If you pick up almost any women’s magazine or scroll through most fitness-related social media pages, phrases like “burn belly fat fast,” “get a flat stomach,” and “drop 10 pounds” are everywhere. In fact, popular culture has become so focused on losing weight, dropping a dress size and slimming down for swimsuit season that other motivators for consistent exercise are often ignored.

Achieving or maintaining a healthy weight is a great thing to work towards, but it’s not the only act in town! There are all kinds of other reasons you might be interested in getting into a regular exercise routine like outdoor boot camp or dance fitness classes. So, aside from weight loss, what are your fitness goals? It’s a question that’s so seldom asked, you may need a moment to consider.

How about the benefits for your mood?

It’s a known fact that physical exercise releases endorphins. Accomplishing a full San Diego boot camp class, an especially energetic dance fitness workout, or any other kind of exercise session brings a real, chemical feeling of satisfaction. Making it through those final reps or that last combination is an achievement, and the euphoria center of your brain will reward you for it. Get your regular endorphin fix with exercise, and you’ll likely see your overall mood start to improve! A stressful day at work can be turned around by a great workout, and the more you practice this kind of happiness-boosting activity, the more regulated your moods may tend to be in general. Bonus: Less anxiety and stress can lead to better sleep, too!

Although extreme focus on losing weight as your only fitness goal may not be your best bet, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other physical benefits to work towards! Building strength and muscle or increasing balance with exercises in our outdoor boot camp classes, for example, are goals that are separate from weight loss, but just as worthy of your focus! Exercising enough to break out of the cycle of a certain ache, pain or injury is another achievable physical goal unrelated to bikini-season preparations.

Need a confidence boost?

And although weight loss is often touted as the only way for a woman to increase her confidence, that’s DEFINITELY not the case either! In fact, focusing too much on that type of end result may even cause frustration and a dip in confidence, even if you’re making progress. Goals like increased strength, muscle, balance and mobility have great confidence-boosting power. Knowing that you can now do more pushups or lunges than you could three months ago is a powerful thought, and it will make you feel like you can take on the world! It’s the same with cardio dance fitness classes, too; there’s nothing like the feeling of finally mastering a combination of moves you’ve been working on for weeks to make you feel you’re truly increasing your athleticism.

Last but absolutely not the least of these “alternative” motivators for exercise is simply doing something that you find enjoyable! We’ve yet to see the day when someone leaves a Zumba-style dance class in Mission Valley without a smile on their face, or knocks out a few burpees at a Hillcrest boot camp class without laughing at a silly joke made by one of the trainers. Contrary to what some magazine headlines may have you believe, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing regular exercise simply because you like to!

Making a commitment to stay active is an investment in yourself: in your mood, your sleep quality, your muscle tone, your joint health, your mental health, your confidence. Many of us do still hold weight loss as our primary fitness goal, and that’s fine, but the key is to take a step back now and then and focus on some of the others. Don’t let yourself be blinded or burned out by the social media posts shouting at you to build a six-pack! Physical activity has scores of benefits, and you get to decide which of the many you want to strive for. So take a moment to put the weight-loss mindset on the back burner, and embrace the other beautiful outcomes of being a woman who works out!