Making Your Workout Fun

5 min read


When you look up “exercise” online, you’ll find the following:

Activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness.
“exercise improves your heart and lung power”
synonyms: physical activity, a workout, working out; gymnastics, sports, games, physical education, physical training, aerobics, body conditioning, calisthenics; “exercise improves your heart”

Makes you want to jump up and start “improving your heart” right?

However, if you look up the word “play” online, you’ll find:
“engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose”; “the children were playing outside”; Synonyms: amuse oneself, entertain oneself, have fun

What inspires you more, exercise or fun?
If you’re like me, you’d much rather play than exercise. This is why I think it is necessary sometimes to mix up workouts, make them games and go beyond what could be considered a grind.

pumpkin wod 2015If you do CrossFit, you’re likely already familiar with this and maybe it’s even what drew you to your local affiliate. Competing against yourself or other members of your gym for a particular time on a WOD can be like capturing the flag, minus sneaking into your opponent’s territory and everything that might go with that. And how can you not have fun doing something like a partner WOD with a pumpkin?

I recently started doing a boot camp at 5:30am and I’m having a blast. Keep in mind that this boot camp is held outside, in all kinds of weather and in the dark. Sounds like fun, right? The reason I’m having such a good time is that the coach does everything she can to make it fun. Some of the things she’s done include:

  • Using a deck of cards (facing down) to determine what exercise you do at a particular time. For example, clubs equal side lunges, hearts mean frog hops, etc.
  • Pairing partners so that one partner stays on the mat doing a particular exercise, while the other one runs to a starting place and does a different exercise. The pair that gets through a particular round first earns points and the pair with the most points at the end wins.
  • Having a team mascot which could be any type of object that is available at 5:30am (a glove, a tissue box, etc.) and completing certain types of challenges lets you move that object. The team that moves their object the farthest, wins.

These are just a few ideas to make a workout fun, but how can you also encourage more folks to come to your gym or school more often?

attendance check in The same boot camp just started a “check-in challenge.” Anyone who checks in 12 times in three weeks receives a free t-shirt. This challenge not only encourages folks to visit your gym more often in the short-term, but many studies talk about the “power of habit.” Once that person is accustomed to getting to your gym or school four times a week, he or she is much more likely to continue that long after the challenge ends.

If you’re using some sort of manual system like Excel to track attendance, you might spend more time than you want to on spreadsheets. Fortunately with Zen Planner you can have your members check themselves in using Kiosk Mode on the Staff App. A couple of taps and attendance is tracked automatically. Using an app makes it easy for them and easy for you.

Another idea to make things fun is to challenge your members to bring a friend over a set period of time. Try something like “bring a friend in the month of November and both you and your friend will get a discount on branded gear.” Promotions like this are especially important towards the end of a calendar year as that is traditionally when folks will find any excuse possible to not get to the gym (with the intention of getting back to it in the New Year).

What have you tried to make your workouts fun? Let us know. Also, if you’re a Zen Planner customer and you’d like to share your story on our website, reach out to us at

To your success!

Are you looking for new ways to take your gym to the next level this year? Get your copy of our Boutique Fitness Benchmark Report to see what top studios are doing to create success for themselves.
New call-to-action