Does holding poses in yoga class make you feel restless and bored?
Do the controlled, precise movements of a Barre class feel a little tyrannical?
Maybe you live for your TRX classes and lifting weights, but the rhythmic, steady pace of a bicycle leaves you feeling like you’re being lulled to sleep — and not in a good way.
As it turns out, there might be a reason for all of this.
Like anything else in life, our personality and character determine which types of workouts hold our attention and which ones don’t. Why struggle with a class you hate when you could opt for something that truly feels good to you? Staying motivated to work out on a regular basis is hard enough.
Instead, pick a workout that complements your personality as defined by the Enneagram. Work with who you are instead of against it, and help hone your most positive personality traits through training that leverages your whole self — mind, body, and emotions.
What Is the Enneagram?
Before we get started, let’s go over the Enneagram. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a personality test that classifies people based on their key traits and the unique drive that underlies all their decisions and behaviors.
Much like the Myers-Briggs test, it’s a tool to help people understand more about who they are, how they work, and how to make the most of their unique gifts and talents. It’s also very helpful for understanding other people, learning what motivates them, why they act in certain ways, and how not to take their actions personally.
You can find out what your Enneagram type is through any number of free online Enneagram tests. It’s a pretty simple process and takes around 12 minutes to complete. Once you determine your type, the real fun begins. The way personalities are classified is more complex and dynamic than Myers-Briggs, making it a very unique approach to analyzing personality traits.
Essentially, every person has one distinct, dominant type, but also has multiple subtypes or “wings” that constitute where they come from (the childhood patterns they picked up and cultural conditioning) along with potential future behaviors (as they naturally evolve into other types).
No type is better than the other, but they do follow a natural progression as certain characteristics shift and change. Additionally, there are all sorts of ways that types connect to one another. In fact, everyone is said to contain each type within them to some degree.
The Enneagram has its roots in several ancient traditions, including Greek ones, but its modern revival stems largely from Peruvian philosopher Oscar Ichazo. It’s become a popular tool for self-help, self-discovery, and self-knowledge. Who would have thought it could help you work out too?
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Which Workout Works Best for Your Enneagram Type?
Type 1: The Reformer
There’s always room for improvement, says the Reformer, as they eye their color-coded calendar looking for the perfect workout time slot in which to wear their brand new workout clothes. Luckily, most Barre teachers would agree with you. If you have an eye for detail and a tendency to hone in on what could be tweaked just a little bit more, you will benefit from the eagle-eye gaze of the Barre instructor.
Doing things halfway or sloppily just feels wrong to you, so you need a discipline you can steadily master. The micromovements, focus on alignment, and attention to balance will give your whole body a workout while demanding your innate ability to hyperfocus. After much hard work and discipline, getting a mid-class glimpse of your perfect alignment in the mirror will be the ultimate reward.
Not looking to be a ballerina? Choose another discipline that requires intense focus and control — like running — and set a goal to run the next 5k.
Type 2: The Giver
Devoted, gentle, always putting other people first … if you’re a Giver, it’s likely you have a love-hate relationship with helping others. On the one hand, it soothes you and makes you feel helpful. On the other hand, you sometimes forget to take care of yourself.
Focus on your own well-being by attending yoga classes, from soft and soothing Yin to invigorating Vinyasa. Check in with yourself about which type of class feels best to you that day. This helps you develop the habit of knowing your own emotions and needs. When you take care of yourself, you’re more effective at helping others.
And if you’re in caretaker mode, bring your friend or loved one. You can find balance and soothe emotions together by using an ancient mind-body practice that teaches self-awareness and self-compassion.
Type 3: The Achiever
If competition and success motivate you, what better way to channel that energy than with competitive sports? Your drive to be the best is admirable, Achiever, and your need for attention and praise will be rewarded when you compete in soccer, swimming, tennis, or even CrossFit, a workout that draws other wellness warriors like you!
It’s best to go with the flow of our personality traits instead of fighting against them. Chances are, your fiery competitive nature has brought you both accolades and arguments. So, a slow-moving cycling class might leave you with energy to burn. Work through your competitive streak in a healthy setting where your ambition will earn you praise.
Type 4: The Individualist
Eccentric, artistic, introverted Individualists probably won’t find group classes filled with chattering people particularly exciting. With your flair for expression and need to think and feel deeply, you might gravitate toward expressive movement arts like dance, Acroyoga, or martial arts. Tune into your inner Goddess with belly dancing, channel warrior energy with Tai Chi, or learn to flow with others through a partnered Acroyoga routine.
These types of workouts will help you express yourself through movement and work through any emotional flair-ups that occur in your day-to-day.. As someone who may sometimes feel isolated or misunderstood, you may find the unexpected connections you make during these activities to be just as good as the workout itself.
Type 5: The Investigator
You’re not one to take things at face value, Investigator. Exercising your need for knowledge is as important as exercising your body. You’d do well to experiment with different workouts while using an app to track weight loss, heart rate variability, muscle tone, and any other metrics that are important to you so you can find your optimal workout.
Don’t just accept the status quo — find out for yourself which workouts lead to the best outcomes in physical, emotional, and even mental well-being. Do a little research (we know you want to!) and take your pick of the best fitness apps available. As a fan of evidence-based approaches, you’ll be happy to know that tracking your progress can lead to better fitness outcomes.
Type 6: The Loyalist
Your need for connection is deep, Loyalist, and you’re not one to back out of your commitments. To tap into your innate sense of interconnectedness, you would benefit from attending regular fitness classes so you can get used to seeing the same people. Seeing your workout buddies at least once a week will make getting fit fun and can also help you stay motivated.
Whether it’s Barre, SoulCycle, or Pilates, sign up for a class pass so you can really get to know a studio. Then make it a habit — whether it’s Monday night Soul Cycle or Thursday morning Pilates, keep up with your commitment so you don’t even have to think twice about it. You’ll see fitness results in no time, and you might make some awesome new friends in the process.
Type 7: The Enthusiast
Who says working out needs to be boring? Getting fit doesn’t need to be a chore — and if it is for you, Enthusiast, you’re just not likely to stick with it. Ditch the gym and its lackluster lighting and head to a fun dance class.
There are so many options, and you don’t have to limit yourself to in-person classes. Choose from hip-hop, ballet, belly dancing, and more. Just be sure to pick a style you love with music you love and, hopefully, a teacher you love. Make working out so fun that you don’t want to skip a session.
Most dance workouts will work your whole body, and you’ll also be getting the benefits of better coordination. Plus, dancing is a great form of self-expression that will help you channel your passionate, excitable nature.
Type 8: The Challenger
You might butt heads with people every now and again, but the world needs your ferocity. Who else can take on enormous challenges with such intensity, whether you’re defending those you love or advocating for the environment? All that pent-up energy needs an outlet, so some form of martial arts or boxing lessons will do you a world of good.
Get yourself to the gym or kickboxing studio and find yourself a teacher who will push you to be the best you can be. We know you won’t back down from the challenge, and you’ll have a safe space to release that fiery energy. Plus, the strategic nature of these arts will help you learn when to pull back and when to let loose, training you in the self-control that’s key to mastering your personality.
Type 9: The Peacemaker
You keep balance and equanimity top of mind, Peacemaker. People look to you as an example for your groundedness, strength, and ability to harmonize even the toughest of situations. Cultivate your sense of inner strength and wisdom through regular forays into the natural world. A hike, run, or walk in nature will help you shake off the residue of your daily interactions, ground into your body, and connect you to the cosmos.
You’re often drawn to spiritual or philosophical wisdom, which means personal time and space for reflection are key. A solo hike along the coast, a trek along the river, or even just a walk in the nearest city park will refresh your mind, body, emotions, and spirit. Try walking without any music or other media playing to really tap into the magic of the moment.
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Make Working Out Work for You!
Our lives are already filled with responsibilities. When working out feels like a chore, it becomes just another item on our neverending to-do list. Picking a workout that enhances your most positive personality traits and helps you hone your mental, emotional, and physical skills can make it easier. Not only that, it makes exercising enjoyable. Life isn’t meant to be celebrated in those few moments of free time at the end of the day. We want to cultivate happiness throughout the day. The right workout will help you do that so you can live a life of purpose, happiness, and greatness!