The 3 F’s Of Fitness

Exercise can be categorized as 3 F’s:

Fun – dancing, hoola-hooping, or playing a sport.
Formal – specific cardio and strength training routines.
Functional – everyday activities like walking, carrying groceries, climbing stairs, etc.

In the weight loss world, every little step counts, and you don’t have to be at the gym to increase your calorie burn.


When it comes to the FUN stuff, spring is a perfect time to explore new types of movement.  My daughter Kate called me from San Francisco to announce her new passion:  Ultimate Frisbee!  While running has always been her competitive sport of choice, she was looking for something new, and decided on a whim to join a friend for a huge Ultimate Frisbee competition in the park. Since she’s a pretty hardcore athlete, she wasn’t expecting much of a challenge, but she was amazed that, after an hour of playing, she got what she dubbed “the workout of a lifetime.”  If you’re in a rut, you’ll be amazed at the results when you try a new type of movement.

So this spring, jump into your own game of Ultimate Frisbee, head to the tennis courts with a friend, or consider adding a few new new dance moves to your weekly routine.  My 4 Weeks to Fit program is a great way to shake things up with fun daily video routines from latin dancing to bellydancing to kickboxing!


While this might not seem as enjoyable (or even practical) as the other stuff, make no mistake: jazzing up your regimen can transform your workouts from a tired chore to a ton of fun.  So call up a friend and start a buddy system to meet for workouts – you’ll exchange tips, ideas, and keep each other motivated.  Jump into a new kettlebell or bootcamp class you’ve never tried.  Make an awesome workout play list on your phone that inspires you to push it to the next level.  Or try working with a personal trainer: many gyms offer one complimentary session, and it’s a great way to learn new techniques and jumpstart your routine.  And, of course, you don’t have to  leave  the comfort of your home.

Remember, having the right tools on hand is the key to success! Your at-home fitness space can be the corner of a room, filled with kettlebells, a step, and a stretching strap. 


Maybe you’ve never before thought of housecleaning as an exercise, but the next time you dread it just shift your mind-set.  Fact is, if you clean vigorously—dusting with a passion, vacuuming with diligence, washing floors enthusiastically—you’ll burn about 60 calories every 15 minutes.

This is a great example of functional exercise, meaning you’d have to do these activities anyway but now you get to think of them as helpful to your health.  Other examples include gardening, parking a little further away from work, or walking to do your errands.

I recommend mixing up formal, functional and fun exercising.  It keeps things interesting, and helps work a variety of muscle groups.  But even if you’re getting little or no exercise, and you’re just not thrilled by the idea of a four-mile jog, it’s easy to find something that burns calories and moves your limbs. Here are 15 ways from Harvard Health Beat to burn 150 calories in fun, functional and formal ways!

When fitness is your goal, at some point you’ll need to mix in fun and functional activities with the formal.  The fun and functional don’t usually give you enough of a cardiovascular workout by themselves.  But they’ll keep your interest level high and help you on days when formal exercise isn’t an option.  They may even lead you into whole new fitness horizons.