Fitness can be scary, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. Anything out of your comfort zone is going to be scary for most people. Us humans are creatures of habit. We typically like to fall into a continual routine and stick to it. For you, maybe that means going directly to the elliptical machine in the back row of your gym. For someone else it may mean getting to kickboxing class as soon as the doors open so they can clamor for the space in the back right corner of the room, far from eyes of other class participants. The bottom line is, we all have our own insecurities when it comes to fitness. Often we don’t even realize what they are (or how to overcome them) until we try new things.
In an effort to open the discussion, I’m going to provide a bit of a personal story that happened to me last week. To preface this, I consider myself an extremely fit person. I work out 6 days a week. I run, I swim, I bike, I do HIIT, I lift heavy weights, I play sports. In general, I consider myself to be a well-balanced and healthy individual.
My one weakness however, is a lack of flexibility. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never put much effort into a stretching routine. To correct this, my chiropractor has quite strongly recommended I start taking yoga. I thought okay…I’ve never done yoga, but I’ll give it a shot. This was two months ago. I kept coming up with excuses for why I couldn’t start my yoga practice. Finally, this past week, I ran out of excuses and signed up at one of my neighborhood yoga studios. My first class was a Level 1 heated Vinyasa Flow.
Upon walking in I immediately felt a surge of nervousness make its way through my veins. I was surrounded by a pack of Lululemon clad yoga chicks who I was certain were all staring at the sole dude who just walked into THEIR yoga studio. I signed up, got some general info, and went to the yoga room. Of course I procrastinated today and arrived to a yoga room packed to the brim with an even larger pack of Lululemon chicks. As I’m standing there awkwardly searching for a place to lay my crumpled yoga mat while avoiding stepping on spandex clad bodies, I spot a small parcel of real estate in the back corner of the room. I’m pressed against a side wall and have a slightly overhanging low ceiling above me, but it should work.
Class goes off without a hitch and I’m making my way through the moves well enough. Here and there one of the girls to my left would whisper what the hell I should be doing when it looked like I was lost. Little did she know I wasn’t lost, I just have zero flexibility so sometimes have to stand there awkwardly waiting for the next move to come up. We had a few of those awkward moments where you whisper something to someone, they say ”what?”, you whisper again, they say “what?” again, you both stare at each for a minute, then you just nod and go back to what you were doing.
A Little Over-Confident…
As class continued, my comfort level gradually increased. Things were coming more naturally and I could feel myself becoming ever so slightly more limber. Class began to wind down and I sat there, meditating on the day’s lesson as instructed. A sense of pride began to overtake me. I had forced myself out of my comfort zone, gone to a yoga class, not completely embarrassed myself, and had now gotten the courage to make this a weekly routine. The lesson ended and people quietly started rolling up their yoga mats and heading for the door. High on good vibes, I quickly rolled my mat and jumped up….BOOM!
That slightly overhanging low ceiling decided it was time to bring me back to Earth. It didn’t hurt too badly so maybe it wasn’t as loud as I thought. As a chorus of ”OOOOOOH’s!!!” broke the silence and about 40 sets of eyes darted my way, it was clear it was easily as loud as I had suspected. I think I kind of blacked out at this point and just shuffled my way out of the room as quickly as possible, more than a bit embarrassed. The low lighting of the yoga room thankfully hid the bright red color overcoming my face.
Looking back now this is something I can easily laugh about. My first yoga experience was a positive one and I’m looking forward to going back to class this weekend. The entire ordeal however gave me a new perspective. I never truly understood people (usually women) who talked about being intimidated by the free weight section, or by doing certain exercises. I could sympathize with them, but couldn’t understand how the intimidation could be so bad it completely prevented them from doing what they wanted. Now I know.
Tips for Overcoming Your Fitness Fears
With this knowledge in hand, I think I’m a bit better suited to help others overcome their fears of fitness
Remember, overcoming fears and getting yourself out of your comfort room is an opportunity for growth. It is an opportunity to evolve.
- The first step is the hardest. Do something different just once and you will almost be guaranteed to boost you comfort level.
- There will always be a million reasons not to do something. Make a genuine effort to recognize your excuses for what they are….excuses.
- People are generally interested in helping the less experienced. I felt everyone there was so much further advanced than I was and would look at me as an idiot. In reality, people were there to help. Whether it’s a pack of spandex clad Lululemon chicks or a horde of cut-off T-shirt meatheads, they will almost always offer advice and/or help.
- Remember why you are working out. You are doing this to better yourself. You will never better yourself doing the same thing day in, day out. Challenge yourself to grow as a person.
- No one is judging. Walking in I felt completely judged and out of my element. This goes against everything I always preach, so I understand how it’s possible to fall into this line of thinking. Fact of the matter is, almost no one is judging you; they’re too busy with doing their own thing. The people who do judge are the very small minority – don’t let such a small group of people preventing you from doing what you want to do.
Have your own story about overcoming your fitness fears that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below and tell us all about it!
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