By Jonathan Aluzas

Yeah, it’s true, “working out” sucks.? The ponderous drudgery of killing time on an elliptical machine or doing a few sets of military press in a Cybex machine is enough to drive most of us to frustration and, ultimately, to failure.? Maybe this is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that:

  • Percent of adults 18 years of age and over who engaged in regular leisure-time physical activity: 35%
  • Percent of adults 18 years of age and over who engaged in no leisure-time physical activity: 33%

After seeing this statistic I immediately determined that 50% of the 35% of adults 18 years of age who report that they engage in regular leisure-time physical activity are full of shit.? There’s no way one-third of Americans exercise with regularity.? No way.? Unless “regular leisure-time physical activity” can be defined as golf (driving the cart, not walking the course), watching your kids play soccer, or walking from the car to your front door.? So, I inspected more closely and found that, according to IDEA Health and Fitness Association:

  • % of American adults who meet recommended physical activity guidelines: 22%
  • % of American adults who say they never engage in physical activity during their leisure time2: 40%

This feels closer to the truth.? But WHY do so many people avoid exercise, aka “working out?”? Because “working out” sucks!? It’s boring, ponderous, redundant and tedious.

“Training,” on the other hand, rocks.? “Training” is exciting, purposeful, dynamic and constantly evolving.? What’s the difference?? Well, one of the best descriptions of the difference between “working out” and “training” I’ve come across was described by Nick Tumminelo, a Baltimore-based fitness authority, who stated:

“Training is when you have a progressive plan with measurable goals and continual challenges. Working out is anything that makes you sweaty and tired but not necessarily better because it lacks consistency, direction and specificity.”

Cape and Speedo optional.
Cape and Speedo optional.

Well said, Nick.? In other words, there’s a purpose to “training” beyond burning a few calories and dampening your shirt with sweat.? “Working out” sucks because it lacks specificity, program design and a progressive plan; it’s about as exciting as standing in line at the DMV.

So, how do you change your exercise from “working out” to “training?”? Find a purpose.

  • Set a specific goal with your doctor to lower your weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure by specific amounts and then hire a good trainer to help you achieve those objectives.
  • Take a risk and sign up for a half-marathon, then find a running club in the area you can join in order to systematically prepare for the event.
  • Sign up for the Spartan Sprint in Malibu, California on November 19th like 20 of us from Arena Fitness did and then join us for our Spartan Training Camp classes to make sure you’re ready when the race comes.
  • Get ready for your upcoming wedding!? Give yourself several months to a year and, if you’re not able to hire a trainer or join a gym, research websites like,, and others to get help on how to set up a consistent, step-by-step fitness program.

Bottom line; stop “working out!”? At some point the raw tedium of the experience will gnaw away at your soul until you quit or stop making progress.? If you start “training,” I think you’ll find that the process of having a purpose to your activity will drive you to perpetually seek out challenge, improvements and satisfaction.

Arena Fitness is a Personal Training and Group Fitness facility in Encino, California.