Tis the season of the gym tourist – even I am going to the gym regularly. Not just to teach Yoga which I love but also to ‘work out’.

As I watch people huff and puff, lift weights that are way too heavy or power through an intense work-out, I am reminded that there is no one exercise regime that suits all people. The first requirement for developing a successful exercise program from the inside out is to know your nature, your individual body-type. Do you burn regular or unleaded, do you burn hot or cold, do you run fast or with endurance, do you more easily gain weight or lose it? Are you a heavy sleeper or a light one? Are you the life of the party or do you prefer solitude? Do you excel in team sports or as an individual?

Recent studies have shown substantial psychological differences in body types when under physical stress. Researchers at Florida State University studied two types of people during an exercise stress test, the now classic Type A and Type B personalities. The Type A’s, aggressive and highly motivated, were most likely Pitta/Vata types in nature. The Type B individuals were less aggressive and more ‘laid back”, probably possessing more Kapha –type qualities.

The study found that the Type A’s needed no verbal support to push themselves to their full aerobic capacity, while the Type B’s reached full capacity only when cheered on or otherwise supported. These results jibe perfectly with our understanding of body typing. Pitta types are naturally driven, while Kapha types need motivation and support.

Let’s take a look at the different metabolic types and the sports or exercise that is right for each one.

Not sure what metabolic type you are? Take my quick metabolic questionnaire to find out and then take a look at the best movement and exercise that is right for you.

The Vata Type:

These individuals are like a high strung thorough-bred race horse. Always on the go, very restless and even jumpy at times. In baseball, they are the singles-hitting, base-stealing second-base types where quickness and the short throw to first base make them the perfect choice.  They are not endowed with power but are well endowed with speed and quickness.

They love fast, vigorous activity but can’t handle too much of it if they are going to stay in balance. If anything, these types need to slow down, and nature often forces them to, since their endurance is not great and they tire quite easily. These people are quick to get involved in a fitness program, but due to their constantly changing interests, they are also quick to give it up.

When these Vata types get aggravated and out of balance, these individuals can become compulsive and get trapped in addictive behavior. When their addiction is to athletics, they can get caught up in what is known, in sports circles, as “addictive runner’s syndrome.” The same obsessiveness in business is sometimes called “workaholism”. These people become completely dependent on constant activity and can ruin their health, marriages, and jobs into the ground. Their compulsive nature also makes them especially susceptible to overtraining and, consequently, to injury.

Because they are not well endowed with structural strength, pure Vata types will generally be inclined towards lighter and more movement exercise such as ballet, dance and yoga. But they often still overdo it and because of their lighter frames and lack of structural resiliency. Vata types may pay a price for their constant physical activity, ending up exhausted and injured. More than any other type, this type needs to know their limits.

General Fitness and Cross Training for Vata Types in Winter.

Vata balancing sports or exercise require slow, calming activities that work on rejuvenation rather than exhaustion. Sime examples:

Aerobics (low impact dance)         Cricket          Ping Pong       Archery      Doubles Tennis

Stair stepping (moderate)             Golf                 Baseball        Bicycle (touring)

Bowling       Canoeing       Hiking      Horseback riding      Martial Arts      Tai Chai

Stretching      Swimming      Walking      Weight training      Yoga

The Pitta Type

Pitta or summer types translate as fire, both in personality and desire to win. The competitive nature and natural killer instinct of pure Pitta types makes them high achievers and often big winners. They are hot-headed as a rule and must take care not to overheat mentally or physically. They are highly motivated and driven and are often not satisfied unless they win. For those of us that are purely Pitta types, it is not how you play the game but whether you win or lose that counts.

These are natural leaders and will often appoint themselves as team leaders, whether nominated for the position or not. They are attracted to individual sports because of their strong ego and natural competence in most sports. Whatever it is, they usually do it better than most, so they often end up doing it alone. Rock climbing, skiing, sky diving, racquet sports and running are a few of the Pitta dominated sports.

Pitta types make great athletes, but for longevity in any sports, it must be fun! Their competitive minds can often drive the body into fatigue and exhaustion just to win or be the best. This constant driving can take the enjoyment out of the game and ultimately strip the pleasure out of physical fitness and exercise. Pitta types need to take it easy and enjoy the game itself, rather than live for the result.

Many Pitta types find themselves losing interest in a sport or activity because they get too serious about their win records. Some will tell you straightforwardly, “If I can’t be the best, I’d rather not do it at all.” This may be a great strategy for the makings of a champion – but it’s hardly what’s needed for fitness as a way of life.

General Fitness and Cross Training for Pitta Types in Winter.

Cross training and general fitness sports for Pitta types must balance the excessive heat and competitive spirit with sports that provide enjoyment rather than a focus on competition and winning. Some examples:

Basketball and other team sports     Kayaking/rowing      Skiing (cross country)

Cycling      Mountain biking     Surfing      Martial arts     Diving     racquet sports

Touch football     Golf     Hockey     Sailing     Wind surfing     Ice skating     Yoga

Skiing (downhill)

The Kapha Type

Spring types are often late bloomers. Their development, mental, physical, or both can be later until late in high school or even afterwards. Coaches sometimes cut these kids from teams at a young age, only to watch them grow to become world-class athletes. Michael Jordan, probably a late-blooming Kapha type, was cut from his high school basket-ball team.

Kapha types are more relaxed and easygoing, more naturally composed than other types. They love the camaraderie of team sports and are attracted to the. Most baseball players have this easygoing temperament and are not easily flustered. To stay calm and focused while thirty thousand opposing fans are chanting, “you’re a bum!” requires a certain amount of composure.

Spring types need to be motivated toward exercise; otherwise, later in life, they can all too easily multiply the pounds and become part of the sedentary population. For good health and mental and physical balance, Kapha types need regular exercise. Without it, they feel lethargic and complacent. Any aerobic exercise will benefit them – but to get them to do it, it has to have some charm. They are not often motivated to exert themselves.

For Kapha types that need vigorous exercise, a leisurely ride on a touring bike through the Napa Valley in California, stopping to drink plenty of wine and cheese tasting along the way, will not satisfy their exercise needs. They will probably eat more calories than they burn. But this is just the kind of trip that would attract the easygoing (and foodloving) Kapha types. They are rarely in a hurry and are usually fairly content with life in general.

General Fitness and Cross Training for Kapha Types in Winter.

Exercise for Kaphas must be stimulating and vigorous to maintain balance in the slow-to-get started Kapha types. Some examples:

Aerobics     Handball     Rowing     Basketball     In-line skating     Sculling

Bodybuilding     Javelin     Shot put     Calisthenics     Lacrosse     Soccer     Cross-country running

Martial arts     Stairstepping     Cross-country skiing     Swimming     Cycling      Racquetball

Tennis     Fencing     Spinning     Rock climbing     volleyball

Now you know your metabolic type – get out there and have fun! Seeing as I am Vata/Pitta, I will see you in the Yoga room, in a class where others will motivate me, – and to round it all off, the lighter weights.

Want to know more about a training program that is right for your metabolic type? – let’s talk! Schedule a complimentary 30 minute call with me to discuss what the right exercise is for you.


With thanks to one of my great teachers who wrote the book ‘Body, Mind and Sport by John Douillard. You can catch him on www.lifespa.com