It’s mid-February. The new year’s resolution to exercise has long been cast aside for many of us. There’s lots of self-hate right now because we’ve failed ourselves yet again. And the reason I hear often (and have expressed myself): I HATE the Gym!
It’s not just the gym. It could be running. It’s feeling like you don’t do yoga well. It’s being angry at your body because it doesn’t function the way you expect it to when exercising. It’s feeling like you don’t belong in the exercise class you signed up for.
I’ve been encouraged by friends to just show up, to just do it anyway, it’s only an hour. I’ve even said things to friends things like, “You pay to go there just like everyone else. You own your space. And those uber-fit people are so hung up on their own thing they don’t even notice you.” But you know what I forgot in saying all of that? Honor yourself first. Seriously, stop and honor yourself, honor those feelings.
If you feel like you don’t belong at a certain gym, feel totally uncomfortable there, find a different gym. I’m not even kidding about this. If the gym staff make you feel unwelcome, take your money elsewhere. There IS a gym out there where you belong. I’ve found that gym more than once…and I’ve also taken my money elsewhere after gym staff have been rude, unhelpful, even snide to me.
Feel like you could never workout with a personal trainer, even though you know the accountability would be good? Just like looking for a gym, there is a trainer out there that will be a good fit. If your trainer runs you up and down the streets while calling you a fat cow, FIRE THAT TRAINER. Your money, your body, your experience. There is a trainer who will honor where you are and encourage you in a loving way. You should leave your training sessions feeling built up, not torn down.
Trying out a group exercise class and anxious because you won’t know anyone there? Invite a friend. I wanted to try out a new barre class and asked a friend to join me. She was excited to, but admitted she wouldn’t have gone on her own either. Don’t have a friend to invite? Go to the class (commit to just one class, don’t buy a 12 class pass until you know you dig it) and look for the girl in the back of the room who looks like you. She’s there, chewing her nails, looking at nothing but the floor. Introduce yourself, invite her to have coffee with you after class. And if you like the class, make concrete plans to meet her for another class. My sweet friend Bree has great pointers in her post on making friends that apply to this.
Want to run or walk but know it would be more enjoyable with a friend? Find a walking or running group in your area. Can’t find a group where you feel like you fit? Start a group! My friend Kristen couldn’t find a group in her area that worked with her pace and her schedule, so she started one. Put out a note on Facebook, magic will happen!
Tried running but hate it? Tried running again and again but your knees scream in pain every single time? Do something different! It doesn’t have to be running, just because that’s what your fit neighbor does. You do you. Find what speaks to you. For me, right now, it’s Erin Stutland’s Shrink Sessions, kitchen dance parties and lots of yoga. That may change next week. I’m not married to any one kind of exercise. The only thing I am truly certain of with exercise is that I need to move in a way that I enjoy and that doesn’t make my body hurt. It doesn’t have to be painful to qualify as exercise.
Is comparison robbing you of joy while exercising? Find yourself comparing your body or your workout to others? Think you need to run as far or as fast as your friend who posts every single run on Facebook? Need to lift more, do more burpees or pull-ups than the frenemy whose social media posts do nothing but bring you down? You don’t! Again, you just need to do what works for you . And maybe hide those folks from your online experience if they do nothing but make you feel bad.
I had to find a way to move that I enjoyed. For me, that meant removing myself from competitive sports, at least for now. Because I was always comparing myself and it didn’t motivate me, it discouraged me. Just like being in a gym where I felt very self-conscious didn’t motivate me, attending classes where I didn’t feel I belonged discouraged me. Participating in exercise that discourages you doesn’t make it likely that you’ll stick with it. Find an exercise space where you feel you belong and never feel like comparing your body to anyone else’s. It’s out there, you can find it. Plus you deserve to do things you enjoy. Because you’re awesome. Like, right now, already awesome.
I want to hear from you. Tell me what makes you want to move. What helps you feel good about exercising? What makes it enjoyable? You, my lovely readers, are part of a very important tribe who can encourage others in a similar spot. Or share your challenges and get a note of support from me and other readers. We aren’t alone in our challenge to find a way to enjoy exercise, so share your thoughts! Leave your comments below, let’s have a conversation about this.