Ignite your Love for Exercise – 9 Tips and a Confession
9 Tips to ignite your exercise passion, and a confession from a fitness professional
As a fitness professional with over 17 years experience in the industry, people usually assume I have always loved exercise. I have a confession…
After a very athletic childhood, I got to my teen years and lost my passion for exercise. In secondary school I purposely and repeatedly ‘forgot’ my sports uniform so I didn’t have to participate, until my sports teacher threatened that if I ‘forgot’ it one more time I’d fail. I dropped Physical Education as a subject the moment I could, and avoided any school sports days. I now operate an award winning fitness business, love exercise and fitness events like fun runs, obstacle and adventure racing and other challenges.
I understand what it feels like to dislike exercise and avoid it. I understand what it’s like to feel self-conscious, unskilled and awkward, overwhelmed and under motivated.
Here are my tips to fall in love with exercise:
Find what you love, avoid what you hate
Making yourself suffer through an activity you can’t stand will be very short lived. There are so many types of exercise – dancing, cycling, gym, classes, boxing, martial arts, rowing, running, bush walking, Pilates, yoga… There is something for everyone. Find something you don’t hate and allow a love for it to blossom.
Allow yourself to be a beginner
In my career I’ve seen so many clients berate themselves for not being brilliant at their new chosen form of exercise. You won’t be the best immediately, so allow yourself time to be the ‘new kid’, learning the technique and making a few mistakes.
Find a buddy or five
Having the support of friends, a partner or family will keep you motivated and make your training sessions fly by. Group exercise sessions or classes can be social and fun so you’ll look forward to going regularly. You might also be able to make your sessions cheaper by sharing the cost of a trainer or getting a special deal at a gym.
Read body positive health information
Make yourself familiar with health resources that encourage health at every body size. Getting tips on intuitive eating, enjoyable movement, recovery, stress management and positive body image will support you in making choices that help you to feel good and function well, without feeling like you need to ‘measure up’, change your appearance or feel guilty for a life of moderation.
Don’t go too hard, too soon
Most people will start an exercise ‘kick’, go crazy with 5 sessions in the first week, then find themselves sore, tired and over it, only to quit before a month is up. Commit to 3 sessions per week for 6 weeks and don’t be tempted to do more just yet.
Set a goal
And I don’t mean a weight related goal! Studies show that people who set a non-weight related fitness goal adhere better to exercise and achieve more lasting results. Make the goal important to you, achievable, specific and have a time frame. Perhaps a fitness event, or ‘being able to jog 3km’ ? Once you have your goal you can set yourself weekly tasks in order to get there.
Give yourself some rewards
Treat yourself to a new outfit, a weekend away, a massage or any other feel good treat when you achieve your fitness goals, or complete your scheduled sessions for 6 weeks continuously. Celebrate! (Avoid using food as a reward as it can reinforce unhelpful labels of “good” vs “bad” foods.)
Focus on the benefits
How great do you feel after you’ve moved your body? Whenever you get the ‘can’t be bothereds’, think about the last time you completed some exercise. You might have enjoyed the fresh air, the sun on your skin, the feeling of stretching out or moving your muscles after a day of sitting, or you might have loved burning off a whole load of stress. No doubt you felt fabulous about yourself and so glad you did it. Continue to focus on all the benefits as you get fitter: emotional, physical, mental and social benefits. The results will keep you going!
Change your definition
Stop thinking of yourself as ‘slack’, a ‘blob’, ‘lazy’ or a ‘non-exerciser’. Make choices for yourself that make you feel good and function well and congratulate yourself for making those choices. Offer yourself self-compassion and change your self-talk. You won’t always feel like you have a good balance, and that’s okay. You’re working on being kinder to yourself.