Creating healthy exercise habits is the secret to getting fit for life, but being a habitual exerciser doesn't always deliver the best results. Fitness authority Bevan James Eyles says identifying the type of exerciser you are will help you ramp up the return on your exercise efforts.

Emma Hogan (EH): You’ve spent 20+ years working in gyms, you train high-performance athletes and you’ve taught thousands of group fitness classes. Tell us about the four types of exerciser …

Bevan James Eyles (BJE): Firstly, there is the non-exerciser, which is pretty self-explanatory. It’s not that these people haven’t tried to exercise, they’ve just been unsuccessful so they’ve given up. The yo-yo exerciser is someone who consistently has moments of exercise in their life and then they fall away from it. Over time they can fall into becoming a non-exerciser. The habit exerciser is in a good place and exercising regularly, but often they’re just ticking the exercise box. Doing the same activities week in and out, they aren’t making any gains and getting all the value from exercise that they could be. The thriver is someone who is getting the most from exercise – whether it be the physical results they get, the personal growth, the psychological benefits and the social aspects.

EH: Being a thriver and enjoying all the benefits of exercise sounds like the place to be. Should we all aim to hit the thrive zone?

BJE: If you’re not exercising or you’re a yo-yo exerciser, you need to first become a habit person and start working out consistently. Then, when you’re a habit exerciser, you need to be looking for opportunities to move into the thrive zone.

“If you’re not experiencing that thriving feeling, you’re missing out on some of the best benefits that exercise has to offer.”

EH: Experts say creating a habit of exercise is the #1 secret to success. Isn’t consistency king?

BJE: Yes, of course! Having a habit of regular exercise is a good thing, it means you’re keeping fit and healthy – which is fantastic. If you’re happy in the habit zone, stay there. But maybe once or twice a year, throw in a few ways to challenge yourself. Why? Because it just feels so good! Challenging yourself will take you into the thrive zone, and when you’re thriving, it’s so motivating and stimulating. I really feel that if you’re not experiencing that thriving feeling you’re missing out on some of the best benefits that exercise has to offer.

EH: How do we know when it’s a good time to push ourselves into the thrive zone?

BJE: It’s only through reflection that you can find a better path forward – and often habit exercisers stop reflecting on their journey. Wherever you’re at, I encourage you to delve deep and ask yourself some hard questions: Am I getting everything I want out of exercise? Am I actually achieving the results that I desire from the time I spend exercising? And, what am I doing that’s keeping me in a place that’s afraid to grow.

Of course, you have to be honest with yourself. If your life is extremely busy and you just don’t have time to commit to that next level of exercise, then you’ve just got to accept that that’s a time to stay in that habit zone of exercise.

  • Am I getting everything I want out of exercise?
  • Am I actually achieving the results that I desire from the time I spend exercising?
  • What am I doing that’s keeping me in a place that’s afraid to grow?

EH: What are the steps you need to take to thrive?

BJE: It starts with self-assessment. Determining where you want to grow is key, it could be physically, psychologically, socially … Then once you know where you want to grow, you need to put a challenge in front of yourself. Nothing too ambitious, it’s important to be realistic. Running a marathon is one of the most obvious and common challenges, but it’s not for everyone. You could challenge yourself to do 20 group fitness classes in a month. Or challenge yourself to try a different type of movement – perhaps doing every type of LES MILLS workout in a month? While it doesn't need to be overly ambitious, it must be a goal you'll feel proud to achieve. When you tick it off, you want to feel like you've won the lottery.”

  • Run a marathon (or half marathon)
  • Do 20 group fitness classes within a month
  • Explore new exercise options and try every different LES MILLS workout within a month
  • Add a social element to your exercise by organizing an adventure weekend away with friends

EH: So thriving clearly feels amazing. Can we strive for too much of a good thing?

BJE: It’s pretty impossible to be thriving 100% of the time. Ideally, you want a 70/30 split where you're thriving most of the time but you often pull back to a baseline level of activity. Identifying this baseline level of activity is really important. If you’re consciously aware of the minimum standard you are happy with, this baseline acts as an alarm bell that goes off when you start to slip off track.

Keeping your baseline behaviors front of mind will ensure you don’t peak and then slip back down to the bottom. This is the biggest mistake many on a weight loss journey make – they don't identify a minimum standard of habit behaviors, so they eventually drift back to where they were at the beginning.

EH: You say one of the best things anyone can do in life is to invest in a mentor. Why is this?

BJE: If you want to grow, working with a mentor is one of the fastest ways to do it. One of the biggest mistakes we humans make is to think we can do it all ourselves. On any new journey, if you’re going it alone you don’t know the hurdles you’re going to face and you don’t know how to overcome them. When you have a mentor who has been in your shoes and helped others in your shoes, they will show you the hurdles and give you the strategies to overcome them. It’s the fastest way to make your journey a success.

Bevan James Eyles is a New Zealand-based fitness industry leader, group fitness instructor and regular presenter on LES MILLS releases. He has completed eight Ironmans, run numerous marathons and half marathons, and now coaches everyone from elite athletes to beginner exercisers on how to smash their goals.

Bevan's podcast, The Bevan James Eyles Fitness Behaviour Podcast, is available on iTunes and Spotify.

Keen to work out with Bevan? Give BODYATTACK #109 or BODYATTACK #105 a go using LES MILLS+.