We’ve all been there. We think this is THE time that we’ll finish our workout program and lose those last stubborn pounds. Yet, time and time again, we fall off the wagon.

So, what is the secret to lifelong fitness anyways? In this article, you’ll learn how to be consistent long term.

Secret to Lifelong Fitness

what’s the secret to lifelong fitness?

It’s a question that has been on my mind since becoming a fitness coach in 2013. Since then, Alex and I have helped over a thousand people get started on their fitness journey. Unfortunately, only a small percentage stay consistent long term (we’re talking years, not months) and make a full lifestyle change.

We’ve interviewed 35 of the most accomplished individuals and couples we’ve worked with to learn the secret to lifelong fitness. What’s most exciting is that 80% of these people are Duo’ing Life together and working out as a couple.

This is not surprising given the many proven benefits of working out as a couple. So, let’s get to it. Here are our 4 secrets to lifelong fitness that will help you be consistent.

1. Workout as a couple.

As a couple, it is so important to be aligned in your fitness and health goals. If you are not working out together, chances are there’s an imbalance in the relationship, and with some communication, compromise, and commitment, you can improve.

Let’s say you are both working on your fitness goals separately. Congrats! This exercise is going to improve your health in many ways but working out together improves your relationship. By working out together, you are setting yourselves up for success (according to a long-term study) and increasing your attraction to each other!

Not to mention you get to connect, experience new things together, and spend quality time together. If you are already working out as a Duo, we have some great activities for you to complete below.

If not, consider starting with these 23 couples yoga poses,  this 23-minute cardio couple workout, or our professionally guided couples yoga flow workout. All are guaranteed to be fun and productive.

If you have a hard time motivating your partner to exercise with you, you’re not alone. As health coaches who focus specifically on couples, we’re regularly asked, “How do I get my spouse to work out with me?”

To help people navigate this challenge, we wrote The Complete Guide to Working Out as a Couple.

2. Focus on intrinsic motivation.

I frequently ask clients, “What is your motivation?” It’s a pretty important question to gauge commitment level. In response, I often hear, “get a six pack,” “drop 15 pounds before a cruise,” or “look great in a bikini.” If I wasn’t so Minnesota Nice, I would scream, “NO!”

The problem with this motivation is that it’s extrinsic rather than intrinsic. Therefore, it’s based on ego. Instead of bringing happiness, ego breeds frustration and continuous disappointment which typically ends in failure.

Has your motivation ever been based on ego? Or, is it now? Mine was in college. I wanted to get back to my high school, soccer physique self. You know the quote, “Money can’t buy you happiness?” Well, here’s a new quote for you, “Ego can’t bring you lifelong fitness.” Why? Because you are never going to be content since you’ll always need something more.

A motivation based on ego or aesthetics won’t allow you to internalize your goal to make a lasting lifestyle change. Once my motivation was no longer based on ego, I changed my lifestyle. Here is an activity to help you find your true, intrinsic motivation, our first secret to lifelong fitness.

Duo Lifer Activity 1:

Toyota has a mantra to get to the bottom of every problem to find the real solution. It’s also known as finding your why or your true purpose. The mantra is, “Ask ‘why’ five times about every matter.

Your action item is to ask each other, “Why you are motivated to exercise?” Immediately after the response, ask “why” again. Make sure you are responding as quickly as possible. You shouldn’t have to think too much. I take my past self as an example:

So, Ryan, why are you motivated to exercise? “So I can look like I did in high school.” Why do you want to look like you did in high school? “That is when I had the most energy.” Do you want more energy? Why? “Because I’m so drained after work that I am lazy.” Why do you want to be less lazy? “I want to be able to ski and play soccer again.” And why do you want to do that? “Because they give me a sense of adventure and purpose that I miss.” That last reason I gave is exactly what motivated me to achieve lifelong fitness.

3. Stay consistent.

Obviously this had to be a secret to lifelong fitness. But how do they stay consistent? They do short (20-40 minutes) exercise 5-6 days (sometimes 7 including yoga) a week. It’s not enough to work out 3 days a week, even if you work out for hours at a time. If you only work out 3 days a week your mind and body won’t learn to crave movement.

Also if you miss a day, that could be 4 days without working out, which is way too long to maintain momentum. Short workouts can be extremely effective as shown in our cardio experiment.

Realistically, things happen and consistency will never be perfect. The secret is to own it instead of using an interruption as an excuse to quit. When you’ve figured out lifelong fitness, your workout is an integral part of your that you don’t want to miss. If you do, it throws off our routine and energy.

In our experience, when you are motivated to exercise even when you’re on vacation (or at the cabin for the weekend) you know the secret to lifelong fitness. To be consistent long term, plan ahead and figure out the best time of day for your workouts. Working out is hard but it’s also hard being unhealthy. Choose your hard and stick with it.

Fitness Duo Lifer Activity 2:

Schedule your week on Sunday. Having a plan to follow and scheduling in time for your exercise is absolutely critical to consistency. It’s best if you can work out at the same time each day to allow your mind and body to get into the habit and build a routine.

4. Have fun.

If your motivation is intrinsic, you are going to have more fun. You will celebrate the little wins, or the non-scale victories, more frequently. When you have momentum, you are in the groove and are better at what you’re doing. That makes it fun! It’s never fun starting over every other month. So, what else makes exercise fun (at least most of the time!), our final secret to lifelong fitness?

  • Do it together. This opens the door to a whole lot of fun – making intense eye contact while shuffling side to side and seeing who breaks into laughter first. Or, accidentally grazing your hand across their butt during sun salutations. And whiffed high fives because you’re both completely exhausted.
  • Optimize your workouts to make sure there is variety. You wouldn’t read the same book over and over so why would you do the same workout over and over? Outside of boredom, you’ll burn out or get injured. Boredom is your body telling you to re-think your strategy. The average 60-day program on Beachbody On Demand (start your free trial here) has between 13 and 60 different workouts. Don’t push through boredom with your exercise.
  • Find active hobbies! If you don’t have an active hobby, you need one. Walking and catching up after work counts. If you don’t have time for a hobby, you need to have a plan in place to make time. Taking your role as a mature and professional adult too seriously is not fun. When we were kids, we craved these hobbies because we had a blast doing them. Once you are consistent with fitness over the long term, you’ll crave those active hobbies. So, take this next activity seriously because it is going to help you make exercise feel less like a chore. It’s more fun when it’s an investment in the sport or active hobby that you love doing.

Fitness Duo Lifer Activity 3:

Answer these questions as a couple:

  1. Are there active activities (individually or together) that you no longer do because you don’t have time or you’re not fit enough?
  2. What are some active activities that you have always wanted to be able to do?
  3. Do you live in a new place with access to cool new active hobbies that you haven’t tried yet?

Discuss these questions and write down the answers. Then, select at least one item on the list and set a deadline for when you will complete the activity together. Here are some Ryan and Alex Duo Life examples: play soccer again, go trail running together, commit to a downhill skiing trip, pick up backpacking as a hobby, bike or run together instead of using metro transport or your car, and walk to the grocery store together.

    Why strive for lifelong fitness, together?

    According to a Huffington Post article, Healthy Eating, Exercise Linked With Workplace Productivity, a new study shows that eating unhealthily is linked with a 66% increased risk of loss of productivity, while rare exercise is linked with a 50 percent increased risk of low productivity. Fitness fuels your mind and body.

    We can help you with the most effective plan for your goals, interests, and equipment available. Need to kickstart your lifelong fitness journey? Enroll in our Couple’s Clean Week program to get the best tools for success.

    If you would like to share your secrets to lifelong fitness, please do so in the comments below.


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      A husband-wife duo, two engineers, and the creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. 

      After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our to tackle our true passion:

      Helping highly motivated couples optimize their relationship and health by cutting through the muck and sharing what the research says works.

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