If going to the gym was as fun for everyone as it was for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts our world would be a lot healthier, and obesity would be a thing of the past. But sadly, this is not the case, not many can pretend that spending 90 minutes on a treadmill is as enjoyable as going out to dinner or sitting on a couch watching television. Okay some people may find this to be the case, but not the majority.
But exercise is important, it will help you to lose fat, build muscle, improve your sleep quality, and most importantly improve your health. You can regulate your blood pressure with exercise, reduce the risk of certain cancers, prevent metabolic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, strokes, and obesity, and improve your independence in later life.
One of the most common excuses for not exercising is a lack of time, and to be fair, for a lot of people this is perfectly justified. If you are a single parent working overtime to support your three children then 1) You definitely don’t have enough spare time, and 2) You are probably getting sufficient exercise as it is! But, for many more people, this is an excuse and nothing more. If you properly tracked the amount of time that you spend on different tasks during the day, you’ll probably find that a lot of activities could be replaced by exercise. Three hours watching Netflix, five hours at the pub on a Friday night, four hours of lying in bed hungover on a Saturday morning … Three hours spent in the cinema on a Wednesday night. We’re not saying that you can’t spend your leisure time enjoying yourself, what we are saying is that you probably have more leisure time than you think you do. Certainly, there are very few people who could not find 2-3 hours during a 168-hour week. Once you can admit to yourself that time is not really a barrier, then you can look at the real reasons why you are not exercising. One of the most common reasons for avoiding exercise is fear.
You might not be ready to admit that the idea of going to the gym scares you, but for a lot of people it really does. Overweight people in particular see the gym as quite an intimidating place, which is perfectly understandable. Gyms are places where some of the fittest people you will ever see, spend all of their time. It’s makes sense that they could be potentially awful to someone who is overweight. The phrase “I’ll just lose some weight before joining the gym” is used a lot.
The thing is that 90% of the big guys and slim girls couldn’t care less about what you look like in the gym. Of the other 10% the majority will be impressed that you are taking a positive step to improve your health. Sure, there may be one or two people thinking mean thoughts, but that’s true of any place. The consensus among gym goers is that if you are standing in a gym right now you are making a positive move towards improving your life. This is an excellent way to think.
If you have never run a day in your life, setting a target to win the 100m race at the next Olympics is probably overly ambitious. If you are currently deep into your overdraft with a tonne of credit card bills to pay, then setting yourself a goal of entering the top ten richest people list by next year is also unlikely. But people do this all the time with exercise.
Why is this? Because lots of fitness marketing is aimed at making you believe that you are just ONE STEP away from a six pack. If you are currently not exercising and you walk into a gym wanting to have the body of a fitness model, then you must understand how difficult that is to achieve.
Setting smaller, more realistic goals will help motivate you, as you hit each target you’ll be motivated to hit the next one. Drop a dress size in a week? Impossible, unsafe, and likely to end in dissatisfaction.
Attend a fitness class three times in one week? Effective, easy to attain, and it will help take you closer to your intended goal.
Exercise and gyms are so intrinsically linked that many people assume that you can’t exercise without a gym membership. This is not true, there are home workout videos, personal training at home or in the park, running, walking, sports, or just actively trying to be more active during a working day (park further from the office, take the stairs instead of the elevator).
People think that exercising more will cut into their social life, which in some ways is completely true. If you’re in the gym three nights a week, then you’re not going to be in the pub or hanging out with friends … Unless, you decide to go to the gym with a friend. Or you join a fitness class and make new friends. Or participate in a sport where you will meet lots of new people.
Even personal training can involve improving your social life. Many trainers and their clients enjoy having a laugh during sessions, and a good trainer will look to introduce current clients to each other, so that there’s someone else to smile at when in the gym.
If you’re interested in how changing behaviour can improve how you view exercise, and improve results of yourself or of clients, then check out our course on behaviour change coaching.
If you are feeling inspired you may also be interested in reading about the various ways in which to diversify your fitness routine and the benefits this offers.