I NEED TO START WORKING OUT BUT…
When we tell people who struggle with the motivation to exercise to stop making excuses, we’re not helping the situation. As Brene Brown says, “Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” Shaming people into a lifestyle shift is not going to work. Whether you’re starting to workout for the first time or trying to convince yourself to go to a new group class, anything fitness related is super vulnerable. Invalidating these vulnerabilities by telling people to stop making excuses is the wrong approach.
That being said, I want to help people reconcile their reasons, not excuses, for not exercising. Hopefully by addressing these roadblocks we can quell our anxieties and ease ourselves into a form of sustainable movement that is right for us.
Here are five roadblocks and the detours around them.
1) I’m Not Fit Enough to Get Fit
If you haven’t worked out in 10 years, I’m not going to ask you to run a marathon tomorrow. When you hear this excuse in your head, I encourage you to do your research. If you aren’t fit but want to start exercising, look into different programs to see what the intro classes look like. You want to find a program that eases into fitness and encourages people of all ages and ability levels to join.
Additionally, there’s a possibility that the exercise that works for your friends isn’t the exercise that works for you. If you’re jumping into fitness from a sedentary lifestyle, even a ten minute walk every day can make a vast improvement to your health. “Your body responds very positively, very quickly to even small amounts of exercise,” says Tim Church, MD, PHD, a researcher measuring the health benefits of just ten minutes of walking a day. He says further, “If you’re sedentary, you’ll see a lot of your greatest gains going from zero to ten minutes a day.” We all need to start somewhere, and easing your way into a program that you enjoy and aligns with your personality is going to be key. You may find this exercise in sports, group classes, online yoga, or a walking buddy. There is always an option for you to exercise, regardless of your current fitness level.
Tip: If the fitness program you’re looking into doesn’t have an intro class, I’d stay away. Throwing new members into a class of experienced members does not lend itself to a positive experience. More importantly, do you want to take a class that doesn’t have any instruction? Is that sustainable? Think of introductory classes as an investment. The longer you allow yourself to commit to these intro classes, the longer the fitness program will keep you engaged.
2) Not Enough Time in the Day
This is where group classes and scheduling your workouts come into play. Being motivated enough to workout alone at a gym is incredibly impressive. But most of us aren’t disciplined enough to make this sustainable, and if we are, I’d bet we could benefit from a little coaching every once in a while.
When we sign up for a group class or schedule a time slot in our calendar for our favorite YouTube workout, we’re committing ourselves to one hour of focused fitness. I hear you–one hour feels like a lot. But we know that the average american watches two hours of TV a day…Can we afford to re-watch just one episode of Game of Thrones instead of two? If the answer is yes, you have enough time to fit an hour group class into your schedule.
This is absolutely easier said than done. My biggest suggestion is to make your schedule as regular as possible. Try to get into a routine that doesn’t include having to make the decision to exercise that day. If it’s always in the schedule, if we take the choice away, it’s much more likely to happen.
As James Clear, an expert on habit creation, says, “Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way.”
3) Group Classes are Dangerous!
They absolutely can be. If your class does not have an emphasis on sustainability, longevity, and injury prevention, find another option. Not all classes are created equal and not all trainers are created equal. There may be a shopping around process while you find the best option for you.
We absolutely need to ask questions about the risks of certain fitness programs. Do your research and ask questions. Remember that the goal is to make exercise a life-long habit, so find a program that has your back in the long run.
To be clear, being sedentary is the *most* dangerous thing we can do to our bodies. Chronic diseases are responsible for 7 out of 10 deaths in the US. This is scary, but we know the cure: move our bodies, eat non-processed foods like protein and vegetables, and sleep eight hours a night.
4) Working Out is Intimidating
Holy sh*t, is it ever. Every time I walk into a mega gym I see 80% of the members doing poorly executed and/or poorly programmed exercises and I still feel like an imposter. My advice? Fake it til you make it and leave your ego at home. Try your best, ask questions, and assume you’ll get things wrong the first time. None of the people in your intro classes will know what they’re doing either, so it’s no sweat if you make a little fool of yourself.
The other tip for this roadblock is to bring friends. Taking a class with friends not only eases you into the community of the gym, but it adds another layer of accountability when starting a new fitness program.
5) Gym Memberships are SO Expensive
They can be. Even the most basic fitness options aren’t cheap. But if you have the money to go out once a week, you have the money for a gym membership. Of course the argument can go deeper, but that is the bottom line. Your health is worth the cost of a gym membership.
With many of us stuck at home this past year, we have phenomenal fitness instructors giving away their services for free on YouTube. Some of the best in the business are making exercise accessible for everyone by continuing to release new workouts every week. Take advantage of not only the quality of these free classes, but also the range. You have the unique opportunity to take a pilates, boxing, HIIT, yoga, or barre class all from your living room for free. Don’t take it for granted.
Just Do It
Of course I want you to do your research. But the biggest thing I can tell you is to just do it. Try out new things. Be vulnerable. Drag your friends along. Be a student. Drag your friends along. Set a foundation. Drag your friends along!