#Health & Fitness

Cult of Personality: What Your Workout Says About You

by Molly Mann

Cult of Personality: What Your Workout Says About You

Your favorite fitness fix could say a lot more about you than you think.


What you wear says a lot about you, as does where you buy your groceries (yuppie Whole Foods shopper or Waldbaum’s bargain hunter?), how you commute to work (conscientious cycler or SUV gas guzzler?), and even what you order for lunch (disciplined salad muncher or zest-for-life pasta fiend?). It’s the little things that draw the biggest pictures of our personality. So it should come as no surprise that our individual fitness routines tell the stories of our lives, too.


What does your workout project about your personality? Suzanne Brue, author of The 8 Colors of Fitness, is the first to create a system of evaluating exercise regimens based on the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment. She’s classified people’s workouts into eight color-coded categories that correspond to their general personality traits. Are you a safety-conscious blue or a fun and flexible silver? Read on to find out.


Personality Is a Four-Letter Word

The Myers-Brigg assessment determines your four-letter personality profile by classifying your behavior patterns in four distinct areas. Are you an introvert (I) who draws on inner resources for motivation, or are you an extrovert (E) who draws her energy from the world around her? Do you process information through intuition (N) and gut feelings, or do you rely instead on sensing (S) and seeking out hard facts and data? Are you a thinker (T) with detached and analytical reasoning habits, or a feeler (F) who makes emotional decisions? Finally, do you tend to judge (J) people and situations, finding comfort in definite answers and closure, or do you prefer to fully perceive (P) the world around you, keeping your options open before drawing any conclusions?


There are sixteen possible permutations of these traits, which Brue has combined so that they reflect the following eight fitness types.


Blue: Safety-Conscious (ISTJ, ISFJ)

Blues correspond to the MBTI personalities of ISTJ and ISFJ. They are straightforward and conscientious, especially when it comes to safety. Blues are the people who stick to the same gym machines, usually sporting a heart monitor or pedometer. They’re also introverts who will create their own space by reading books or magazines on the treadmill or elliptical trainer. Blues prefer repetitive, rhythmic exercises that allow them to track their progress easily. Rowing, running, walking, yoga, and weight training all appeal to this personality type.


Gold: Traditional and Social (ESTJ, ESFJ)

Like blues, golds are also traditional and conservative, but they’re more outgoing. They look to authority figures, like doctors and trainers, to help them build their fitness routines around proven methods. They also seek precision in all things and often ask for help in perfecting their forms. Group classes, such as yoga and Pilates, satisfy this desire for authority and positive reinforcement, as does working closely with a personal trainer. Golds also enjoy swimming, tennis, and hiking because these activities have clear, specific goals and accessible role models.


Green: Nature Lover (ISTP, ISFP)

You’ll almost never find greens in the gym. That’s because they’re outside, getting their exercise the natural way. They usually prefer to be alone, working toward a set goal or just attuning themselves to the rhythms of the outdoors. You’ll find greens hiking, biking, mountain climbing, or running, though they may do some weight lifting to train for a long hike or climb.


Red: Enthusiastic and Competitive (ESTP, ESFP)

Reds have a ton of energy and a competitive spirit. They want to be where the action is. Like greens, reds see the gym as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. Treadmills are just too boring for these guys. Unless they’re power-lifting, reds would much rather be outside, playing a team sport or a pickup game, such as basketball, beach volleyball, or touch football, with their friends. 


White: Independent and Introspective (INTJ, INFJ)

Whites use the rhythm of exercise to help them get more in touch with themselves. They prefer their own spaces and tried-and-true routines that leave their minds free. You’ll typically find whites at the gym during off-peak hours, listening to their iPods on treadmills or elliptical trainers. Whites tend to avoid group classes, since they resent any outward interference in their routines. They prefer hiking, running, yoga (done alone), and cardio and strength training at the gym. 


Saffron: Expressive and Spontaneous (INTP, INFP)

Brue writes that she chose the color saffron to represent this workout personality because it commands attention in a warm, comfortable way that is also subtle. Saffrons, too, are lively but not extravagant. They struggle with motivation if they aren’t in the mood. Yet they also seek challenges and don’t let their desire for fun lapse into frivolity. Saffrons do best when they mix up their workouts and choose fun activities. Dancing, group classes such as Zumba and spinning, and biking all appeal to these vivacious types. If they do work out on machines, saffrons will always have a great mix of funky beats to keep them motivated. 


Silver: Fun and Flexible (ENTP, ENFP)

Silvers get their energy from people, music, and a fun atmosphere. They tend to have more focus than saffrons; this gives them a skill set that makes them well suited for jobs as group-fitness instructors, according to Brue. Their workout style is flowing, building upon a collective momentum. Any rhythmic activity that tunes out distractions is ideal for silvers, who tend to enjoy tai chi, jogging, and group classes like spinning, Zumba, Nia, and yoga. 


Purple: Routine-Oriented (ENTJ, ENFJ)

Though purples are also extroverted, they tend to stick with one or two regular workout buddies. (More than that might interfere with their routines and deter them from their goals.) Purples choose uncomplicated regimens that are often repetitive; lap swimming, interval training, running, cycling, and walking all appeal to them. Though they find comfort in routine, purples need to be pushed to mix it up a little bit, or they run the risk of developing stress fractures, tendonitis, and other repetitive stress injuries. 


Color Me Fit

If you’re interested in finding out more about your workout color, check out Brue’s quiz on her web site. And remember—any exercise, no matter what the color, is good exercise. If you’re a blue who wants to test her mettle and get dirty with the reds now and then, don’t let Brue’s categories stop you. They’re meant to be a guide for developing a workout that truly satisfies you, because the number one goal of any sound fitness regime.