“What do you mean ‘it takes guts’?”
I mean this. Imagine those who want to start doing something about improving their health (like we in the fitness industry are always pressing people to do), not only for themselves but to set an example to their children. Setting foot inside a gym or joining a group fitness class where they have no idea what the level is, what is expected of them, what everyone is going to be wearing (will their joggers from five years ago look out of place next to the skinny lululemon shorts on the woman in the front row?) …all of that is absolutely terrifying.
Mentally and physically, that person is going to feel uncomfortable and it takes guts to overcome that.
“So, you’re the professional. Tell us what they can do about it”
OK. Here’s what I think:
- That person should accept that the first 5 minutes are going to be knot-in-the-stomach stuff.
- That person should also accept that most, if not all, the participants are only interested in their own workout and won’t have the time nor the inclination to be focusing on whether the person opposite them can or can’t do something.
- Rather than set foot alone in a gym and trying to remember how to set the correct weight at the bench press, maybe join a group class instead and hide at the back, especially for the first few times, just to gain a bit of confidence. If the instructor is any good, she will be subtly loiter near you and chuck a few smiles and thumbs up in your direction and also check you’re not doing yourself any damage. If you’re in a spinning class, then choose a bike at the back and stay seated…standing up for the pretend hills and ramping it up a gear is optional (and frankly enough to put you off for life) so stay seated and watch the others in their sweaty, grunt-y discomfort (that would be me, too).
- Wear something you feel comfortable in, no matter how outdated or baggy or tight and on-trend. This is about you and how you feel, not how others perceive you.
- Make a connection with the instructor. As soon as you get there, introduce yourself, tell them you’re new (petrified, unfit, uncoordinated, embarrassed, whatever) and anyone with a heart is going to want to look after you.
- If you’re in a group class and everyone else is giving the high knees hammer and tongs, but you really don’t like the look of it, then do a walking pace, do a slower version. No-one, but no-one, will care. They’re too preoccupied with getting through the next 20 seconds with some modicum of dignity, despite the yapping of the instructor at their heels. At the end of the class, you want to feel confident about coming back for a second go, not annihilated with bits of you left behind on the floor.
- If I’ve still not convinced you and you’re still looking at your trainers with a mixture of love and despair, then think about getting to grips with a few moves at home frist. Search YouTube for some beginner workouts (ahem….Annie Deadman Training has some rather jolly little numbers). That way, you’ll get friendly tuition and a boost to your confidence, not to mention aching legs. Try this one for size.. (I’m doing it with you and there’s some bossy person in the background telling us what to do)… BEGINNERS WORKOUT.
8. If you haven’t got the oomph for any of that, then put your best walking shoes on and walk. Yes, just walk. Anywhere. Half an hour a day. That way, you’ve etched a slot each day for you and your body and your fitness will improve massively. No-one else, just you. No-one need know about it, it’s your thing. You and some music in your headphones or with no sounds at all. Just the birds.
Without, I hope, sounding patronising, I’m going to say this. It is our job as fitness professionals, to coax and to coach. It’s so easy to train those who love exercise, who love to train hard. The most important part of our job is to improve the health (and health awareness) of those who most need it, those who can’t actually make the first step.
This was Annie Deadman with her serious hat on.
This is Annie with her heartfelt hat on….If there is anyone out there who fancies improving their health and wants a little help, then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org stating a little about your lifestyle. No persuading into classes, no coaxing into expensive personal training. No strings whatsoever. Go on, try me for some free advice.
Thank you for reading.
Have a lovely day.