Half of my friends exercise regularly and the other half hibernate at the very mention of the word “workout.” Very few have ever set foot in a gym. In a survey that was conducted last year, “fear of judgement” and “lack of confidence” were some of the main reasons for not moving. When I ask what they’re scared of, the most common replies are: “I don’t want to look stupid” or “everyone else knows what they’re doing.”
I started exercising properly at age 36. Knowing what I know now about the benefits of exercise (clearer head, feeling of calm, the ability to cope with life, let alone gaining a better bum), I wish I’d got into it younger. I also know what it’s like to start from scratch. Here’s my advice on overcoming exercise angst.
1. Most gym fears are in your head.
There is actually nothing that scary about a room with yoga mats, inflatable rubber balls, things you push or pull, and people in overexposing Lycra. And like you, most people are counting the minutes until they leave.
2. Ignore the gym peacocks.
The ones who perform a “move” and then strut around the room hoping to catch people’s attention are far more interested in themselves than they are in looking at you.
3. Ask for advice.
Don’t ever enter a gym and use the equipment before having an introduction or you’ll risk injury. Exercise or gym instructors generally have great people skills so don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if it’s, “How do I target my back fat?”
4. There are a million ways to move.
Ballet, Zumba, aerial yoga, running, walking, netball, boxing, climbing, stretching, Pilates, hockey, swimming — you can even take up bowling. Why not?
5. Rope in a buddy.
Working out with a friend helps for some, but I like exercising on my own for the headspace and time away from anyone shouting, “Mommy, I’m hungry!” All in all, though, having someone else there to motivate you can help you stay focused.
6. Remember, everybody started somewhere.
Even the person performing the one-handed handstand push-up might have been sitting on their sofa a year ago. Don’t compare yourself to others.
7. Get a good playlist.
This will distract you and mentally cheer you on. Headphones are also a bit of a human shield if you don’t want that annoying person to talk to you in the gym.
8. Stop overthinking exercise.
Don’t worry about the people around you, whether you’ll get thirsty or hungry, or whether it will hurt. My mantra is “matter over mind” not “mind over matter.” You need to focus on what you’re doing (a form of mindfulness), not what you’re thinking.
Still scared? If all else fails, imagine everybody dancing around naked. Works like a charm.
This article was originally written by Susannah Taylor. For more, check out our sister site, Grazia.