One of the goals I have set for myself the past two years has been to get in 200 workouts a year. Why 200?
It’s a nice round number so it feels more important that 204 or 196. It’s a reference point for doing something big and hard and consistent that matters to me (more on why it matters below).
It’s easy to remember and easy to break down into manageable chunks and a reasonable pace. If I hit a regular pace of 4 workouts / week or a rolling 16/28 days of working out, then it all rolls up to exceed 200 in a year.
200 workouts per year is also easy to remember and communicate. I don’t need any barriers to doing the work of the workouts and the easier it is to refer to and have others understand, the better.
In 2021 I made it just by the skin of my teeth to 200. My December was full of workouts to make my goal.
In 2022, I exceeded my goal by a solid margin.
How did I get to 200 workouts?
I don’t mean to be trite by saying the simple thing, but that’s what it is: I took it 1 day at a time and 1 workout at a time.
And I started by changing the default for every day so I had to opt out of a workout instead of opting in.
Every day in my calendar is a workout. Do I have time? Maybe. But having the workout already in there changes the question from if I’ll do something to when. For me, that splits the internal conversation into 2 parts and makes for easier answers:
- Part 1 is the planner part of my brain. The planner decides when to do the workout and what workout to do. That requires balancing out all the other things I need to do and what workout I’m going to do.
- Part 2 is the execution part of my brain. Now, I tell myself, just show up and do the work.
When I book the calendar event I make sure to put in enough time to do the full workout routine: fill my water, get on workout gear, get equipment together (if needed), work out, cool down, shower, get dressed and back into life.
For me, that almost always equals 90 minutes, so that’s the default calendar event I have every day. Sometimes I lengthen it or shorten it, but that’s the default.
I log my workouts on my phone in the Health app. I manually enter each of them. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough. Then I can always see how I’m doing on the rolling 7-day and 28-day calendars.
What counts as a workout?
It’s up to you what you want to count. I have arrived at a place where will count any time I’m focused primarily on exercising my body. I might be doing something else at the same time, but the time is primarily exercise.
So a workout can be walking for an hour (~6 kms) while I have my weekly call with my brother. It can be riding my bike to do a bunch of errands, if I’m getting in enough distance and focusing for a period of the time on just working out.
A workout can be a solo workout at the park or outdoor stairs with bodyweight resistance. It can be a gym workout while I’m travelling. It can be a programmed workout at a studio. It can be a hike in the woods. It can be a half hour swim while my son does his swimming lesson. It can be a hockey practice or skating session. It can be a day skiing.
Those are all things I’ve counted.
Things I haven’t counted are times when I haven’t been focused on exercise, like riding with my son to school, running a hockey practice, commuting by bike or walking with a friend.
But I also give myself some flexibility to the criteria of what gets counted.
I had a total hip replacement surgery almost 2 years ago now and when I was recovering I counted my physio sessions, though they weren’t particularly taxing. They were focused on just my body and they were dedicated time. I counted shorter, slow walks that I could take – a few hundred meters on crutches at first. Anytime I was focused on just exercise or serving my body and its fitness for a sustained period, I counted.
Why I shoot for 200 workouts per year
By this point you might be wondering why I do this. Maybe I should have started answering this question.
In any case, I find there are a few layers to my answer.
First up, I have gone through periods of my life (adolescent and adult) where I have been more active and fit versus less active and fit.
I have definitely been happier in the times when I’m more active and fit. I’m also more balanced and more emotionally stable. Body and mind go together. Go figure.
Second, I have seen what a lack of fitness does to my life, and it sucks and scares me.
I had osteoarthritis in my left hip, diagnosed in my early 20s. On and off, that has caused me some pain over the following 20+ years. But the pain is only part of the story. The other effect has been that it has narrowed the range of things I can / will do. My physical world shrank as the disease progressed. I no longer could run and play soccer with my son and his friends. I couldn’t or didn’t want to walk to the corner store because it would hurt for the rest of the day.
Third, I’m really competitive. Focusing that competitive drive into something positive that I can win at is good for me and people around me. I like to think the maturing element of my competitive drive has become I’m only really competing with myself. But if you are ahead of me on the bike path, I’m going to try to keep up and / or pass.
Lastly, I feel a sense of duty to the people I care about to be able to show up for them as my best self – capable, stable, balanced, happy. For me, that means dedicating time to fitness.
I also coach kids and feel a significant drive to provide a working model of fitness they can see in action. It’s impossible in my mind to ask them to exert themselves with their best effort if I haven’t earned the right to do so by doing it myself.
So, that’s it. Questions? Feedback?
I’d love to hear what works for you.