Barrier 1: "I don't have time"
You know you need to get to the gym, but something’s standing in your way.
In this series we’ll tease apart the most common barriers that have kept my clients from getting to the gym and we’ll identify how to bust through those barriers so you can create lasting routines that will get you to the gym and on the way to achieving your fitness goals.
Busting Barriers: “I don’t have time.”
Often, friends and clients tell me that they “don’t have the time,” to get to the gym.
I have a client, I’ll call her Kate*, who was dealing with just this problem. She had exercised regularly with me, so I knew she could do it, but nearly a year after she moved away she still hadn’t found a gym. She is an intelligent, successful, energetic woman. She knew the benefits of exercise and that she felt better about her body and the world in general when she was exercising regularly. So why was this seemingly-simple task proving so difficult for her?
When I dig deeper I often discover that what’s keeping them from going ahead and making the time is their routines.
Routines and habits are great. Routines are what let us keep from scalding ourselves when we’re making our morning coffee, even when we’re more than half asleep. They’re what get us through the day without agonizing over every little decision. But when you need to change up your routines, such as making room for a daily trip to the gym, routines can trip you up.
Kate is amazing. She works from a home office and can get a million things done by the time I’ve sketched out a to-do list. Logistically, she knew she had to exercise in the morning, but every day almost as soon as she’d get up she’d get sucked into tasks. The next thing she knew it was nearly lunch. So we came up with, “don’t open your laptop before you work out.” It seemed like such a simple thing, but Kate found it incredibly hard. It made her really uncomfortable to not even peek at her email at the start of the day because it was her routine. She didn’t actually have to start work that early in the morning; all of her tasks could wait an hour longer for her to get her workout in. In order for Kate to make exercise part of her life, she had to create a new routine.
Changing routines is hard! Your brain is wired to create routines, and it can feel alien and wrong when you start to deliberately deviate from them. For Kate, it was more uncomfortable to avoid looking at her email than it was to actually go to the gym and exercise. Recognize that this discomfort is part of what you’re in the process of overcoming and that it too will pass.
Often just identifying your current routine is enough for you to lay the groundwork for a new one. If you always get into your PJs, get into bed, and read for a few hours before sleeping, then you could realize that your routine makes it hard to get set for the gym the next day. Instead, you could make a point of setting out your gym clothes before you change into your PJs. That way you don’t need to get out of your comfortable bed to take care of that chore before lights-out.
Once you identify the routines that are stopping you from getting to the gym you’re perfectly set up to design new routines that will get you there day after day.