I don’t particularly enjoy exercising. I know it’s good for me for all sorts of reasons, but there was always some excuse, too busy, wanting to do other stuff like reading or going out with friends to lunch, you name it.
With the exception of some urban cycling and the occasional hour-long recreational bike ride, I’ve basically not been in a gym to exercise in years.
I figured out what works to get me to exercise. Enter my sister. My sister, we’ll call her “Jane”, also knew she wanted to work out but couldn’t get up the will to go regularly. She had her reasons for wanting to work out, and her standard excuses.
Jane and I bet each other $20 that we wouldn’t work out once per week. After a brief trial period, we upped the workouts to twice per week. That may not seem like much to those who are regular gym patrons, but it’s a big step up for each of us.
It works. Neither of us has lost the bet after 8 weeks, and neither of us shows any signs of stopping. I actually enjoy downloading a paper to read (mostly from TCRP) or bringing a book and just chugging away at a stationary bike, or playing basketball with friends, something I haven’t done in years (I found a group that’s willing to deal with the fact that I’m super terrible at basketball)
Here are the basic rules:
Workouts must be a reasonable length and activity level (35 minutes on a stationary bike works for me) – remember, you’re doing this for your own health, so make it count.
Check in by email when you work out – the new week starts on Saturday.
That’s it. My sister and I are pretty honest so it’s worked well so far. We even invited my best friend from college to join in. Now that there’s three people, if you miss a workout, you owe $20 and the ones who did get to split it (i.e., if you work out and the others are slackers – you get $40!).
So, if you’ve wanted to work out and have a buddy that feels the same (and that you trust not to cheat you for $20), I suggest a little wager. It just might do the trick.
This idea is similar to stickk.com, by the way. The best part of that site is that if you lose your bet, an option is that your money could go to fund the charity you hate the most. You can choose from these options, one on each side of the abortion, environmental protection, gay marriage, and gun control debates, as well as two polarizing presidents:
- Americans United for Life
- NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation
- Nature Conservancy
- The National Center for Public Policy Research
- Freedom to Marry
- Institute for Marriage and Public Policy
- Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence
- NRA Foundation
- George W. Bush Presidential Library
- William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library