All of us, from time to time, find it challenging to keep our workout practice consistent. Social, job, and family obligations can seem to devour our calendar until there’s no time left for ourselves.
On top of that, how we view exercise and compare our own bodies to others can often keep us from getting in the movement we need to feel great.
So we asked expert trainer Tanner Martty, owner of 34 North gym in Santa Monica about the two hurdles that keep people from working out and how to get passed them.
#1 Trying to fit your workouts into a busy schedule
Yes, keeping consistent workouts is challenging. But when we spoke with Tanner, he assured us that the biggest challenge that keeps clients from working out is really an issue of perception.
Tanner says, “The problem is that they try to fit their movement training into the little gaps between appointments. That rarely works. It might work for a short period of time, but that next email you could send is always waiting, that next phone call you could make is right at your fingertips or you just get dragged to happy hour after work.”
There is always something that can pull us away from our fitness. When we haven’t actually carved out time in the week to get our workouts in, we’re leaving much of our health up to how we feel in the moment. And more often than not, with this type of approach, our workouts get sidelined.
Tanner: “You’re trying to fit your fitness into what is convenient and that means it is not a priority.”
While how to solve this looks like an issue of scheduling, in other words, adding your workouts to your schedule before it fills up for the week, it’s actually an important perceptual shift.
Tanner encourages us to start first with our fitness and then build our schedules around it, understanding that our health is the driver of all that we do.
Tanner tells us: “If we make the shift where all those social, work and family obligations are now wrapped around your fitness, so you literally put your health first, that’s when your workouts, your progress and all the benefits of an active life take hold.”
When we become clear about the importance of our workouts and our workout time, we may find that the original scheduling conflicts work themselves out.
“When you become really clear that this is my workout time, whatever time that is, you find that people don’t try to mess with that. That is your sacred time. You’re making it a top priority. The more clear that you get about that, the less conflicts you start having with it, both internal and external. You just do it.”
Waxing philosophically, he concludes, “And when, over time, your commitment to yourself makes you feel better and stronger, the world just keeps opening up for you.”
#2 “I need to be fit to start working out.”
Expectation can become an incredibly powerful barrier to working out. What we think we should be able to do, how we think we should look, and unrealistic exercise goals can take away the simple joy of moving more often.
If you’re new to fitness or you’ve “taken a long break”, and you’re looking for a good way to start, Tanner recommends we first let go of what we think the workout is supposed to be.
“Another major mental block I see is thinking that fitness has to be something that they’ve seen at a gym they went to one time or that they need to be in shape in order to start working out. I hear people say that all the time. ‘Man, you know, I really want to come train with you, but I've got to get in better shape first.’ And I’m like ‘No, man, that’s what the purpose of the gym is, to get in shape.’ ”
Often the biggest hurdle to working out is in our minds. We may think we are not going to be able to do very much or we don’t look like other people at the gym or exercise class. Both of these may be true. But they are not a strong enough reason to forbid ourselves from the incredible benefits of consistent exercise.
Here, self-compassion and honesty figure large.
We need self-compassion to care for the part of ourselves that doesn’t feel like we’re beautiful, fit, or strong enough. And we need our honest self-regard to see what is our actual level of fitness.
When we asked Tanner about this, he gave us a useful way to work with these type of mental games.
“What I always say to someone who is feeling this way is to start with a workout or a movement regiment that even in your worst case scenario you could still pull off. For some people that might be a thirty minute walk around your neighborhood, for others it’s one pushup or pullup. Keep doing this until you build up your confidence.”
Our success and health largely depend on the meaning we apply to the things we do. By wrapping our family, social, and work obligations around our fitness, instead of the other way around, we give priority to our health, the driver of all that we do.
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