3 min read

The Adventure of Tom Sawyer

White Wash!!!

AKA – The Sawyer Effect

‘Practices that can either turn work into play or play into work.’

In our case, I’m placing emphasis on the former.

OK, so I’m not sure I really view surfing as ‘exercise’ out right, but it sure is fun. There is something surreal about being out in the water, floating calmly, waiting for that optimal wave to come along so you can ride it. Even if you suck as bad as I do at catching said wave.

Why can’t all physical activity be this way?

I defined exercise last week as:

1) Planned activity requiring physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness.

2) A physical activity carried out for a specific purpose.

Maybe surfing does meet the requirements after all.


Ultimately whatever requires physical effort is unique to the individual. Luckily enough, I can say that it does require a little physical effort on my part to swim out past the break, especially if it’s been a while, but for the most part surfing can only be viewed by me as fun.

You can utilize the Sawyer Effect to take that long boring, annoying exercise routines and turn it into something fun and engaging. What activities did you used to enjoy as a child? What activities have you done recently that may require a little physical effort on your part, or at least something you can carry out with a specific purpose in mind?

Reconnect with your childhood spirit.

Fit, active people, live fit, active lifestyles. They go hiking or snowshoeing on the weekend with friends or their dogs, they ski or board in the winter, they play co-ed sports once or twice a week, they run or cycle with friends a couple of times per week, they meet up with friends at the gym and they mingle with like-minded individuals. In the end they make it fun and they make that fun, a regular part of their lifestyle.

Compare that to the opposite way the Sawyer Effect can be utilized. Setting a goal, especially one you’re not 9/10 committed to, or one you don’t even really find interesting, is a surefire way to turn something that might otherwise be fun, into work.

Attaching external rewards, is another easy way to take something that is play and turn it into work. You are really saying, this is so much work, I’m going to have to reward myself after this. Hopping on the treadmill, elliptical, bike or rower when you don’t particular enjoy any of them, another way to make exercise seem like work instead of fun. Sure it may be simple or easy, but are you having any fun doing it?

People who suffer through exercise are far less likely to establish any kind of consistency and consequently long-term results. A change in mindset is very much required for this type of person, yet they continue to plod along, making goals that they never fully plan on fulfilling (because someone, somewhere told them that they had to) and falling off the wagon every few weeks or months.

I’m not saying that losing weight or becoming more fit is easy, I’m just saying that you could make the whole process more enjoyable for yourself, and consequently longer lasting and fulfilling.

Instead, align your fitness objectives with something you find fun or rewarding by itself. The task in this case, should be the reward. Like cooking, could you honestly say you enjoy it? One of the things that I can tell you about all the fit people I’ve had the pleasure of working with, is that every single one tells me how much they enjoy exercise and quite frequently they enjoy cooking — most of the time. Obtaining that mindset is a big key for weight loss and fitness success.

So get off the machines, play some games to warm-up, challenge your brain, go to the park, walk on your hands, get out on the field, hang from bars, take in the scenery, manipulate your bodyweight, be creative, climb stuff, get on the floor, get dirty, smile, play in the rain and have as much fun, as you can out there.