Getting Fit When You Hate Exercise
Updated: Apr 8
“I don’t enjoy exercise, I never have”
A few years ago, up until I qualified as a personal trainer, this was me. I had never genuinely enjoyed exercising when I was growing up. At school I did anything and everything possible to avoid exercise and spent more of my PE lessons chatting and feeling anxious about getting changed in front of everyone.
When I speak to clients who are starting to work with personal trainers and try lifting weights for sometimes the first time in their lives it becomes apparent just how many of us feel the same way. There are several barriers working against those of us who have never felt physically gifted when it comes to exercise.
Gyms are intimidating and masculine spaces which immediately puts people off joining.
Fitness classes can be cliquey, and it is difficult to feel you’re doing everything right in a large group environment.
Our early year experience of physical education at school was geared towards competitive sports which meant you were either good, bad or average at everything.
So how do we go about changing our negative attitudes towards fitness and develop a new and enjoyable way to exercise?
Do Something You Enjoy
If you love to walk, cycle, dance or hula hoop – you should do it. Exercise doesn’t have to be about the latest fad or workout class. All movement has merit and if you stick with it and keep it going throughout your week then you stand a better chance of making it into a habit and seeing results from it.
20 Minutes for 5 Weeks
This is a great way of introducing small amounts of exercise into your day without it feeling overwhelming. Using this approach means you can pick any type of exercise to do for 20 minutes every day for 5 weeks. The little and often approach to exercise is hugely underrated but can get brilliant results. This takes out all the thought process behind what day’s you should exercise and what workouts you should be doing. We've done a blog on this approach with more details about how to get started here.
Set A Goal
Pick something you would really like to improve on, make a note of it and work towards that every week. Make the goal something physical that is easy to measure. Take a plank for example, if now you can hold a plank for anywhere between 10 and 20 seconds. Each time you plank, add 5 seconds on until you can complete that amount of time without breaking your position. If you did this over 5 weeks – imagine how much progress you would be able to make. The same would work for loads of exercises like push ups, squats, lunges or burpees etc.
Don’t let your lack of belief in yourself, your ability to change or in the process itself get into your head and derail you. It is tough when you have tried and failed at many different workouts and classes I the past to not lose faith all together. That negative attitude will do more to derail your progress than your body will if you don’t keep an eye on it.
It took me 30 years to realise that it wasn’t my abilities holding me back, it was my belief in me and my body.
Give it time, it doesn’t happen overnight but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen at all. We’ve been sold a dream of 5-minute ab workouts, 6-week transformations and 2-week summer detox’s. What they fail to tell you that none of that really works. There isn’t much that the fitness industry can sell you with a method of hard work and consistency. It doesn’t make it sound easy or quick, people don’t want to buy into it, but that is the reality.
One of the hardest jobs I have as a personal trainer is managing expectation and helping clients to understand what it actually takes to get results they think they want.
If you're brand new to exercising and want some guidance on how to get started, give our 10 Step Beginners Fitness Guide a read.
Good Luck - Remember you won’t always feel like it, you won’t always see or feel a difference but if you can keep moving forward you are guaranteed to see results in time.
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