We all know it by now. Exercise is good for our physical and mental health. It helps to reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease, strengthens our bodies and can improve conditions such as depression. But if it’s so good for us, then why does it sometimes feel like such a chore? A lot of that might come down to our perceived reason for training. Why did you go to the gym first thing on Monday morning? What was the purpose of your training?
For athletes, pro/amateur/recreational, that might be an easy question to answer. I train to be a more resilient and powerful rugby player. One of my clients trains to perform better at tennis and as a result, was invited to play with a better and more competitive club. Sport gives us a clear and direct goal for weight or cardiovascular training. But what about those who don’t play sports?
Aesthetics is the most obvious reason. We have a dream body in our heads. The perfect figure or shape. Social media has given us unlimited access to people with these bodies - some of whom will naturally find it very easy to maintain those lean figures, some who will work very hard to maintain those figures (although possibly restricting themselves for long periods of time) and some who have access to apps that they use to photoshop themselves. And when we spend our time scrolling through endless pictures of muscular, lean physiques, what might start as motivation to get into shape (fitspo, ew remember that?) can quickly turn into putting ourselves down because we can’t seem to get our bodies to look the same way.
Instead of focusing your goal around some other person’s body - focus it around your own. If you’re always comparing yourself to something else instead of giving the time of day to your own body, how can you expect to put your best foot forward? We also need to find ways to exercise that we ENJOY. Again for the people in the back - FIND SOMETHING YOU ENJOY. I’m biased because I enjoy weight training and I believe as a coach I can make it enjoyable for just about anyone. But if you just like doing spin classes or zumba - quite frankly who cares what it is. Find something that makes you feel good and that delivers the desired effect on your health.
Good things to look out for when you choose what exercise to participate in are:
Does it provide sufficient strength (this could be in a variety of capacities) and cardiovascular stimulus?
Does/has it reduced any pain or health issues. Equally, if your HIIT class is causing you knee or back pain - is it the right choice for your body?
Do you enjoy it? Is it fun, does the time fly by, are the people around you nice?
It’s also good to find a variety of things that you enjoy doing that cover different aspects of training. Spin classes might cover your cardio if you don’t fancy slogging away on your own on a bike and weight training might cover the strength side of things. The point is that you should exercise because you WANT to. Not just because it’s something you’ve been told you should be doing. That kind of mindset shift might take some time but in the long run, training because you want to grow and get fitter or stronger will benefit you much more than “I have to run twice a week, even though I hate it, because I need to lose 2lbs”.
Once you learn to enjoy and properly buy into whatever training you choose then you can start to appreciate and feel gratitude for your body and what it is capable of. Instead of “I’m only eating tiny salads because I need to lose fat”, it becomes “I am eating tasty, high veg and protein meals that fill me up because I love my body and my body needs fuel”. It makes a permanent lifestyle change much easier as you stop thinking purely about making yourself smaller. What could you achieve if you stopped training to be small and started training to get strong?
As a coach, I believe that strength training should be part of everyone’s schedule - even if it just makes up a small portion! There are huge health benefits from building a bit more muscle and if you can find a gym buddy or a group to train with that makes fun - what’s not to like? Stop making exercise a chore. Find what you love, get started, get strong.
If you’re looking for a way to get started with weight training or maybe you want to elevate your performance with some structure and guidance then get in touch. I have space on my Women Only training groups available, where you’ll train as part of a supportive and encouraging group to better yourselves and build each other up! The groups train 2x per week in York for £104 a month - a bit of quick maths should explain how much of a steal that is! Email enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text Ruth on 07969454583.