Make Fitness Fun with a Run

Motivation for a workout, especially for those who are more sedentary, has got to be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome before starting a consistent fitness program. So, how do you get your clients off their duffs and start to actively participate in improving their health and fitness?

Make it Exciting
There are many creative, or just get-down-to-business, ways to get someone fired up for fitness. I’ve recently discovered this motivation in the way of “Fun Runs”. Sure, “fun” can be subjective, it may be different for your client than it is for you, but if you find a 5k that inspires you, introduce it as a new, exciting and social activity.

Make it Personal
I’ve seen a lot of themed runs in the media, and even near my home base in Indianapolis. If there wasn’t a reason to get out and move, there is now! Of course, when your goal is to simply inspire an otherwise inactive person to give fitness a try, you’ll want to find runs that are less likely to have your client intimidated by the presence of a hundred endurance athletes. Think of the fun run concept as a way of getting your client motivated, not a way to train them to be a marathon runner (but who knows, maybe a good run would spark dreams of running the Boston Marathon). For now, just focus on getting them started and giving them a reason to get up and move!

Make it Social
Use “Fun Runs” as an alternative to your client’s “normal” training. Promote it as a social event (a.k.a. social exercise). If you do, they will most likely make a conscious decision to get prepared for it (a.k.a “train”). Find a run that’s not so intimidating for first-timers; something that in the end will make your client glad they did it, and something they’ll want to do again.

Here are a few events and ways you can market “Fun Runs” to your clients:

Run for Your Lives

A zombie infested 5k, will you live till the finish line?

This one is my personal favorite. Zombies can be fun. They sure are a popular media interest, so this organization has capitalized on this popular trend. It’s like flag football, keep your flags and cross the finish line to successfully complete the run. Sure, you can walk it when you feel the need, but you may get eaten alive! Whether it’s just for something cool to do with friends or to start training for the impending doom of a zombie apocalypse – it’s a great way to incorporate fun, fright and fitness all into one cool run. But remember; only the strong survive!

Color Me Rad

So you’re not into scary? How about something more colorful? This run is sure to brighten you up!

You leave this race looking like a bag of skittles threw up on you…but when it’s said and done, you’ve got one heck of a cool tie-dyed t-shirt. Each leg of the run comes with a different explosion of color (but don’t worry, it’s the non-rash, non-toxic colored corn starch type). Leave with all 5 colors plastered on you, and you can consider this run a job well done. This is an exciting theme that is sure to keep the focus more on fun than the actual run. And, you can’t miss this this group from a mile (or 3) away!

Dirty Foot Run Adventures

Is an adventure more your thing? How about a good old-fashioned mud run?

In the spirit of adventure, getting dirty, working hard and playing smart – maybe something a bit more challenging is your idea of fun. I found a ton of options for this all over the Web and all over the country. Check out this calendar of adventure racing events to find something in your area. You’ll find everything from scavenger hunt races, to urban dare runs (“where brains beat brawn”) and adventures that are specifically designed for couples or team building. If you’ve ever watched those reality shows (i.e. “Love in the Wild”, or maybe something a bit more self-destructive, like “Wipeout”) and thought to yourself, “I can totally do that,” than get psyched up for a challenge and give it your best shot.

A “run” doesn’t have to be traditional, boring or something that your clients dread. If you want to creatively motivate someone to start thinking about their physical health and really get them up and moving (assuming of course that they’re physically able to achieve the goal), invite them to join you in a fun run!

You can even promote the activity as running for a cause as a team. There’s no better reason to run than to help others in need. There are a lot of charitable events to choose from, check out your local event calendar. Pick a cause that is meaningful to you and your clients and lace up to raise funds. Give back to your community while partnering with your clients to pay it forward.

If the event is something to get excited about, then undoubtedly your clients will start to prepare for it. It’s a great way to get into the spirit of fitness in a non-traditional way. Just make sure to save your invite to the Badwater Marathon (the run through Death Valley over 3 days in extreme heat) for your more seasoned clients!

Do you have ideas for a themed run or event that would inspire your clients to participate?


Angie Pattengale is co-owner and chief executive officer of the National Federation of Professional Trainers, where she works behind the scenes on relationship-building, advertising, policies and procedures, test development and delivery, and growing the business. She joined her father, NFPT founder Ron Clark, at the company in 1994.
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