The Color of Fitness

December 23, 2013

What kind of personality do you have?

The famous psychologis Carl Jung compared the pattern of human psychological growth to that of a pine tress. There are no two pines that grow the same. He believed human life and development embodied this process in which growth was ever changing, unpredictable and challenging. We each grow toward our own unique potential.

In his work, he broke personality types down into two specific groups: introverts (less sociable, more withdrawn, and absorbed in inner life) and extroverts (outgoing, sociable, and optimistic). The goal of research by Isabelle Briggs Meyer and her mother Mary Brigss was to be able to apply the work of Jung. They sought to make his insights accessible to individuals and groups. They developed a personality test to help identify how people perceive the world and make decisions. Our perceptions give us specific information regarding people, places and things. Our judgments create conclusions about what we perceived. Differences in how we perceive and judge affect our interests, values, choices, skill, motivations and performance.

Have you taken the Myers-Briggs personality test? If you have, isn’t it crazy how close your personality type applies to your life after 20 minutes worth of questions? Personality is an important factor in how we relate to each other and how we perform in our jobs.

So is it such a stretch to venture that personality applies to exercise?

In Suzanne Brue’s book, The 8 Colors of Fitness, the author begins to map the influence of personality type to exercise and the results are fascinating. Why is this important? As we head in to a new year and the resolution pressure builds, it is important to know that whether you reach your fitness goal or not depends largely on the kind of exercises you choose. There is an old saying that goes, “the best exercise is the one you’ll do.” Just do it is a cool slogan, but it misses the mark if the goal is to do it until you’ve reached your goal.

“Research suggests that people who engage in personality-appropriate activities will stick with the activities longer, enjoy their workout more and ultimately have a greater overall fitness experience,” says Susan Davis-Ali, PhD, a researcher who developed a fitness interest profile test for Life Time Fitness. (Take Davis-Ali’s quiz at

Brue’s book is the first one we know about that creates a system to help direct you toward an exercise approach you’ll do based on the Meyer Briggs Personality indicators (MBTI). She modified the information and made them into an easily maneuverable color-coded fitness personality model.

Brue breaks it down — surprise, surprise —  in to 8 colors of fitness: blues, golds, reds, greens, silvers, saffrons, whites, and purples.


The examiner and the defender personality types are loyal and straightforward. They are committed to goals and will often submit to the advice of those in the know. Blues are more likely to want a step-by-step approach and to use the most proven methods.  , Blues value a chance to learn from qualified experts who, as professionals, can carefully take them through the steps.


The overseer and the supporter personality types are conventional and traditional. As a result structure is important. Golds want purposeful exercise as a part of a balanced life. There’s also a sense in which Golds need an ordered approach working from one part of the body to the next. Golds consult authoritative resources for information, gravitating toward exercise based on proven methods, tested and trusted. Golds prefer to learn the proper technique for developing one muscle group to their satisfaction before going on to the next.


The persuader and the entertainer are fast and energetic. As part of the extroversion, they like being a part of the action and want to have a highly sensory workout. Reds tend toward spontaneity and enjoying achieving many short-term goals. Reds are drawn to fast-paced activities that involve speed and thrills and that demand quick reflexes — such as basketball, tennis, or mountain biking.


The craftsman and the artist personality types enjoy being a part of nature. They are well aware of their surroundings and need a highly purposeful exercise program. They need to workout in order to do something else — such as the ability to spend time outdoors. Greens will use gyms and equipment to increase their stamina for an outdoor challenge that is important to them.


The originator and the advocate personality types are powered by something new. They are most likely to engage in the newest exercise techniques. Silvers enjoy exercising with others and making a game out of the process. They either want to make exercise a foundational component to their lives or they want their exercise to be simple. Either way, fitness needs to be easy. Exercise is best when taken out of the context of pure exercise and wrapped in the guise of something else, such as a challenge, adventure, and exploration, or spending time with people.


The engineer and the dreamer personality types want things to be clear and they need to be able to answer the “why”. They need exercises that require little planning and the unexpected things that occur during exercise make it more enjoyable. Saffrons have an internal level of competition and a desire to make personal bests. This, in turn, leads to a level of perfectionism. Independent, Saffrons are drawn to activities that require a high level of performance. They find satisfaction in physical pursuits that push them to higher fitness levels. Saffrons maintain physical activity by finding elements of challenge, fun, freedom, and flow.


The strategist and the confidant personality types are big pictured and abstract. They need time for reflection before they pursue any fitness activity and they want to make sure it’s the best choice. Whites are disciplined and give much thought to the connections between mind, body, and spirit. Disciplined and independent, whites are self-organized and attracted to physical exercise they can structure at their own pace.


The chief and the mentor personality types are confident and loquacious. They keep within a plan of action and enjoy fulfilling that plan. Purples will at times reach out and take chances on other exercises but often revert back to form. In fact, the routine allows purples to move to a place where they can act creatively on other topics. They take advantage and enjoy the amenities of a well-appointed club — all part of the routine.

Know Yourself. Know Your Exercises

While this gives you a brief overview of the ways personality influences your fitness, the bottom line is to best apply a plan that fits with your personality. By doing so, you can be more confident that you will reach your fitness goals. If you are a people person who enjoys new ideas, it’s not a good idea to use a steady workout routine. If you can better understand how your personality applies to your workouts, you’ll see better results!

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