Gotta’ Run: Overcoming fitness fears

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 6, 2021

I worked at the YMCA for about four years and one of the best conversations revolved around getting started in fitness. Fear and concern usually came up in the discussion. In fact, my office was in an area where people could go to exercise if they didn’t want to be in a large open room with others.

When we do our beginning runners classes, most of the questions up front are concerns about a certain fear of being able to keep up with the class. Often I get asked, “Do you think I can do it? What if I just can’t stay on track?” My answer is always, “Yes, you need to believe you can and make sure to do your homework.”

There are lots of excellent fitness pros in town like Ester Marsh from the YMCA and Rayna Gardner from The Forum who hear about these fitness fears all the time. Here are some tips that will make your chosen workout easier and hopefully instill some confidence.

Talk to someone who is knowledgeable and can provide insight for your personal journey towards better health. Personal trainers, some of the long-time ones especially, have heard lots of concerns and reasons for success and failure. They will be glad to help.

If you aren’t sure what to do, take some groups classes at the gyms or find a workout partner. Then a small group or partner can help hold each other accountable, discuss what seems the most fun and peaks your interest while providing support.

I often hear of reasons why someone can’t exercise. One with the easiest to refute goes something like this, “I’m afraid I won’t have the time.” All it takes here is a realistic analysis of just what keeps this person so busy. Journal what goes on every day. I have yet to meet the client yet who can’t make 30-45 minutes a day to exercise, although quite a few would deny it. Find the time that can work for you and schedule it. Make your exercise a priority instead of the movable piece of the day that often doesn’t get done. “I’m so tired at the end of the day!” Fine, then schedule a morning workout and ride the boost that you’ll have all day long.

Another reason not to exercise is concern or unwillingness to cover the costs. Yes, it does cost to exercise and wearing comfortable clothes and shoes do make the workouts easier. But even the best shoes and clothing will be insignificant compared to the cost of long-term health care. A sort of pay it now or pay it later.

There are certain reasons I love to hear because it opens a big discussion. One of these is, “What if I get hurt?” I could get lengthy on this answer but won’t. Yes, the chances for an injury go up when moving the body. The other option of not moving and sitting on the couch or in the recliner every night is guaranteed to erode the strength you have, and yet your organs would prefer activity. Most initial injuries amount to little lasting concern anyway. An unmoving body opens lot of avenues that you don’t want to visit.

And finally, my very favorite reason for not exercising was already mentioned briefly, “Everyone will be looking at me!” I have heard that said over and over by some who want better health but are afraid of others watching. Know that all those others have their own issues and reasons to concentrate on what they are doing. But if you follow through, people might look at you and say, “Yes, I wish I could do that.”

Make the first step towards overcoming those fears. It will be the hardest step and then each successive one will get easier.

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