider these strategies for creating an enjoyable fitness lifestyle.


Working out and staying fit doesn’t have to feel like a job.

But that’s how most people approach it. They put on their gear, clock in, and grimly get their work done. Then they get back to things they actually enjoy—or to their actual work.

Some have bosses, called “trainers,” who tell them what to do and hold them accountable. But they pay for it rather than get paid.

Others become workout-aholics. They keep turning the treadmill up a notch, never feeling content with their current status.

And then there are the loafers. They periodically attempt to join the workout force but can’t seem to hold on to a fitness routine for longer than a month before quitting.

No wonder so many people have an unhealthy relationship with fitness.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Me trying out another type of workout.
Trying my hand(s) at yet another form of exercise.

Explore your options.

If fitness is like a job, you could say I’ve been an itinerant job-hopper. Name a way of working out, and I’ve put sweat equity into it:

  • I’ve trained for endurance sports. But being a triathlete was too monotonous and time-consuming for my liking.
  • I’ve pumped iron and pulled cables to get swole and strong. I enjoyed the testosterone of it all, but I plateaued and didn’t have the stomach for all the protein powders, pills, and programming.
  • I’ve joined CrossFit cults. The community and friendly competition were fantastic, but I didn’t like being boxed in and told what to do.
  • I’ve followed fitness fads like P90X. But just like the workouts themselves, they got tiring fast.
  • I’ve done yoga, competitive sports, and boxercising, too.

While none of these fitness forays was a fit for me, they helped me figure out what I enjoyed and what I didn’t. They also earned me a broad foundation of skills and techniques. And they gave me the confidence to set out on my own.

Eventually, they’ve led me to become entrepreneurial in the way I work out.

Your future self cover image of me and future me smiling and high-fiving
My current self (right) hopes to earn high-fives from my future self (left).

Find a workout-life balancing goal.

These days, you could say I’m an “exercise freelancer.”

My clients? My current and future selves.

My deliverables? Maximizing their overall health and well-being.

Finding a balance between current and future self well-being is tricky:

  • If your current self “enjoys the present” too much, you put your future self at risk of becoming miserably fat, sick, and lazy.
  • But if you go too far the other way, your future self may regret sacrificing so much of life’s precious time and energy for a six-pack and wicked VO2 max.

I tend toward the latter. So, to guide my decisions and find a workout-life balance I’m least likely to regret, a doctor named Peter Attia helped me hone in on one long-term fitness goal:

To be the fittest 100-year-old possible.

Chris and Kim living the high life at a Cape Town winery
My 100-year-old self will be glad Kim and I enjoyed the odd glass of wine.

Enjoy the fitness lifestyle.

By pursuing my goal of becoming an “Old-lympian,” fitness has ceased to feel like a job. It has blended into my lifestyle:

  • Playing sports like beach volleyball and basketball and going hiking are my favorite pastimes.
  • Walking and biking are my go-to forms of transport because they give me time to think, stretch my legs, and save me the cost and stress of cars.
  • Sleeping well is a priority. And I sleep on the floor because I’ve found doing so best prepares my body and mind to seize the day.
  • Eating a diet heavy in hearty salads and Kim’s home cooking makes me feel best. But so do wine, beer, and Dairy Queen Blizzards, which I also frequently indulge in.
  • Fasting until the late afternoon most days, and sometimes doing multi-day fasts, seems to make my brain and body work better.
  • Brushing my body every day, just like I brush my teeth, with a simple daily mobility routine.
  • Shifting between different positions on chairs, stools, and the ground—or standing—when I’m working keeps both my body and mind from getting stiff and sore.

People see the results of this fitness lifestyle, my literal body of work:

Me and family after swimming during a hike.
Family, fitness, and fun all in one.

…and they assume it must take tons of effort.

They’re right.

But it rarely ever feels like it.

If I find big rocks at the beach, I may incorporate them into my exercise un-routine for fun.

Consider an exercise un-routine.

In addition to the fitness lifestyle components I listed above, I try to work out three or four times a week.

When living in Cape Town, I typically go to the outdoor “playground” at the Virgin Active gym. There, I invent workouts and exercises with the balls, sleds, bars, and whatever other toys are at my disposal.

And when in Vancouver for the other half of the year, I head down to Kits Beach to sprint, jump, and throw rocks on the sand, and practice calisthenics at the outdoor gymnastics set.

I like this seasonality. It keeps my workouts feeling fresh.

Speaking of which, when I travel, I take advantage of the geography to concoct funky workouts. For example, on a family trip to Tofino last summer, I invented the GWAL (guy with a log). I ran to the end of the beach, found an awkwardly-shaped hunk of driftwood, and spent the next 45 minutes picking it up and throwing it back to my hotel.

GWAL is a typical example of how I make up every workout on the spot based on how my body feels, my mood, who I’m working out with, and what equipment’s available. The added bonus of my workout un-routine is that it challenges my creativity muscles, too.

Kim and Chris inviting you to follow our fitness lifestyle while running along the beach
No, actually, don’t follow us. Figure out your own fitness lifestyle.

Find your fitness fit.

Just as I wouldn’t recommend you follow my career path, I wouldn’t push my entrepreneurial, un-routine fitness lifestyle on anyone.

Especially not early in your fitness forays. It’s probably wise to learn the ropes and develop discipline with the guidance of experienced exercises in a structured environment.

And you may ultimately find you favor the fitness equivalent of a corporate or government job:

  • Sticking to a steady routine
  • Following a trainer’s orders
  • Pursuing short-term fitness goals
  • Working out in the climate-controlled confines of a gym.

If that’s sustainable for you, great.

The main lesson I hope you take away is this:

You don’t need a strict routine to be fit. And it doesn’t need to feel like a job. Experiment, explore, and play around until you find a fitness lifestyle that keeps you feeling and looking great for a long time.

For more on living in a more exciting and rewarding way, you might like these ideas:

About the author

👋 I'm Chris. Everything you read on is my fault. This site is like a gym for your comfort zone, full of challenges to make your status quo sexier. Join my 'Consider This' newsletter for a fun new challenge every 10 days. Try it!

2 responses to “Replace Your Fitness Routine With a Fitness Lifestyle”

  1. JMAZ Avatar

    You’ve come up with a lot of ways to stay in shape. I think that’s why many people give up on their fitness goals. They become bored with the routine and decide not to work out anymore. I found that doing chores around my property also helps me stay in shape.

    Mulching, chopping wood, etc., all count as exercise.

    Having fun with exercise is the best way to stick with it.

    Take care.

    1. Chris Avatar

      Yeah, I could see chopping wood becoming a fitness craze. Wood chopping studios and such. At least until someone slices their foot off and sues.
      You’re right. Fun is what it’s all about. I should’ve emphasized that. You have to want to do it, not have to.

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The Zag shares my adventures off of the boring beaten paths of life and ideas for finding your own unfollowable path.