We all agree: exercise is good for you. Everyone needs to exercise – no matter how skinny or overweight. Some of us are exercising to lose weight, get toned, increase fitness, reduce health risks, mitigate symptoms or side effects of illnesses and to simply stay active and feel happy! Whatever the reason — exercise is a prescription for all.
Excuses are cyclical and intertwined. Everyone’s well aware of the time factor, the financial factor and the laziness factor – but how aware are you of the fear factor? In other words, people that prefer to lose a bit of weight at home (or by dieting) in order to feel confident enough to exercise in public – especially within the fitness centre environment? If you are afraid to exercise in the gym or too embarrassed to exercise in public – you need to do something. That fear will never diminish as long as you remain its hostage.
Most people that fear exercising in public are overweight women. They’re embarrassed by the look of their bodies during exercise – they’re consumed with the idea that their attempt to exercise in public is a spectacle. They’re plagued by questions: How awful does their body look? What if their doing the exercise wrong? What if they start sweating too much too fast? What if they break something? What if they fall off the treadmill? What if somebody laughs?
If you are afraid to exercise in a gym or outdoors – you are not alone. It’s a common fear. While you can take comfort in that common experience for now – you need to do whatever you can to get out of that peer group. As with any anxiety, a dose of information is powerful ammunition for a lifelong combat (perhaps). It’s not easy, and I hope this helps:
- If you have not started working out yet, remember that you are BEGINNER — everyone begins as a beginner! Everyone gets taught what they know. Try not to let those fit bodies in the gym or in the trail intimidate you out of your workout. Focus on your own exercise – your breathing, your form, your reps, etc.
- Don’t try to do too much too fast. In fact, at our gym, you will get a one-on-one with one of our instructors as part of your membership. This will give you a chance to learn basic exercises using specific equipment and machines. You get to practice those exercises while correct form is signaled throughout. We will prescribe the reps, sets, and weight to lift. So don’t worry about where or how to start – we’ll tell you what to do!
- Every gym has their peak and quiet periods. To diminish your fear of embarrassing yourself, find out when the quiet times are, then come in and practice those moves on your own. Work out with less people around, build up the nerve to do some of your free weight exercises in front of the mirror to keep watch on your form. If you’re not sure of your form or the exercise on your program, just ask one of the fitness staff to review.
- If you’re interested in classes but not so keen in the idea of other people watching your reflection in wall-to-wall mirrors as you fumble your way through the class—no worries! Our aerobic classes are held in the gymnasium—no mirrors! Everyone fumbles in these types of classes – even the instructor! So please, muster the courage to come into the gym, pick a spot and follow the leader! Group classes make your workouts a breeze! Don’t give up after your first try, or even your second try, just keep coming back for more – practice makes perfect!
- If you’re afraid to exercise because it just seems too hard, let me remind you: exercise doesn’t have to be vigorous in order to produce results! You can exercise at a manageable level and still do your body a lot of good. Sure, you might get a little uncomfortable—with increased heart rate, increased breathing, increased sweat and maybe even a little muscle burn—but that’s the idea. However, you should NEVER feel pain during exercise. If you feel pain during any exercise, you need to stop that exercise immediately. Otherwise, exercise can be done at a comfortably challenging level. Remember, we’re exercising for better health – not training for the Olympics – so don’t let those professionals intimidate you. While we’re at it, don’t let The Biggest Loser scare you either – it’s not that brutal around here!!!
I hope I have given you something to think about if the subject of this post hits close to home. You need to make peace with your body. It is what it is. You’re not going to make a change without exercising in spite of fear.
Of course if you have underlying health condition that you feel disqualify you from exercise, talk to your doctor about your interest in exercise. She/he will applaud you, then list precautions and recommendations that you can then bring to us. We’ll welcome you with open arms because our gym is a place just for you. Our members are composed of a variety of experiences, fitness levels, body types and ages. We are a friendly bunch, and I encourage you to just visit for a tour—no strings attached! (Also, if your anxiety is preventing you from doing other things which further reduce your quality of life – you need to talk to your doctor about strategies to combat the various degrees of anxiety that debilitate some more than others.)
Still not convinced that you can join a gym??? That’s okay. You can exercise outside of the gym – start with walking. Don’t undermine the power of walking, it’s a great exercise. If you are already doing it – great! Cover more distance and increase your speed a bit if you can.
If you don’t walk much, try walking around more often throughout each day for a total of 30 minutes. Take a longer route to your house or get off one-stop early from the bus – do that until you’re practically walking all the way home!
If you are not able to get your dose of cardio outside, then you’ll have to do what you can in your own home. Workout videos are in abundant supply in the library. Get those to help motivate you to increase your cardio. For muscle, you can easily exercise at home. Stay tuned for a post on Working Out at Home!
Whatever route you take – the point is that you have to take initiative. You have to act now in order to initiate change in your life. It has been proven repeatedly that exercise increases your quality of life – physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually. You can exercise for free everyday. It’s up to you!