Millions of people are getting back into the habit of regular exercise at the gym, but what about those people who have trouble developing a positive relationship with exercise?These are the people who hated all sport from a young age and have never set foot in a gym since.
Unfortunately it happens all too often. A bad experience as a youngster can lead to deep feelings of anxiety surrounding fitness and exercise in later life. Whether it was being forced to run round a muddy cross country course in minus degrees, enduring the embarrassment of tight leotards in a gymnastics class or simply not feeling adept at skills of catching and throwing. There are many ways that experiences, usually at school, can have a negative impact on a person’s relationship with exercise.
One of our missions at Kelsey Kerridge Sports Centre and Gym is to help people discover exercise that they can enjoy and benefit from. No matter how much a person might have disliked sport at school, there will be some activity that really appeals and catches their imagination. Our staff are here to help people who are interested in developing a positive relationship with exercise.
Much of a person’s antipathy towards exercise is lodged in the mind. Changing mindsets is the first step towards finding an exercise programme that suits and developing a positive relationship with exercise.
The first thing to recognise is that you are not the same person now. You are no longer the teenager who was embarrassed to do exercise in front of his or her peers. Remember you are not stuck in that box forever.
It is also important to get away from thinking there are exercises you must do. It is your choice. Just because peers, friends and colleagues are all donning their running kit and pounding out the miles doesn’t mean you have to. Your exercise might involve dance or fitness class or boxing. To get the most from activity and to develop a positive relationship with exercise, you need to embrace and enjoy the experience.
A fun and social experience
Make it social. If you feel that you can’t possibly go to a class or start an activity alone, then rope in a friend. And make it a social experience too. Set aside time for your exercise and maybe go for a coffee afterwards.
Never associate exercise with punishment. If you start an exercise session thinking “I must do this because I had five glasses of wine last night”, then you will never develop a positive frame of mind towards exercise. Instead, think of exercise as time for yourself. It is a time to switch off from mundane cores, it is a chance to forget work, it is a time to devote to yourself.
Family and friends can play their part
It is also important to receive positive endorsements from friends and family. Let people know that you are taking up a new exercise activity. Explain that you have had negative experiences in the past and that this is a big deal. Allow people the chance to be supportive by being open wth them about your feelings.
The same is true of the professionals in the gym. Their job, indeed their passion, is about helping you to get fit and healthy and to enjoy it. Talk to them about your hopes, your targets and your fears.
Open your mind to exercise and let the healthy, positive vibes flood in.