I spent 3 hours in the gym tonight. I hate going to the gym. Or at least I used to.

The idea of mindlessly lifting weights up and down...even with the mental distraction of a Lex Fridman or Acquired podcast was never very attractive to me. I went through brief periods of my life where I regularly lifted weights in the gym. It was easiest when I found friends to lift with. But as people came and go it was hard to keep up.

So what changed? I swapped the weight lifting gym for the climbing gym...bouldering gym to be more precise.

Bouldering gives me the strength and core training I greatly needed while providing the social and mental engagement that makes me keep wanting to go back.

I've always found traditional weight gyms not very social. People are rarely very friendly or interested in interacting with others. Beyond asking for a quick spot or if someone's using a machine, no one really talks. The crowd is usually some combination of massive dudes who want to be left alone with their beloved weights and girls focused more on taking selfies for instagram. Everyone has AirPods in and seems deeply engrossed in their workout mix or favorite podcast.

In contrast, bouldering gyms are very social. The colored routes we try to climb are literally called "problems" and collaboration is great for problem solving. When you're on the wall, it's hard to see what all four of your limbs are doing at all times and often times a second or third pair of eyes makes the "problem" much easier to solve.

The better I get at bouldering, the more frequently and the longer I want to go. I don't think of it of an exercise or strength training choose, but a fun activity I "get" to do a couple times a week as a reward at the end of the day. And there in lies the hack...take what you "need" to do (eg. build strength, exercise) and keep trying activities that can get you what you need until you find one that you find fun.

Relying on willpower alone is a recipe for failure...very few people "like" or "want" to exercise. And it's not just exercise but anything that you "should" be doing that you are having trouble doing. So don't beat yourself up if you don't want to or like doing it either. There's nothing wrong with you. Just keep trying activities until you find one that clicks and feels like fun and everything else will fall into place.