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How to Overcome Your Exercise Fear

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

Group of people exercising on tredmils at a gym
Everyone has their exercise fear. Use it as your motivation

When something is strange, overwhelming or uncomfortable, it’s a natural to avoid it. Whether you feel too old, too overweight, or feel uneasy in gym clothes, there is a simple solution. Start small, but start with something.

If you’re self-conscious about your weight, you could start by walking with friends and family, working out in the privacy of your home, or if you need to be pushed exercising with a trainer who you find encouraging and supportive. You might not be surprised to know that the main reason people join a gym is to lose weight, you are most definitely not alone in the way you feel. A common misconception is you need to be fit to enter a gym. If you feel really uncomfortable, ask your gym when the quieter times and classes are.

If exercise is hard on your joints, try swimming or take an aqua aerobics class. Exercising in water is easier on your joints and your muscles gets the extra support they need. Plus there are heaps of other benefits to working out in water. If your body’s limitations are more serious, check with your doctor or physio to figure out exercises that are safe and easy for you to do.

Cycling is another great exercise for people of all ages and body types. If you’ve learnt how to ride a bike, you never forget. You can bike with friends, on your own or in a group Spin/RPM class. The latter can seem intimidating, however the instructor guides you through a ride where you control your own intensity. Remember to start slow and build into it with more experience.

Are you unfamiliar with the equipment at the gym? No one wants to look like a newbie. BUT, remember that everyone was new at one time. Many gyms offer services as part of the membership to help you understand how to use equipment and set up a programme to help get you going safely.

Is it that you don't like getting sweaty? In winter get outdoors when the air is fresher and indoors in an air conditioned/cooled room in the hotter months. Try wearing sweat-wicking workout apparel. Go for a swim so you don’t notice any perspiration or try an activity like yoga. Work out first thing in the morning, before you shower and get ready for your day or if you need to, break your exercise up into smaller rounds. Just don’t skip it all together.

If you don’t like to exercise alone ask a friend to meet you for a weekend walk, or see if some colleagues want to join you for a fitness class before or after work. Classes are fun, engaging, motivating and varied. It’s a lot easier to skip a gym session or a class when it’s just you, but when you have someone else there it keeps you focussed. Don’t let not having a gym buddy stop you. The gym is also a great place to meet like-minded people who are at all stages along their fitness journey. Try it you might like it.

Nobody said exercise is easy, the only way you’re ever going to get the results you want is by doing it. But remember by exercising you are doing a wonderful thing for your body and your mind. Don’t let insecurity stop you from starting and don’t compare yourself to others.

Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman’s said “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”


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