This Scary-Accurate Test Can Tell You the Best Workout for Your Personality


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Welcome to our 2018 Wellness Guide, a series of stories we're running this January to help you own your health and happiness this year—all curated with the knowledge that wellness is never one-size-fits-all. Check back all month for expert-led guides on tackling your goals, from choosing the best workout for your personality to staying mindful even when your schedule is absolutely insane.

Most fitness experts will agree that if you're hoping to motivate yourself to work out, the first thing to do is to find a workout you actually enjoy doing. And since we all have different personalities, that might mean tuning out some of the buzziest fitness trends in favor of something you think you'll honestly want to stick with. (It's really okay if HIIT is not your thing.)

But while trial and error is generally a valid approach, there are shortcuts to finding out which kind of workout best suits your temperament. Believe it or not, scientists have been studying the intersection of fitness and personality for decades—and experts often refer to a 2004 study as the ultimate roadmap to finding your ideal plan.

According to the study, in order to identify your "fitness personality," you need to consider seven key elements and how they pertain to you—things like sociability, competitiveness, and focus. For example, do you thrive in a group setting or consider working out your "me" time? Do you love the feeling of breaking a sweat, or are you more motivated by the mere prospect of toned abs after a few weeks of hard work?

The researchers from the study believe that once you identify where you fall under each key element, you can find a fitness plan that suits your personality—especially if you're new to working out. "Individuals who do not exercise regularly are likely to experience additional challenges or obstacles when they engage in activities that require them to behave differently from their customary patterns or styles," the authors of the study explain. In other words, we're creatures of habit—and we're that much more likely to stick with something that fits in with our existing routine and personality traits.

So which workout suits you best? Read up on the seven traits below and let your answers reveal your personalized fitness routine.


It's not just a matter of being surrounded by people but the kind of interaction you're looking for.

Which sounds most like you?

1. You feel motivated by a group setting but would rather keep interaction to a minimum.

Group classes are likely ideal for you. They don't require you to be social, but you can still thrive off of that community energy.

2. You're nostalgic for your high school soccer team.

If you love interacting and bonding with other people while you work out, it might be time to revisit team sports—whether that's with a local league or just playing a pickup game with your friends is up to you.

3. Nope—working out is like meditation for you, and you'd rather go it alone.

Swimming, walking, running, yoga—the options are endless for solitary fitness.


Do you like structure, or do you prefer to go with the flow?

Which sounds most like you?

1. You like to map out a workout beforehand so that you have a pretty good idea of how it's going to go.

A choreographed step class or HIIT might be best suited for you since there's a plan for you to stick to.

2. Structure is great, but you like to have room to grow.

Activities like weight training and Ashtanga yoga offer an ideal balance of structure and wiggle room since they give you the opportunity to build and improve on precise moves.

3. You get bored really easily.

Choose something that allows you to mix it up—you'll never know exactly how a soccer game will go, for example. If you prefer more solitary activities, hike, walk, or run outside—anywhere that allows you to change up your scenery will do. Like group settings? Give dance or an open-flow yoga class a try.


There are two kinds of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Which sounds most like you?

1. You live for the process—every forming muscle and drop of sweat reminds you how much stronger you're getting. (And the endorphins after each workout alone are enough to carry you straight into the next one.)

You're intrinsically motivated—you value the means just as much (if not more) than the ends. Distance running, weight training, and yoga are all great options for you depending on other personal preferences.

2. You like to set goals and every workout gets you one step closer to your goal whether it's getting ready for a marathon, fitting into your wedding dress, or gaining toned abs.

You abide by extrinsic motivation, so you may want to de-emphasize tough, solitary workouts in favor of something more fun like group fitness or team sports (whatever gets you sweating, right?). Another strategy might be to create an incentive if you don't already have one. An example would be deciding to get back in shape by the time you jet off on your next vacation. The bottom line is to create a workout timeline based off of that end goal.


Even if you consider yourself relatively docile, you may have to summon your inner beast to get the results you want.

Which sounds most like you?

1. Sweating, grunting, and pushing your way through a workout just doesn't sound appealing.

The good news is that there are plenty of movement-oriented, nonaggressive activities that can still tone you up in no time. Yoga, dance, and walking are all great examples.

2. Are you kidding? Feeling like a total badass is the best part of working out.

The more aggressive workout you choose might come down to other personality factors. Weight training is a great way to release some personal aggression. Similarly, team sports and group classes offer the opportunity for some more direct competition.


It's essentially the intersection of aggression and sociability. How do you relate to other people (or yourself) when you're working out?

Which sounds most like you?

1. There's no better feeling than testing yourself.

If you consider yourself your best competitor, then choose solitary activities that allow you to one-up personal goals. Running is an obvious choice, as you can aim to up your mileage or beat your best time. Weight training is another option. But you can really insert that competitive streak into most activities. For example, try nailing that forearm stand in yoga.

2. You want to see your name on that Flywheel leaderboard.

Group classes give you an opportunity to indirectly compete with your cohorts. Crave more obvious competition? Sports that involve competitors might be more your speed. (Tennis, anyone?)

3. You're not here for any competition—working out is more of a stress reliever than anything else.

You might be better suited for activities like dance, barre, Pilates, or walking. On the flip side, remember that group classes are generally as competitive as you want them to be—even if that's not at all.


Did you know that research done by the International Society of Drug Bulletins classifies focus in two different dimensions? Focus width accounts for a broad or narrow focus of your surroundings, while focus direction pertains to external versus internal thought. The study offers a key example: If you're playing basketball and running down the court, your focus is broad and external—you're taking other players, the ball, and other outside factors into account all at once. If you're trying to make a free throw, however, your focus is narrow and likely more internal, as you focus to try and make the shot.

Which sounds most like you?

1. You can only exercise if you're listening to a killer playlist or watching TV.

Your environment and surroundings contribute to the success of your workout—it's all part of the experience for you. This probably means you'd do better in less-focused activities like cardio and group classes.

2. No distractions, please—you like to keep your head in the game.

Team sports and activities like tennis, boxing, and dance require your full attention at all times, and you wouldn't have it any other way.

3. You like to observe how every muscle is feeling—and if all else fails, you can always return to your breath.

If you like to look inward, you'll probably thrive in yoga or tai chi.

4. A good workout is like a therapy session for you: a place to work through the day's stresses.

You probably need a workout that lets your mind wander as you sweat—something like running or hiking.

Risk Taking

Would you rather stick to what you know or do you like every workout to feel like a new adventure?

Which sounds most like you?

1. Group classes intimidate you—you don't want to seem like you don't know what you're doing.

Taking a new walking route or finally besting your running time can add plenty of excitement to your routine when you'd rather avoid feeling self-conscious in front of other people.

2. There's nothing more thrilling to you than challenging the limits of your own body.

Dead-lifting weights might make you realize that you're stronger than you ever imagined, while an advanced yoga class can also push you to explore exactly what your body is capable of. Want to take it outdoors? Try scheduling a long, steep hike.

3. What's the point of playing if there isn't a winner?

If nothing gets your adrenaline pumping like head-to-head competition, partake in one-on-one or team sports. Boxing is another great option, as are cycling classes with leaderboards.


This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions.

Victoria Hoff