How to make fitness fun

Let’s be honest. Exercise isn’t actually fun.

When you first start out (or come back from a break), it’s harder than anything in the world, ever. If you’re motivated enough to actually haul yourself out of bed or pull on your trainers after work you’re hardly rewarded with a flood of endorphins straight off. More like a kick to the kidneys and pang of longing for the warm, loving embrace of the duvet that you left high and dry that morning.

Everything’s all stiff and horrible. You can’t breathe, your knees hurt, you’ve already got cramp and you’re sweating out of your eyes.

It’s probably your soul, leaving in protest, tbh.


So  yeah. Exercise isn’t always much fun at all. What is fun though – hanging out with friends, meeting new people, playing a new sport, discovering new run/ride routes, seeing things you never saw were there before, even though you’ve lived in the same place for years.

Experiencing beauty on a whole new level.

Being a kid again. Playing. Pushing yourself to the limit. Or sitting back and relaxing with it. Clearing your head. Or working through the things that have been troubling you as you run or ride.

There are so many reasons to exercise.

Side note: And so many ways to keep fit in Brighton. 

Have a gander at this post if you’re in the area and looking for something to do. 

I still feel like I’m on a fitness comeback since my very clever mountain bike accident. I’m not anywhere near back to my normal fitness – especially with running, as I haven’t ran consistently for months and have been 100% in bed with sugar instead, so let’s just say there’s a lot more Tess to love right now.

But anyway, it’s time to have another go at sorting it aaaat. A proper go. I’ve had a great couple of months getting back on it exercise-wise, and am finally getting organised / working on the food, so thought I’d share how I’m making exercise fun to reignite my mojo right now:

Buddy up 

Make exercise something you want to do, something you can’t afford to miss out on.

I usually do this by getting involved with as many running, cycling, triathlon and other training groups as I can, which basically means everywhere I go – every single run, ride or class I do – I usually know someone.

It makes every session a catch up with friends; a shared experience. A common goal.

It’s also harder to slack off when you’re surrounded by others too.

Get it done. Have a chat. Eat cake. Repeat.*

*Maybe less of the cake if you don’t want to be in the hole I’ve got myself into…

Follow a trail

Last weekend I joined a group of Brighton runners (many from my local parkrun) to follow an art trail around the city created by the Marletts Hospice.

Snowdogs By The Sea is a public art trail of 45 giant Snowdog sculptures (and 20 puppies), inspired by the much-loved Christmas animation, The Snowman. Each of the dogs is decorated by a local artist, with specific themes and sentiments running throughout. The 20 puppies are created by local schools and can be found in the local museums and libraries. (Yes, we ran into the library… quietly!)

The run was organised by the amazing Lucy who painstakingly mapped out a 10k(ish) route which led us to about 25 Snowdogs. Every time we got to one there were loads of people doing exactly the same thing – other runners, walkers, and families with children. 

What a great way to fit some exercise in!

Disguising your run like this into something fun and getting all cultured along the way certainly makes it more interesting than another aimless plod around your normal route. 

*The Snowdog Trail is on until 27th November, when they’ll be auctioned off to raise money for the Martletts Hospice. Find out more about the trail, download the map and mobile app, and donate on the Snowdogs By The Sea website

 Say no to adulting 

I really can’t stress this enough. Adulting is hard and should be done sparingly.

I’ve never heard such unashamed joy come from a group of grown adults as I did when we went mountain biking last Saturday.

As the gorgeous morning mist settled on the playing fields and rose up into Stanmer woods, I joined my lovely BTRS family for some playtime riding the singletrack.

Side note: If you like singletrack riding you might want a read of: 

Mountain biking in Wales – a tour of the trails.

It was a mixed ability group – some had never ridden these kind of trails before, let alone ridden Stanmer specifically, so it was a completely new experience for them. 

Before the fun ensued – breaking BTRS rule no.1: NO SMILING!

You know when you’re a kid and you’re in the woods with your friends, your parents have given up trying to make you come home for dinner and you’re all screaming at the top of your lungs, having the time of your lives?

That was us.

We were whooping and laughing our way down the trails, getting excited to make it over obstacles; determined for another go when we couldn’t quite do it first time. Gagging to do it again, and again, and again.

That’s why we ride our bikes. That single moment.  

I wish I could bottle up that joy and give it to anyone who’s having a shit time.

My point is – get outside and play. It’ll light up your soul and cleanse you of any stresses.

Make a new playlist

People will have mixed opinions about this one but I for one am a sucker for a lovely new playlist, especially when running long (if not in a group) to keep me going.

As well as the lovely liquid dnb beats of Etherwood, chilled vibes of Radiohead and epic singalong that can only be found on a Biffy Clyro album (you haven’t seen me singing along the Undercliff yet?!), I also like to listen to podcasts. Last marathon season I planned to listen to Serial but I binge-listened to the whole series in four runs when it basically took over my life. 

Although every time I run or ride past certain spots on my routes now I remember details about how Hae Min Lee’s body was found, which is nice, but we’ll gloss over that. 

Buy a new album. Set your iPod to shuffle – live dangerously. Or carefully curate a strategic new playlist to get you through those miles – whatever keeps you going dude.


How do you keep your training fun? 

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