For many women (and men!) exercise isn’t an entirely pleasurable experience.
Many people struggle with the motivation to get started. Once you’ve started it doesn’t mean that motivating yourself to get out and do each exercise session becomes immediately easy either! And whilst you’re doing it, it’s HARD! The truth is, there are many barriers to keep us from exercising and to persuade yourself to line up to experience physical pain is normal, for most people!. Some common barriers may include issues of weight, confidence, laziness, inexperience, perceived lack of facilities, lack of family support – the list goes on.
And there are many reasons common to women as to why we struggle with exercise. For example, the number of times I’ve heard women report to me that they don’t want to go to the gym or venture in to the weights area because they feel intimidated and that their being judged is endless.
I agree. Many of the plastic gyms as I call them (you know, the fancy looking ones with flash kit and beautiful saunas) are often staffed by burly guys and toned women who emit a general disinterest in the personal goals of women who want to lose a bit of weight or start exercising for the first time within a masculine, competitive and unsupportive environment. Ultimately you feel judged before you’ve even stepped on to the gym floor. Why would you want to put yourself through this?
So, what do we need to do to try get over or around these barriers? Well, firstly identify what your key stumbling point is? Is it that you don’t feel confident in going to the gym because it’s an unfamiliar environment? Maybe the exercise part isn’t actually a problem, it’s that you’ve never been before and don’t know what to expect?
Tip 1 – take someone with you. Persuade a friend, partner, family member to go with you, or ask if you can accompany someone who already goes. This will not only help with the motivation to go, it’ll put you at ease when you arrive.
Is your key block that you feel to self conscious to exercise in public?
Tip 2 – You don’t have to exercise in a gym. I run loads of sessions outside, using steps, hills, benches as training aids. Being outside is invigorating and you’re not going to be watched closely by anyone. If that’s too much at this stage, exercise at home. I wrote a quick circuits programme for a new mum recently who wanted to get back in to shape but couldn’t leave the house (see here). You can definitely work up a sweat and burn calories around your own home.
Another common block is tiredness. After a hard day’s work you feel tired and the last thing you want to do is go out to exercise, go to the gym, go swimming. True, I feel it too.
Tip 3- Exercise first thing in the morning before work. Granted this may not be possible for some women, perhaps with children or maybe you start too work early for this to be an option. If you don’t however, the rewards of getting your exercise out of the way first thing are massive. If you can bear to tear yourself out of bed an hour or so earlier than normal, you’ll reap the rewards. Come the end of the day, you don’t have to feel guilty about not exercising, because you’ve done it. But there’s an added bonus too, you’ll feel great, invigorated and raring to go. Try it, it might take a few times to git in to it, but give it a chance!
When this isn’t possible, what can you do? PLAN. Plan your day and create windows of time where you can exercise. How do you spend your lunch break for example. If you have an hour, is it feasible to take off to the gym, go out for a run for half of that? I’ll tell you what I do. I have a particularly long day on a Monday and it starts early too and I usually can’t find a slot to exercise. Instead of miss the session, I take my running kit to work and my exercise for the day is to run home. My motivation is that I need to run to get home. Full stop. Once I get going I actually feel quite energetic and arrive home invigorated and ready to make supper.
So there you have it. Just a couple of tips to help you with getting going with exercise. Please e-mail or comment share with others your struggles and tips to head them off at the pass.