How Minimalism Can Transform Your Workout

Written by Leigh Weingus
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If you're in a workout rut, consider applying the concept of minimalism to your exercise routine.

Yes, you read that right. Fitness and minimalism are an unlikely pair, but the two actually complement each other very well. Contrary to the sometimes popular belief that exercise is a necessary evil, your workout of choice should be something you look forward to. It should be a way to get happier or at the very least blow off steam after a long day.

If you allow minimalism to transform your workout, you may find that exercise truly becomes a joyful part of your life. Here's what you need to know to make that happen.

Figure out what type of exercise you love, and do that.

"The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one's hand and ask, 'does it spark joy?'" Marie Kondo writes in her New York Times bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. "If it does, keep it. if not, dispose of it."

Of course, Kondo is talking about clothes, not fitness. But after your weekly hot yoga class it's worth asking yourself: Did that spark joy? If not, maybe hot yoga isn't really your thing. Or perhaps you're more of a HIIT person. In any case, you're a lot more likely to stick to the workout you love.

Joshua Fields Millburn, one half of the duo that founded the website The Minimalists, says finding a workout he loved was integral to his weight loss journey.

"I do only exercises I enjoy. I don't enjoy running, so I don't do it. I attempted it for six months and discovered it wasn't for me," he writes in a blog post. "If you see me running, call the police—someone is chasing me. Instead, I find other ways to do cardio: I walk, I get on the elliptical machine at the gym, I do bodyweight exercises that incorporate cardio."

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Think quality over quantity.

According to the findings of a study conducted on interval training last year, one minute of intense exercise may have the same benefits as 45 minutes of moderate exercise. Kondo encourages us to truly love the possessions in our house, and to not have too many of them. And according to science, this is probably a smart move when you're planning your workouts is well.

In fact, Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology who was part of this research, wrote an entire book around this very topic, aptly title The One-Minute Workout. So yes, busy people—less can be more, even when it comes to exercise.

Make sure you love your activewear, too.

If you're keeping your ratty old sports bra from high school because you might need it someday, it's probably time to throw it away or donate it. Because chances are, you won't need that sports bra later, and every time you put it on it's dragging you down.

In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo writes, "although intuitively we know that an object has no attraction for us, our reason raises all kind of arguments for not discarding it, such as, 'I might need it later' or 'it's a waste to get rid of it.' These thoughts spin round and round in our minds, making it impossible to let go.'"

Sure, you might find yourself in a sticky situation once in a while on laundry day if you only own activewear that you love. But won't you be more likely to actually go to yoga or the gym if you're always wearing an outfit that you feel good in?

If you're still not convinced, consider this: A 2012 study found that we assign symbolic meaning to our clothing. So if we invest in our activewear and love it enough that we'll wear it to other events—brunch, or even happy hour—we're probably more likely to exercise.

"I think it would make sense that when you wear athletic clothing, you become more active and more likely to go to the gym and work out," researcher Hajo Adam told the Atlantic.

Take a deep breath, let go of the things you don't love, and restart your fitness journey. You've got this.

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