Updated: Dec 6, 2019
You can understand everything about the benefits of exercise, you can have a fool-proof routine for fitting the gym into your schedule, you’ve faced up to your fears… so why is it you can’t seem to make yourself actually bite the bullet and start working out?
Maybe it’s the plain old fact that when you’re working out, it just sucks.
Time for some truth-telling: even “fitness people” find working out to be uncomfortable sometimes. I own a gym, I coach people to work out almost every day and I even struggle with this from time to time. My muscles ache and I can’t wait for it all to be over. Just like every other animal on the planet, humans seek pleasure and avoid discomfort, so is it any wonder that you avoid the gym?
The good news is that once you identify the fears that are keeping you out of the gym you can absolutely overcome them! How do I know? Because you’ve pushed through hundreds of other difficult, uncomfortable things in your life. Have you ever: filed your taxes, endured unpleasant medical tests, been pregnant, resisted the urge to tell an obnoxious relative what you really thought of them, or gone to work or school on a day when you just weren’t feeling it… the list goes on and on! You already know what it’s like to make yourself do something unpleasant because you know you need to. You already know how to focus on the reward and not the process to make it bearable. You’re already a pro at making yourself stick-to-your-guns; you just need to find ways to apply those same skills to the gym!
Go ahead, think of another occasion where you’ve persevered through adversity. How did you feel before it happened, while it was going on, and after you’d made it? What techniques did you use? Did you offer yourself little bribes? Do you focus on the outcome, e.g. “It’s hard work now, but think how great it will be to harvest vegetables from my yard all summer long!” Do you flat out lie to yourself, “This year there’s no way this meeting is going to be as tedious as the next one.” Whatever technique works best for you in other aspects of your life, try it on yourself to get you to the gym or exercising.
If discomfort is the barrier that’s keeping you out of the gym you can own that and then identify other times in your life you’ve pushed through discomfort. Use those same techniques to get you to the gym and press on though it. Fitness is as much a mental game as it is physical. Sometimes you just have to embrace the suck and get comfortable being uncomfortable.