Optimist or pessimist? How attitude affects your workouts

As I sat down to write this post, I happened upon a quote (thanks Tiffany of The Gracious Pantry, and of course, Henry Ford, who said it first!) that perfectly captured the ideas I had been pondering. It’s all about attitude.

how attitude affects your workout

Is the cup half full or half empty?

Do you think you can or do you have doubts?

Are you your own fiercest coach or biggest under-miner?

When it comes to exercise, attitude is everything.

Optimist or pessimist? Think about how attitude affects your workouts.

In my job as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor I see examples of exercise optimists and pessimists on a daily basis.

Optimists are always up for a challenge. They willingly try the most difficult level of an exercise first, only scaling it back if they truly can’t manage to do it in proper form. They accept the heaviest weights offered and are determined to finish a set, no matter how demanding, even when I give them the option of quitting early. They smile while they exercise (sometimes that smile is forced through gritted teeth, but it is a smile, none the less!).

Although they may not be the strongest, leanest or fittest members at the gym, they are my favourite clients to work with. Sessions are fun, productive and rewarding, and leave me feeling good about my role as a trainer.

Contrast exercise optimists with their pessimistic counterparts.

Although clearly (to me!) capable of performing challenging exercises, they regularly finish their sets early, fail to take the initiative in progressing their programs and upping their weights, and routinely tell me they’re not sure they can do what I ask of them. They attempt to distract me with questions (yes, I know this is a stalling tactic :)).

Which group is more likely to stick with an exercise program and reap its benefits?

You guessed it! The more positive and can-do the attitude the better the adherence to the program. Although exercise optimists don’t always reach their goals more quickly than pessimists (weight and fat loss goals must also be addressed in the kitchen…), they tend to enjoy the process more and can readily identify unanticipated changes brought about by their efforts (e.g., better sleep, more energy, happier demeanor).

So, is the cup half full or half empty?

Remember, whichever way you look at it, you’re right, but one perspective will take you farther than the other…

Do you think you can? Or are you pessimistic about your fitness efforts?

What’s your biggest health and fitness accomplishment?

Looking for an inexpensive way to jump-start your journey to fitness and health? Join my online Bootcamp today! Get more info by clicking the image below.

Looking for an inexpensive way to jump-start your journey to fitness and health? Join my online Bootcamp today! Get more info by clicking the image below.


  1. Now that I know I can, that makes the world of difference.

  2. Optimists also tend to live longer. Dr. Sears comments on the health aspects of optimism v pessimism in his book on Prime Time Health. It’s tough for pessimists to change, but it will help their health. Unless they stress over it…..
    KymberlyFunFit recently posted…Diet Cheat Days: Yes or No?My Profile

    • Can you tell that I’m an optimist? Gotta work on hubby, as he’s quite pessimistic (he calls it being ‘realistic’) and is already 8 years older than I. Don’t wanna get old by myself…


  1. […] the ‘I can’t do step’ attitude; being optimistic about your abilities will greatly improve your performance. And if it doesn’t, so what? Come back next week and try again. If you can drive a stick […]

  2. […] Optimist or Pessimist from FitKnitChick […]