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ACSM is fortunate to be the go-to source on sports medicine and exercise science for several national and international media outlets. You can find some of our most recent coverage below, or you can view archived articles.  

Getting in Step with Your Fitness Personality

by User Not Found | Aug 01, 2011
Expert gives valuable excuse-busting advice for exercisers of all types

ATLANTA – If you’re one of many exercisers having trouble sticking to an exercise routine, you’re not alone. But an expert at the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition has a solution: work with, not against, your fitness personality type.

Linda Shelton, a fitness and wellness authority and author, has identified five distinct personality types that exercisers and trainers alike can use to develop personalized lasting fitness regimens and recognize potential pitfalls. Some people may be a combination of more than one of the following types, says Shelton.

“Using the personality types is a great way to structure an exercise routine so you’re not just guessing about what might work and might not,” Shelton said. “It’s about knowing what drives a person, and using that knowledge to help someone stick with exercise and even enjoy it.”


Squares are the most reliable, stable and predictable of the five personality types. They like to have a plan for nearly everything in their lives, and thrive on routine. In general, they tend to be engineers, chemists, and scientists and less social around others.

Potential pitfall: Doing the same exercise routine for years. “Squares tend to develop rigid schedules for themselves, so while they get to the gym, they don’t see progressive results because they hit plateaus,” Shelton said. “Instead, a Square should try to take baby steps toward sprinkling in new activities weekly that switch up their routines while still giving them the familiarity of the old program.”


Rectangle types are a bit more flexible than Squares, but still like order and routine. They love groups, and perform best with social interaction.

Potential pitfall: Exercising alone. Rectangles should join fitness clubs – like hiking or running groups – and take group fitness classes instead.


Triangles are the most competitive and driven of the five personality types. They are task-oriented and maintain detained lists (like sets and repetitions) when working out so they can monitor their progress and revel in their successes.

Potential pitfall: Exercising without a set goal. Shelton suggests that Triangles work out with an equally competitive partner or train for a specific event, like a sprint triathlon or half-marathon, that has a goal.


Circles are the social butterflies of the fitness world, and the most emotionally driven of the five types.

Potential pitfall: Socializing instead of exercising, and putting themselves – and their fitness – last on the priority list. “Circles sometimes talk the entire way through a workout; they’re not really there for exercise so much as camaraderie,” Shelton said. “They need a nurturing trainer who will motivate them, yet not push too hard, or to exercise in a group setting.”


Squigglies possess the most outgoing, least structured personality type. They are the complete opposite of squares and hate routine. Squigglies must derive pleasure from whatever activity they’re doing, or they may quit.

Potential pitfall: Getting bored. Squigglies should try an extremely varied routine that includes lots of different classes and new activities to maintain interest in exercise.

Shelton says her five fitness personalities are also an important consideration when clients and personal trainers are pairing up.

“Both the exerciser and the trainer can use their personality types to create the best possible partnership.”


The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 35,000 international, national, and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

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