When it comes to fitness, there are three kinds of people: the Exerciser, the Competitor, and the Athlete.

(Okay, technically, there are four kinds. But I think it’s safe to leave out “The Non-Exerciser,” right?)

These three classes of individuals have different reasons, methods, and abilities when it comes to working out. They also have different outlooks on exercise, and life in general.

Though it’s safe to say that not everyone is cut out to be a true athlete, it is something we should all at least aspire for at some point in our lives. However, as long as you see yourself defined somewhere on this list, you should feel comfortable knowing you’re at least doing something to keep your body happy and healthy.

The Exerciser

The Exerciser is a casual gym-goer. He knows the importance of staying active, and will usually hit the gym around 1-3 times a week.

The Exerciser likely lives a pretty healthy life outside of the gym. He eats healthy, gets enough sleep at night, and stays active throughout his days off. While not completely obsessed with working out, The Exerciser will certainly get down on himself for missing a day at the gym.

Despite enjoying physical activity, the Exerciser is usually not terribly intentional with his workouts. He’ll spend some time on the bike, lift some weights, go for a swim, or play some basketball – but he may or may not have a regimen that he follows to a T. He’s more interested in simply staying active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle than in improving his abilities or bulking up.

For the Exerciser, a moderate workout acts as motivation not just in the gym, but throughout other aspects of life, as well.

The Competitor

The Competitor takes his workouts a little more seriously than does the Exerciser. You’ll be able to find the Competitor at the gym anywhere from 3-5 times a week. For him, working out isn’t just a way to keep healthy – it’s a way of life.

While the Exerciser leads a healthy lifestyle mostly by avoiding bad habits, the Competitor actively seeks out ways to improve his health and lifestyle at all times. For example, while the Exerciser might stay healthy by avoiding certain foods and not staying up too late, the Competitor knows exactly what he plans on eating and exactly when he plans on going to bed each and every day.

Of course, this regimented approach to life also translates to incredibly structured workout sessions. The Competitor rotates his workout routine on a daily basis, focusing on legs one day, arms another, and back the next. He’ll also do intensive stamina training throughout the week, as well.

Unlike the Exerciser, who is happy maintaining the status quo, the Competitor always works to improve his abilities whenever he hits the gym. He’ll always push himself to do his very best, and work to ensure that he’ll be stronger today than he was the day before.

The Athlete

The Athlete is the type of person who isn’t offended when he gets called a “gym rat.” He’s the seemingly superhuman that can be found at the gym at least five times a week, possibly more than once in a single day.

For the Athlete, exercise isn’t just a part of life – it is life. His entire daily routine – from what he eats and when he sleeps to where he works and what he does for fun – revolves around fitness. If a moment goes by that the Athlete isn’t pushing himself to his absolute highest potential, he feels as if he’s wasted his time.

The Athlete can often be seen doing exercises that might look bizarre and make it seem like he doesn’t know what he’s doing. In truth, he’s doing more than most of us could ever imagine. Just listening to his workout routine would be enough to send you to the showers.

Like the Competitor, the Athlete always strives to do better than he did the day before. The Athlete reaches a seemingly machine-like state while working out, motivating everyone around him while simultaneously making them all look like out-of-shape couch potatoes.

Featured photo credit: GYM / Richard Niedings / Flickr via farm8.staticflickr.com