Common Barriers to Exercise and How to Overcome Them

As a trainer, it makes my heart hurt when I hear people proclaim that they hate working out, or that they have no time, or no energy to exercise. Instead of calling them excuses (even though that’s what they are…), I’m choosing instead to call them barriers to entry. I don’t believe people realize they are making excuses when they say some of the following phrases, rather it’s the story they’ve told themselves about why they’re unable or unwilling to workout. Let’s dive in, shall we?

“I have no time” 

If something is a priority for you, you make time. I’m sure there are meetings you wouldn’t dream of skipping because of the repercussions and appointments that you keep because you know what a hassle re-booking can be. Think of exercise as one of these non-negotiable time slots that you create and keep no matter what.

“I can’t afford a gym membership” 

Well, if you have a park nearby, or a beach, or even a small space in your yard or house, you can workout for FREE. Bodyweight workouts can do wonders, and can be done entirely without equipment. A quick Google search will yield some basic bodyweight moves that you can start with, like squats, pushups, dips, lunges, etc.

“I don’t know where to start”

There are a few options here:

  1. There is so. much. information. online. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. If you know where to look, you can find quality videos demonstrating technique, sample workout programs, and other wonderful resources. A great, no-frills routine is this 7 minute workout from the New York Times.
  2. If you join a gym, they’ll routinely offer you a free consultation with a trainer. These can be tricky, as the trainer will likely try to sell you on a training package which can be costly, but you can glean some answers about how to do certain exercises, and how frequently you should be working out to hit your goals.
  3. Sign up for some group exercise classes. The structure of these can be helpful for people in a few ways: feeding off the energy of the group, testing out different styles of exercise, and instruction from the teacher without the cost of a personal trainer.
  4. And being a trainer myself, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention enlisting the help of a professional to help kickstart your routine. Even if it’s a session or two, or once a month, having the one-on-one (or gather a few friends and make it a group thing!) is helpful for accountability and for having a personalized routine created for you.

“I’m too tired”

Flip this one on its head, and instead of an excuse, it can be an intrinsic motivator to begin an exercise routine. Research shows that the cure for exhaustion is more exercise. So by pushing through your existing fatigue and working to get into an exercise routine, you will see vast improvements in your sleep at night as well as your energy levels throughout the day.

“I just don’t like working out” 

I’d be willing to bet my life that everyone on earth can find some sort of physical activity that they enjoy. And if you say that you don’t like working out, then it’s likely that you simply haven’t found your thang yet! Running, biking, skating, swimming, surfing, walking, tennis, basketball, soccer, yoga, hiking, volleyball, weight lifting, horseback riding, skateboarding, gymnastics, rowing, pilates, barre, martial arts, dancing, boxing, golf, frisbee…try them all until you find one that you truly enjoy and look forward to. If you HATE running, don’t run. And don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.

“The gym is intimidating and i don’t like going”

Totally hear you on this one, actually. I’ve belonged to a gym since I was 15 years old, but moving to Los Angeles and joining a brand new gym left me a little flummoxed. I didn’t know where anything was, didn’t know the least crowded times to go, and didn’t know how to sign up for classes (you don’t here, apparently!). But I asked questions. Sometimes we get so inside our own head and don’t want to ask a question for fear of looking or sounding stupid. But after walking around the entire gym trying to find the spin studio, I finally asked and they kindly showed me where it was. Easy peasy!

“I’ve tried in the past and failed/quit/stopped”

Don’t even pull this crap excuse with me. No one is perfect, and I can guarantee you that even the fittest people on the planet have had weeks or months where they didn’t or couldn’t exercise. Life can get crazy, and it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to follow a plan 100% of the time with no veering off track. In the immortal words of Aaliyah, “If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again. You can dust it off and try again.” You write your own story, and by telling yourself that you can’t start because you stopped once before, you are selling yourself short and not allowing your body to feel as good as it possibly can.

The good news!? It is NEVER too late to start an exercise routine. Even squeezing in a 30 minute walk during the day to start will  create a domino effect and have you feeling better and more accomplished. Don’t wait for New Year’s Eve to make a resolution to workout. Start adding more physical activity every day and watch in amazement as it creates a ripple effect in your life.

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