I have a secret.
I’m pretty rubbish at exercise.
Not as in, I don’t know how to run, or jump, or throw a ball around… I’m just not very good at getting around to actually doing exercise. This has always been the case.
What I am good at however, is making excuses not to exercise.
Too hot. Too cold. Asthma’s playing up. Too tired. Too boring. Lack of trendy active wear. Too windy. Too expensive. Increased frequency of hair washing. Plantar Fasciitis (well actually, it turned out I had burning feet because I had cheap, ill-fitting shoes).
And somehow, I’m in week 3 of a 5 week bootcamp. I’ve attended 8 sessions in 2 weeks, and I even got up at 5.30 some mornings to attend. I’ve shocked my friends and my family, but most of all I’ve actually managed to shock myself. And I’m honestly, completely confident I can keep going.
So how did this startling change of events occur? It didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t know it at the time, but I started preparing months ago.
A while back, I started attending a weekly 30 minute strength session at Vision with the encouragement of two workmates, under the instruction of Cam (our Sports Scientist). This initial part was crucial – whilst I learnt proper technique, what I really gained was confidence (and some strength!). I skipped a few sessions, often blaming a draining day (and ignoring the fact it would have made me feel better – more on this in the coming weeks). This single weekly session helped me find my feet and realise that I actually wanted to be active.
The next step was to address the other pesky barriers stopping me from putting in even the smallest of effort.
Over three weeks I’ll break each barrier category down (Yes, there are/were that many barriers, I can/could categorise them).
PART 1 – PRECONCIEVED IDEAS & NEGATIVE SELF TALK
I have never identified as a ‘fitness’ person – if someone told me a couple of years ago that I would be working for a company located inside a gym, I would have laughed. Loudly. I once accidentally turned up to the gym with my ugg boots still on, after being dragged there by a friend. That’s how non fitness I am.
“Everyone will be good at it, and I will be terrible. I’m going to look like a big idiot.”
My assumed prerequisites for being a female who exercised were Lorna Jane outfits, Nikes and Fitbits. Everyone would be toned and tanned, and definitely would not turn into heavy breathing, red, sweaty messes within the first five minutes (as I surely would). This is not my scene, I’m not going to fit in.
How you identify yourself and what you believe you are capable of goes a long way to influence your decisions. I slowly challenged this by making new friends, trying new things, and asking lots and lots of questions from those people who are regularly active (and actually enjoy it). Oh, and I also bought new tights to replace the single pair my Mum purchased me about sixty billion years ago.
Trainers are mean and like to scream at you. I know, this one is pretty silly. I’ve heard that some trainers are mean and like to yell lots, but using common sense I should have realised not all trainers will be the same. I just needed to find one of the non-scary, encouraging ones, of which there are plenty.
I still honestly believe the potential is there for me to accidentally drop myself on my head whilst doing a pike push-up. This morning I accidentally wore a t shirt to training with cooking stains down the front. My cardio is average and I’m often the last one in the group back from the running parts. And you know what – I really couldn’t care less.
Challenging preconceived ideas and negative self-talk takes time but if you consciously work on it these beliefs wear thin. Be aware of them, question them, then challenge yourself to approach the situation differently.
Next week…. PART 2: A (Conscious) Lack of Self Awareness & Ignoring What I Already Knew