A Fitness Match Made in Heaven: Your Personality And Your Favourite Sport

For a long time, I’ve always believed that you need to find the right sport or physical activity that matches your personality to feed your motivation forever.  This wonderful personality-sport fusion, will keep you cycling, jogging, hiking, walking, golfing or

Cycling feeds another passion: travel and time to savour sights. Cascade Mountain, part of Canadian Rockies. On Banff Legacy bike path north from Canmore, AB 2012. Photo by J. Chong
Cycling feeds another passion: travel and time to savour sights. Cascade Mountain, part of Canadian Rockies. On Banff Legacy bike path north from Canmore, AB 2012. Photo by J. Chong

lawn-bowling for many years.

Having Different Habits and Social Needs: Finding the Right Fit, Passion
I used to extoll the virtues of cycling to anyone that was willing to listen. No more.  Not everyone is suited for cycling, rollerblading or swimming.  We are creatures of habits

2010 Olympic women's hockey semi-final game: Switzerland vs. Russia. Vancouver, BC. Photo by J. Chong
2010 Olympic women’s hockey semi-final game: Switzerland vs. Russia. Vancouver, BC. Photo by J. Chong

with different patterns and socialization needs with others.  Or not socializing with others…which is why some of us revel in the solitary walk or bike ride at times.

Team Sports Not For Everyone
When I was a child, I enjoyed playing softball  daily under the hot summer with other girls before and after school. Our school had segregated sex playgrounds. Our softball diamonds for both guys and girls, were asphalt pavement. Our school playgrounds did not have grass. But no matter, kids played softball, soccer on the playground in the late 1960’s to 1970’s at our school.

Practicing caperio, a dance-like Brazilian form of martial arts. Vancouver BC 2012. Photo by J. Chong
Practicing capoeria, a dance-like Brazilian form of martial arts. Vancouver BC 2012. Photo by J. Chong

But gradually, I started to withdraw from team sports.  I didn’t like the reminder, that really, I wasn’t as athletically inclined as some other girls in volleyball and basketball.  Team sports forced me to compare my performance against other players.

I  also didn’t like the dependency of my role as a team player for  the team’s overall winning or losing stance.  I tried field hockey for a few weeks, but dropped out.  I can’t even remember the reason. Field hockey was clashing at the same time, with my rising passion in art and poetry writing –both solitary activities.

Hiking in canyon areas near Sante Fe, New Mexico 2005. Photo by J. Becker
Hiking in canyon area near Sante Fe, New Mexico 2005. Photo by J. Becker

Physical Activities- Going Solo But with Choices for Companionship
In the background of my maturing body and angst of teenage years, I was still biking occasionally around my neighbourhood on a  one-speed bike that I shared with 3 other sisters. (A fourth sister was still too young to bike.)

I didn’t go very far, but I loved cycling because there was no team to please nor need to conform within the game rules.  I could bike at my own pace.  Besides, as the eldest child, it was a temporary escape from looking after younger siblings.

Kayaking for health and to see more wonderous sights. Doubtful Sound, South Island. New Zealand 2002. Photo by J. Becker
Kayaking to see more wonderous sights. Doubtful Sound, South Island. New Zealand 2002. Photo by J. Becker. Part of a solo 6-month cycling trip for Becker.

My return to cycling at 32 yrs. after abandoning cycling when I was 20, was partially fuelled by these happy childhood and teen memories.

Cycling suits my natural introverted tendencies.  But  cycling also fits my occasional need to socialize and share cycling passion with others if I want:  by riding non-competitively in small groups or in large mega charity cycling events.  Or riding often with Jack or a good friend.

Sport as Springboard for Advocacy, Travel
Cycling also has been a springboard for me in  advocacy work by encouraging cycling for health and transportation and supporting improved cycling infrastructure through the efforts of local cycling organizations, in cities where I’ve lived.

Cycling by Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta 2012. Photo by J. Becker
Cycling by Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta 2012. Photo by J. Becker

Cycling, like hiking, kayaking, rowing, snowshoeing or cross country skiing, have provided me opportunities to travel and enjoy local corners and far-flung foreign scenery from a completely unique perspective that cars cannot sometimes reach.

So all above motivators have kept me on the bike saddle, year after year, for the past 21 years.

Highland dancers at a bike festival who impressed bystanders in summer heat. Calgary AB 2012. Photo by J. Chong
Highland dancers at a bike festival who impressed bystanders in summer heat. Calgary AB 2012. Photo by J. Chong

Lifelong Dancing with Your Physical Activity Muse 
I wonder whenever I hear of those who try all sorts of different sports and diets to lose weight and improve their fitness, but are failing in their efforts long term.  Have they found the magic physical fitness bullet that fills both their personal physical and mental soul?

Have they found the sport that matches their personality?  Or are they wasting unhappy energy latching onto a sport that is the current rage that everyone is practicing?Is it a team sport that a person can easily meld their social needs and schedules to play with others?  Or is it a solo based performance sport that appeals to their introverted or solo-motivated tendencies? Is it a sport that has flexibility for a person to practice it happily solo or in groups?

Snowshoeing Tram Line. Lake Louise, AB 2012. Photo by J. Chong
Snowshoeing Tram Line. Lake Louise, AB 2012. Photo by J. Chong

By landing on a sport that you enjoy practicing, it becomes naturally integrated into the rhythms of your day, week and onward, for many years.  Your choice of regular physical activity then, becomes not a chore, but a welcome break and necessary, like brushing your teeth.

Whether it’s gardening, lacrosse, Highland dancing or yoga, may you discover a physical activity, that lights the fuse of your motivation, inspiration and leads you to more related passions, friends and good health for life.

Fun photo for possible sport choices for a cycling family. MEC Bikefest 2012. Calgary, AB.
Fun photo for possible sport choices for a cycling family. MEC Bikefest 2012. Calgary, AB. Even baby in mother’s backpack carrier is part of the fun. (Sorry: Wiring and lightbulb runs through the photo booth.)

Further Reading:
Chong, Jean. Blogging and Cycling: It’s Like a Drug. In One Cool Blogging Tips Blog. Nov. 11, 2011.

A Google search under keywords, sport and personality, will yield a plethora of scholarly journal articles on the relationship between choice of sport and personality.

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27 Comments Add yours

  1. Jean, I loved this piece. I’ve long believed that exercise works best when you’re invested, and the way I become invested may be different than the way another person becomes invested. Really well done! Thank you so, so much!

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    1. Jean says:

      Totally agree about personal heart-felt investment in an exercise that one intuitively enjoys. Thanks for dropping by, Courtenay.

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      1. It’s my pleasure! It’s always lovely to talk to you, Jean!

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  2. Interesting post, and I too have enjoyed rowing, cycling, walking/hiking, cross country skiing. And swimming. Guess I wasn’t a teamy sport person either. Some great photos there, but love that one of you by Bow Valley.

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    1. Jean says:

      Rowing, swimming or any other water sport, I wouldn’t get into since I don’t know how to swim roughseasinthemed. Takes awhile for some people (including myself) to find an exercise to embrace and enjoy it for many years onward.

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  3. Very lovely post. I used to like volleyball in college, but couldn’t really get into it because I was not particularly good at it and felt like dragging my teammates down with me. I also liked and still like pingpong which is quite popular everywhere in China. But the one fitness routine that I can really keep up is walking. I can really picture me cycling, too – there are so many benefits. Glad you are into it!

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    1. Jean says:

      Hope you continue to walk and cycle to explore new things –and with your family at times. I did play volleyball for a short time. It was more of a social thing. And did get to watch, (not play) some very good table top tennis players.

      One guy’s brother was Canada’s national champion. So everyone in that social circle were enthusiastic casual players. Most recently we were surprised to see my 83 yr. old father try to play it. We learned he used to play it for fun in school …decades ago.

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  4. Great point about sport matching personality. That’s precisely why I eat Oreos and write a humor blog for sport. 😉 I also play tennis . . .

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    1. Jean says:

      And that explains why sometimes my mid-destination is an artisanal bakery during a long bike ride. Or finding an excuse which is easy for a 86 km. round trip bike ride to have a brunch of an Eggs Benedict over crab cakes with chipotle ailoi. Afterwards I rode for 40 km. into a strong headwind. I was beat for the rest of the evening.

      But I didn’t need supper.

      Happy tennis matches!

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  5. John Jr says:

    This was a well written post Jean, and I agree with you; and thank you for sharing some of your personal history.

    It is very important to find a sport/exercise routine/exercises/et cetera that will work for/fit/match/et cetera you as an individual; and that that will be more likely for you to continue doing possibly for the rest of your life if you are lucky.

    That makes things a lot more enjoyable and increases your chances of doing that activity.

    For me it is currently jogging in the yard three times a week and walking several times a day in the yard, that I like to do. 🙂

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    1. Jean says:

      And meanwhile enjoy Nature in your yard. Maybe chat up with a neighbour. Blog in sunshine. 🙂 It’s all good!

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      1. John Jr says:

        Those are some good ideas too for those with an environment, personality, and neighbors fit for that; but in my situation/environment I can enjoy the nature part usually but not do the other two things due a variety of factors/reasons usually. 😉

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  6. timethief says:

    Another terrific post!
    P.S. You typed On Cool Site rather than One Cool Site 🙂

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  7. Ray Colon says:

    Hi Jean,

    I didn’t realize that you had an extended period of years when you didn’t cycle. Because of you’re enthusiasm for it, I imagined that cycling had been an ever-present part of your life all along.

    I’ve tried running in the past, but my passions lie in team sports — basketball and softball. I loved to play both constantly as a child, but had continued to participate for many years as an adult. Those sports, particularly basketball, are rough on middle-aged bodies. I’m okay while I’m playing, but it takes me longer and longer to recover as time goes on.

    The advocacy aspect of cycling is intriguing. Doing good while staying fit seems like a great combination.

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    1. Jean says:

      Team sports later in life are a great way to socialize also with other people beyond the humdrum of daily life. Hope you find something in addition to basketball that is as equally fun.

      I had some completely different interests prior to cycling –it was not advocacy in cycyling, but in race relations. Believe me there is a natural synergy between the 2, same skills can transfer in speaking out, public education, etc.

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  8. Wonderful post, Jean. I especially enjoyed hearing a bit about your younger self. The thought of you sharing that one-speed bike with all your sisters was charming– I’ve still got a big smile on my face thinking about it.

    I, too, have a “biking gap” in my personal history. I probably stopped riding when I was in junior high, then got back into it around age 27, and have been riding every since. Your point about finding some form of exercise that’s a good personality match and can be a life-long source of enjoyment is very wise indeed.

    Again, great post, happy trails! : )

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    1. Jean says:

      It’s always a good thing to rediscover something a person has enjoyed and pursue regularily later in life. I know personally many cyclists who are like us –getting back into some cycling at mid-life and later. It’s easier on the knees and not as hard on the body compared to jogging.

      And a bike gets you faster to places compared to jogging –no matter how slow one cycles.

      Hope you have tailwinds in your rides around town!

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  9. it looks like cycling in the mountains is always more fun to you too

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    1. Jean says:

      I love cycling in areas surrounded by mountains, but not necessarily cycling up mountains which I have yet to try a real mountain. I’ve been a long time cyclist which is probably odd. But no rush right now. 🙂

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  10. I really enjoyed this post! I found in high school that running was my “escape” and i’ve never stopped. I don’t care how cold, hot or nice it is, or how mad or happy I may be at any given time, a 5 mile run makes the world a better place! Thanks for the post!

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Great you landed on something to make things better to carry on. Thanks for dropping by!

      Like

  11. I would never have thought I would have got into karate, but a salesman called, and I found it fit my spiritual bent. I like the people, too. And we don’t hit each other hard.

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    1. Jean says:

      Glad you found your fitness passion in karate. I suspect there must be some basic principles common to all martial arts: body balance, alignment and how to direct one’s energy if necessary. But I’m not familiar much with karate. By the way, gentle-looking tai chi has some manoeuvres based on about how to deflect negative (violent) energy/force with the stroke of an opposing arm or leg.

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